A lot of the newer (and older), smaller roses are great for growing in vietnam ceramic planters on your patio, deck or even out in your garden. I’ve always felt they look terrific with plants like herbs spilling out the sides.
But if you live in a climate that gets a real winter what do you with the vietnam ceramic planters and the rose when those cold north winds come blowing through? If you leave the rose outside it will likely die from the cold, but since roses need full sun you can’t bring it inside. Or can you?
Yes, you can and you should. During winter a rose is totally dormant and because of this it doesn’t matter if it’s in the sun or not. Now, I don’t advocate shutting it in a dark closet, but a non-heated room with some natural light is perfect. Like a garage near a window.
Because you want the rose to stay dormant during winter and placing it in a heated room will wake it up. And once woken up it will need sunshine and since it’s too cold to put the rose outside….. well, you get the picture.
Simply wait for the rose to go naturally dormant and when that first deep freeze is forecast, like 25 F (-4 C) or below, go ahead and bring it inside. Once inside don’t let the soil dry out but don’t water it regularly either. Since the rose is dormant it won’t be taking up water. Just make sure the soil remains slightly moist and you’ll be fine
Come spring when the rose starts to wake up take it back outside. If you get an unexpected late spring freeze bring it back inside or just throw a blanket over it.
Roses in vietnam ceramic planters are a wonderful sight in any garden and even if you live in a cold climate keeping them for years to come is a snap.
An often overlooked aspect of plant propagation is the art of record keeping. Whether you are producing a few plants for your home flower and vegetable gardens or working at a larger-scale nursery, developing a propagation journal will prove indispensable. We record when seeds are sown, the germination date and success rate, and when seedlings are ready for transplanting each year. At the end of the year we evaluate the timing of our production schedule, noting what went right and what went wrong. These observations help us make adjustments for next year to ensure that we are growing our plants under optimum conditions. We also keep track of where we purchase seeds, as their quality and reliability may vary by source.
STORE SEED PROPERLY TO MAINTAIN VIABILITY
Seeds are a fragile commodity, and if not treated properly, their viability will sharply decline. While some seeds may survive for thousands of years under the proper conditions, others will lose viability quickly, even when properly stored. To maintain dormancy, keep seeds in a cool, dark location with low humidity, like a refrigerator. I recommend labeling them (seed name, source, year) and storing them in a small reclosable bag or empty film canister that is, in turn, kept in a large outdoor ceramic planters. Once you are ready to sow, you can test the viability of many, but not all, seeds by soaking them in water for a few hours. The seeds that are still living will sink to the bottom, while the dead ones will float on the surface. This test generally works better for larger seeds, but there are no absolutes.
Large outdoor ceramic planters are preferable to clay pots when starting seeds, as they retain moisture more consistently. Wide, shallow containers prevent both overcrowding of seedlings and excessive moisture around fragile, young roots. Plants that resent root disturbance when transplanted are best sown into small, individual containers like cell packs or plug trays. Large outdoor ceramic planters, like empty yogurt or margarine tubs, work well, too, provided you’ve poked holes in the bottom for drainage. No matter what type of container you use, it must be clean and free of pathogens. To sanitize a container, soak it in a 10 percent bleach solution for 15 minutes
TAMP SEEDS DOWN TO MAKE DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE SOIL
Use a kitchen sieve to spread soilless seed-starting mix evenly over the top of the seeds to the depth of two times the seed diameter. Very small seeds and those that require light to germinate should lie directly on the surface. Whether covered with planting medium or not, each seed must be in firm contact with the moist surface to begin germinating. Use a pestle or even the bottom of a glass to gently tamp down the surface.
PREVENT DISEASE BY PROVIDING AIR FLOW AND DRAINAGE
The fungal infection often referred to as damping-off is usually caused by excessive moisture and poor air circulation. However, there are a few cultural techniques that will help to keep fungal agents at bay. After covering the seeds with planting mix and tamping them down, spread a thin layer of 50 percent milled sphagnum and 50 percent starter chicken grit (finely ground stone) over the surface to keep the soil around the emerging shoots dry and provide an inhospitable environment for pathogens. To promote good air circulation, place a small fan near your seedlings. Keep the fan on low and direct it to blow across the large outdoor ceramic planters at the soil level where air may become trapped and stagnant.
