Creating a great combination planter seems simple; pick a bunch of plants that you like and put them together, right? Yes…and no. Here are some tips on creating some great mixed planters, including some very winning combinations!

If you already have a container to plant in, measure it before you go shopping. If you don’t have a planter, consider what style you would like and also how large it will need to be. You want it to fit in proportionately with your existing space. Also, think about where the planter will be; do the plants need to be tall or cascading down the sides, or both? Next, figure out how much sun will the planter be getting.

When choosing a container, there are several very important considerations to take into account.  First, check the container to see if there is adequate drainage; that would be the holes through the bottom of the container.  Make sure there is enough and that they are large enough for the size container it is.  Next, consider what it is made of; thin metal can heat up fast and transfer high temps and freezing temperatures into the root zone of the plant fast.  Thin, inexpensive plastic does the same thing.  Concrete and high fired pottery have thicker walls, providing insulation to the plant roots.

Hardier plants can offer a variety of striking textures and colors. Mixing some of these in with a larger statement piece in the middle works very well. Here are some suggestions from The Good Earth Garden Center:

For shade:
1. Hick’s Yew, Impatiens, Variegated Ivy, Moneywort
2. Bird’s Nest Fern, New Guinea Impatiens, Polka Dot Plant, Irish Moss
3. Maidenhair Fern, Heuchera, Impatiens, Torenia

For sun:
1. Angelonia, Bacopa, Moneywort, Wave Petunia
2. Red Stars Cordyline, Ageratum, Silver Frost, Million Bells
3. Chinese Fan Palm, Verbena, Sweet Potato Vine

Choosing a good potting is very important! You want a mix that drains well, promotes root growth and general plant health. Always use a professional grade potting mix, because you are aiming for professional results!  Good Earth brand Jump Start is a good one to give roots a jump start!

Watering is an important piece of the puzzle too; many people forget to water pots during the winter months and that can be especially damaging if they are under a covering and not getting any natural rainfall.  Keep in mind that plants do NOT like to freeze dry…the cells that make up the plant actually explode when they freeze dry!  Watering during growing seasons is key too; a moisture meter can help you figure out what is happening in the root zone of the container and help you develop a good watering schedule.

In order to get maximum blooming and lush growth, it is important to fertilize.  This is especially true with container gardening because of the constant watering leaching out nutrients, sometimes faster than they can be taken up by the plant. Two great fertilizers are BR-61 and Ferti-Lome Premium Bedding Plant food, which both encourage blooming and plant strength.

It’s time to get your hands dirty! Sky’s the limit for planters, don’t be afraid to get creative and remember to have fun!