Happy August from Desert Rose! We are excited to conclude the blog that we began last month, in which we began to review some commonly asked questions around planting pots. In this month's blog we will go details of how to properly plant your pots. However, keep in mind that since pots come in many different sizes and shapes, the following information should be used as guidelines.
Our first tip is about visualizing the planting arrangement that you would like in your pot. Always lay out your plants prior to planting, take a picture with your phone, and then plant. This allows you to shift around plants easily until you are absolutely sure of your final layout. Scrape the side and bottom of roots to prevent the plants from being rootbound. If you want full, overflowing pots, place plants close to each other. This will also give you an instantly full pot without having to wait for the plants to grow. Just be aware that the plants will quickly crowd each other, but it will give you amazing looking pots as long as you are fertilizing them properly.
When it comes to planting arrangements, there is a certain style of layout that is ideal to use when laying out plants. This is done so that all of the plants are visible and add layers of height to your pots. Around the inside edge of the pot, put something that will grow over the lip of the pot and grow to the ground. If you pretend your pot is a clock you want to plant at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 for economical pots or pots that are less than 18" across.
For lushes, full pots or pots that are larger than 36" across, 1:30,3:00,4:30,6:00,7:30,9:00 and 10:30 (leave 12 o'clock empty for later). Potato plants, Licorice plant and Black Eyed Susan vines are great plants that cascade over the pot and give it a dramatic appearance. Don’t be afraid to mix and match any of these plants.
Pro Tip #1: Purple potato plants look great when flanked on both sides with green potato plants. In the back of the pot (12 o'clock) plant something tall, ideally a grass or spike plant to give the pot height. In the middle of the pot put one or two medium height plants, such as Geraniums, Dahlias, Lupines or Foxgloves.
Pro Tip #2: For fuller pots, you can put three of the medium height plants and arrange them in a triangle, two closer to the grass and one below. Between the medium height plant and the cascading plant put an assortment of low growing plants: Petunias, Lantanas, Mexican Heathers and other plants similar to this height range. Ideally you want something that will grow wide and spread outside the rim of the pot.
The last thing to consider is whether you want the pot to be balanced symmetrically or an assortment of plants. With a balanced pot, the left side of the pot will be identical to the right. You can put a yellow petunia on the left side and a red on the right, but the plant will be the same. This gives the pot a very symmetrical, elegant look. A random pot still follows the standard layout presented in the beginning of this months blog (cascading in front, tall in back) but is a mixture of textures and colors. For example the left side might have a purple Petunia and the right side a red Lantana. This style of pot looks great and adds a lot of pop; as long as you choose plants that have similar growth patterns. For example, if on the right side you have a Lantana and the left a Mexican Heather, the lantana will grow to be several inches or more outside the pot while the Mexican Heather may only reach an inch or so outside the pot, giving your pot unbalanced look.
The biggest mistake that is commonly made while creating arrangements is that the plants are placed too deep or the soil is overly compacted. You want the top of your soil to be 2-3" below the top of the pot. This will allow you to fill the pot with water (just don’t allow water to overflow the top of the pot). This will make it a lot easier to properly water your plants. When you plant make sure the soil level is even with the potted plants soil level (just like you would plant any other plant). Make sure you don’t cover the plant with more than 1/4" of the potted plants soil. Gently compact the soil with your fingers and fill in any gaps between plants. Once the everything is planted thoroughly water your pot with lots of water until water runs out of the drainage hole on the bottom of the pot. Dead head the flowers regularly to keep the pot looking its best! Water regularly when the top inch of the soil is dry.
It can be a lot of work to create potted arrangements, but it is well worth the work once you see the results!