COVER TRAYS WITH PLASTIC WRAP TO KEEP THE MOISTURE LEVEL CONSTANT
Seeds are very sensitive to the extremes of overwatering and underwatering. In addition, heavy-handed watering can disturb newly germinated seedlings. Securing plastic wrap over the surface of a freshly sown seed pot can help to keep the moisture level constant. However, the large outdoor ceramic planter must still be checked daily for moisture and germination. If you find that you need to rehydrate your seed container, place the entire pot in a basin with 2 to 3 inches of warm water and allow the planting medium to wick moisture from the bottom. If just the surface has dried, you can lift the plastic covering and spritz the surface with water from a spray bottle. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic wrap.
KEEP SEEDS WARM TO ENCOURAGE GERMINATION
Most seeds require temperatures of 65° to 75°F to germinate. Placing seed containers near an existing heater or using a space heater with the proper precautions can raise the ambient temperature as needed. In addition, a heating pad designed for plant use placed directly under the seed containers will warm the planting mix and encourage germination. When using any additional heat source, be sure to check for moisture often, since the seed containers may dry out more quickly.
TURN SEEDLINGS DAILY TO KEEP STEMS STRONG
Most seeds will not germinate without sunlight and will perform best with 12 to 16 hours each day. Indoors, place seed containers in a sunny, south-facing window and give the container a quarter turn each day to prevent the seedlings from overreaching toward the light and developing weak, elongated stems. Also, gently brush the palm of your hand against the tops of the seedlings to encourage strong stem growth.
FEED THEM WELL
Proper nutrition at a consistent rate will keep your seedlings growing strong. When the embryo inside a seed is developing, it relies on food stored in the endosperm to fuel its growth. As the shoot emerges from the soil and the true leaves develop, the initial nutrients supplied by the endosperm will be depleted and supplemental fertilization is then required. Most seed-starting mixes contain a small nutrient charge to help make this transition while not burning the developing roots. However, once the true leaves emerge, it is time to begin a half-strength liquid fertilizer regimen on a weekly basis.
One of my favorite garden pastimes is cooking up new ideas for planting containers. I’ve never bothered to count just how many large ceramic outdoor pots I plant each year, but the number easily tops 100.
But no matter how many large ceramic outdoor pots I display, I’ve come to realize there’s no mystery in making a scrumptious container planting as long as I follow a simple three-ingredient recipe. First and foremost is what I call a “thriller,” a centerpiece plant with star quality, something big, bold, and beautiful. Then I add a few spicy “fillers,” foliage or flowering plants that will complement but not overwhelm the main player. Finally, I add a savory splash of mischief, a “spiller” that just tumbles out of the pot. As long as I use each of those kinds of plants—in various proportions—and take care to balance colors and textures, I can create a pot with pizzazz.
Thrillers work best in compositions where they are the tallest plant. For me, they are also the starting point in a container design. I select my thriller, then build around it. At planting time, the thriller goes in the center of a large ceramic outdoor pots that will be viewed from all sides or at the back of a pot that will be displayed in a corner or against a wall.
When planting a large ceramic outdoor pots, I position my fillers around the thriller. I often use a mix of plants for this job: some with foliar interest, others with flowers. For flowery fillers, I avoid perennial varieties in favor of uncommon, striking annuals or tender perennials for their much longer flowering season. Since the goal of container plants is to attract the eye, these plants add an alluring unusual flavor. I like bountiful-looking containers, so I cram in as many fillers as I can.
Spillers should do more than soften a pot and link it to its place. Well-chosen spillers continue the dialogue begun by the thriller and filler. To deepen that conversation, I look for spillers that echo or contrast with the pot’s other plants by virtue of shape, color, or texture.
A woody, branching plant, basil is a warm-weather annual that grows very fast in 80- to 90-degree weather. When growing basil, note that two or three plants will yield plenty of fresh basil for a family of four — unless you plan to make pesto. (To make and freeze a winter’s supply of pesto, plant a dozen or more.) Many gardeners mix various types of basil in their flower beds, where it is ready for a quick harvest anytime. It is also great for containers. Basil can be a beautiful addition to the garden and landscape. This pot of purple basil provides height, color, and flavor in a patio-side garden bed. You can plant a mix of different types of basil (in this case, sweet basil, spicy globe basil, and Thai basil) in a large, colorful glazed ceramic pottery. Not only will it look lovely sitting on the deck or patio, but it will also put a range of flavors at your fingertips.
