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Container Planting How-To—Tips for Success

Planter with pink flowers

Container plantings are a convenient way to add color to a patio space or front porch—and they offer flexibility. You can easily change out annuals and try new varieties without digging up a plant bed. Plus, there are a range of attractive containers in all shapes and sizes, so you can create container groupings or decide on a planter that’s large enough for an ornamental tree. It’s no wonder more people are embracing container plantings as an accessible way to add pops of color to their great outdoors.

While you can purchase pre-made container planting arrangements, doing so costs quite a bit more than “building your own,” and limits your selection. Besides, choosing varieties to plant yourself is a simple gardening project and your options are as expansive as your imagination. 

Ready to plant some portable curb appeal (another benefit of container!)? Here are some basic steps for container planting success, including recommendations to help you reduce watering by half and improve soil quality in a sustainable way

#1 A Healthy Foundation—Prepare Healthy Container Soil 

Planters in a cart

The vibrant flowers, fragrant herbs and enticing foliage you see growing out of a container is the product of healthy soil. What lies beneath is most important. Without quality soil that promotes oxygen flow (reducing compaction that can choke out your plants) and feeds the roots with water and nutrients, you’ll be replacing the plants sooner than you’d like. The great thing about containers is you can prepare the perfect soil. 

Tip: Container planting soil naturally dries out faster because there’s less of it to absorb and retain moisture. And, if you forget to water one day, your plants could quickly show signs of stress like wilting. The good news is, you can save time and preserve plant health by giving container planting soil a boost with Soil Moist, which is an environmentally-friendly polymer-based product that you mix into water and pour into the soil. (It lasts for three to five years, depending on conditions.) Basically, it works like a time release, holding 200 to 400 times its weight in water—1 pound holds 23 gallons of water—and when the plant roots “look” for water, the polymer reacts to this slight pressure and releases the appropriate amount. Soil Moist basically allows the plant to tell the soil when it’s time to get water. 

#2 Decisions, Decisions—Select Container Plants 

When choosing plants for a container, read the tags carefully. Pay attention to how much sunlight and water the plants will require. If you mix a shade-loving variety with flowers that needs full sun most of the day, one of the two will not survive. Another consideration when choosing plants to place in a container is height. Ideally, you should aim for a few “stories” with a taller focal point in the center, a middle layer of filler plants—perhaps some with rich foliage—and trailing plants that are low-growing and can creep over the side of the container, if you wish. 

Tip: Before you select plants, decide where you will place the container. Does the location receive full sun or is it in a shaded area? Is it exposed to wind or in a relatively sheltered spot? With this information, you can select plants that will thrive together. 

#3 Avoid Overcrowding—Allow Container Plants Room to Grow

Planter with purple flowers

A little can go a long way in containers, which is what makes them a budget-friendly and high-impact way to spruce up your property. When selecting plants, be sure to place them properly so they can grow to their mature size without crowding. Otherwise, they will compete for water and nutrients, and inevitably, some plants will win, and others will struggle.     

Tip: At first, your container might look sparse if you select young plants. But soon, those plants will fill in. Less can be more! 

Think Water Smart—Caring for Low-Maintenance Container Plants 

Preserve container plantings by boosting the soil’s ability to retain water, while reducing plant waterings by 50%. Safe, biodegradable Soil Moist releases water into soil as it dries out. One teaspoon per 10-inch container will last up to three to five years. 

Tip: Pair this water-saving product with a microbial based beneficial bacteria as a soil amendment to improve conditions for plant growth.  

How’s It Growing? JRM Wants to Know…

At JRM Chemical, our family operation is focused on creating environmentally-friendly products that save resources. And, what more precious resource is there than water? We also believe in saving time, which is why we created products like Soil Moist to keep plants hydrated in a sustainable, effective way. Tell us what you’re planting this season! 

We’re here to help. Check out our helpful how-to videos and peruse our full line catalog and call anytime to ask us questions at 800-962-4010.  

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