Container Gardens 101 at the Library

Last night I went to a little class on Designing with Containers. It was at the Cuyahoga County Library and was sponsored by Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County and the OSU Extension Service. The speaker was Master Gardener Lee Ann Sepsi. She did a good job.

I know what you are thinking, what does someone with 30+ containers need with a beginning container class? Well, I have found that you can always learn more about gardening, no matter if it is a beginner class or more advanced class. Such was the case last night.

Here is some new things I learned last night:

  • Add white flowers into your container garden. White flowers will make the colors of the other flower look brighter and more vibrant. Even just one white flower plant in the container is enough to achieve this effect.
  • Pack flowers tightly to encourage flowering. I knew that you were suppose to pack flowers tightly to make a full looking container but apparently packing them tightly also causes them to bloom more. Being in such tight quarters will make the flowers bloom more so as to out bloom its nearby neighbors and thus (if allowed to go to seed) produce more seeds and push out the neighbor plants. It’s kind of like a “keeping up with the Joneses” effect for flowers. Hmmm… perhaps that explains the Joneses phenomena in human as well?
  • Herbs taste better if grown in poor soil. Boy, am I glad to hear this. My herb bed has the poorest soil out of all my beds. But, in relation to containers, because herbs prefer poorer soil, you should not mix herbs and annuals in the same container. They don’t play well together because they need different things.
  • Use chartreuse plants in containers for shade. I knew this one in the far back of my mind, but had forgotten it. Chartreuse plants brighten up shady areas.
  • Trim back annuals in late July/early August. I really liked this tip because every year, by mid-August, my annual containers just look like crap. The flowers are scraggly, the stems are leggy and the heat of the summer is just taking its toll. It never occurred to me to cut them back. I do so with my perennials in the beds but not the annuals in the pots. She said to trim them back by about half and the plants will grown new fuller stems to replace those lost. The plants will also work harder to produce flowers to replace the ones that were cut off.
  • Put old potting soil in the compost bin. This one is another one that I kind of knew. It is just one of those questions I see come up alot and everyone gives a dozen different answers. The potting soil does not have to be thrown away but it should not stay in the pot. Put it in the compost and use it again next year in your garden.

Overall, very informative.

And on a related note… The Master Gardeners of Cuyahoga County will be having a plant sale on June 3rd from 10:00am – 3:00pm at Lakewood Park in the Kiwanis Pavilion. There will be several classes throughout the day on different gardening subjects. I will be there. Any plant sale given by a large group of Master Gardeners has to have some choice plants!

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