Soil, Planting, And Care
basil needs 6 to 8 hours of sun; in the South and Southwest, it benefits from afternoon shade. Set out plants at least 2 weeks after the last frost in spring; summer planting is okay, too. Space at the distance recommended on the label, which is generally 12 to 18 inches apart. Plants are very frost sensitive, so keep plants protected in case of a late cold spell. Basil likes rich, moist, but well-drained soil with a pH of 6 to 7. Because basil is harvested continually for lots of leaves, it needs a little fertilizer. When planting, add plenty of organic nutrients from compost, blood meal, or cottonseed meal to the soil. Feed with Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food every couple of weeks to help keep tender new leaves coming on as you pinch back the stem tips.
If planting in a glazed ceramic pottery, use a large ceramic pot to keep the plants from drying out quickly in hot weather. You may also want to add a water-retaining polymer to the potting soil to keep the soil evenly moist and extend the time between waterings
All types of mint (including sweet mint, spearmint, peppermint, and chocolate mint) are fast-growing, spreading plants, so you must give them a place to spread without getting in the way, or plant them in a large ceramic planter. Mint sends out runners that spread above and just below the ground, quickly forming large, lush green patches. In the right place it makes a pretty seasonal ground cover. You can also contain mint in tight places such as between pavers of a walkway where your feet will brush against the leaves to release its fragrance.
Because mint tends to take over, many gardeners plant mint in a small ceramic pot and then plant that pot in the ground or inside a large ceramic planter.
Plant mint in the spring, or in the fall in frost-free climates, setting seedlings 18 to 24 inches apart. The most popular way to grow mint is in a pot where you can keep it in check and handy near the kitchen for a constant supply of sprigs. Add water-retaining polymer to the potting soil to be sure that it stays moist.
In the ground, select a damp area in your garden in either full sun or part shade. Mint prefers fertile soil with a pH from 6.0 to 7.0. Mint is plenty vigorous on its own, but will appreciate a little fertilizer every few weeks, especially if you harvest a lot. Use Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food, which is low in salts and won’t cause leaf tips to brown. Keep the soil moist and mulch around the plant to keep its roots moist.
Keep plants in check by harvesting the tips regularly and pulling up wayward runners. Mint’s small flowers bloom from June to September; trim these before the buds open to keep the plant compact. Although slightly frost tolerant, the top of mint will eventually die back in winter except in zones 8 and south, but the root are quite hardy, surviving into zone 5 (some varieties even into zone 3). Lift and replant your mint every 3 to 4 years to keep your patch’s flavor and scent strong.
Cover the drainage holes with a mesh screen to prevent them from clogging and to keep soil from washing through onto your patio or deck.
Fill the ceramic pot with soil up to a few inches from the top using a top-quality, all-purpose potting mix. This will leave room for the bulk of your plants’ existing root-balls and soil. Add more soil if your plants are in small nursery pots.
Add slow-release fertilizer to the top of the soil. Using your fingers or a trowel, thoroughly and evenly work the fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Pack the soil and fertilizer mixture gently into the big ceramic pot with your hands, making sure there are no voids.
Plant large plants first, adding smaller plants as you move out toward the edges of the glazed pot. Fill in with soil as you go, making sure not to cover the tops of the roots with more than half an inch of soil.
Water the container slowly, with your sprayer set to a gentle shower, for up to 10 minutes to allow the new soil to absorb the water properly. You can stop watering when the water is flowing freely out of the container’s drainage holes.
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When presented with the estimate for the list of annuals for containers on her terrace, my customer lamented, “It seems like so much money to spend on plants that will be thrown away at the end of the summer.” Aiming to please, I decided to experiment with perennials that could be used in ceramic planters and later transferred to the garden.
Before this, I hadn’t tried planting perennials in containers. At first, visions of flopping plants and pathetic foliage flashed through my head. What was I going to do about the fact that most perennials only bloom for about a month? I began looking through plant catalogs with a few requirements in mind.
First, I didn’t want anything that had to be staked or fussed with. Then I looked for plants with interesting textures and colorful foliage. Finally, I wanted to be able to reuse these plants in the garden. Some of the plants had to be able to withstand the relentless heat and sun of a southwestern exposure. Others needed to flourish in the shady conditions of the north side of the house. The ceramic planters needed to be planted by mid-May and still look good by the end of the summer.
My choices for that first season were a bit cautious, but they were successful. For the sunny side, I chose groupings of fountain grass, tickseed, tricolor sage, and aster. Because I planted in early May, I decided to use the annual white alyssum to spill out over the edge of the ceramic planters, to give it interest until the perennials kicked in. On the shady side, I used ‘Frances Williams’ hosta, bleeding heart, and spotted deadnettle, with the annual blue lobelia as an edging.
By the time I had finished, the containers looked respectably full, although a bit quiet. By mid-June, the perennials were so full that they almost covered up the alyssum and lobelia on the edges. The foliage colors of the hosta and lamium were cool and soothing on the shady refuge of the north-facing terrace, and the flowers and foliage of the bleeding heart lasted well into early fall. The tickseed beamed its pale yellow lights starting in July and was a handsome companion to the fountain grass. In August, when most ceramic planters are looking weary, mine were fresh and lively.
The perennial containers were much easier to care for than their annual counterparts. They required far less deadheading and deadleafing than annuals do. I was able to water them less often, and they didn’t get that tired look that annuals have around Labor Day. Also, I enjoyed watching the transition of the plants’ growth throughout the season. This was a great way to experiment with new plants. I had all summer to note their habits and changes and to decide where and how I wanted to use them in the garden.
I emptied the containers in October. Even though they still looked pretty good, I wanted the plants to have a chance to acclimate to the garden before the cold weather arrived. I carefully lifted the plants out using my trowel and hands. Some plants had grown quite a bit, so I divided them—an added bonus. I went around the garden with my “leftovers,” tucking them into all the bare areas. Some plants didn’t fit into the existing garden scheme just then, so I put them aside into a holding bed for the following year. I treated them all as new perennials, watering them in well and covering them with evergreen boughs after the ground froze to protect them from heaving.
Originally, I had planned for my containers to be at their peak in August and September, but experimenting with perennials over the years has shown me that I can have a palette of color and texture that changes throughout the season. The garden benefits from my regular fall infusions of plants, and having extra plants around is also great if I feel like starting a new project. When I’m planting new containers in spring and I need extra material, I can just go dig it out of a bed or divide an existing perennial. And best of all, as I pointed out to my client, we get two different uses out of the same plant. That’s garden synergy at its best.
Looking out the window at my garden, I find it hard to imagine it without containers. Sixty of them, strategically placed throughout my garden, provide design solutions for difficult places.
I use outdoor ceramic pots as major structural elements to help create the framework of the garden, or as visual cues to lead the eye along a path or toward a destination. I also place them to screen unsightly views. Patios, decks, and entryways become lush, intimate spaces when I embellish them with containers. And I often add outdoor ceramic pots to a bed or border to introduce a new color or shape.
Artfully designed and beautifully planted containers are striking on their own, but using them throughout a design also adds a sense of coherence to a garden. Here are some examples, from gardens I have designed and others I have visited, of the way careful and considered placement of containers can be used to resolve design challenges.
By arranging a group of three ceramic pots together on a brick pad at the base of a large arbor in my back garden, I was able to link the vertical structure to the horizontal ground plane and create the illusion that the arbor is surrounded by a garden rather than by a lawn (below left). The massing of plants at the base of the arbor also balances the overhead tangle of rose canes and clematis vines.
Placing a outdoor ceramic pot where several sight lines or pathways converge (above right) draws the eye forward and pulls you into the garden. The ceramic pot becomes a focal point, acting as a major structural element of the design.
Throughout the garden, I strategically place containers to help direct traffic and alert visitors to changes as they move from one space to the next. I use groups of pots on either side of a step to signal an elevation change.
Pots sitting in a path (above) or on the edge of a walkway or deck force you to slow down and consider the garden as you walk by. I also use ceramic pots to signal the transition between paved and unpaved surfaces. I set a group of terra-cotta pots on the corner of my terrace to prevent visitors from stepping off into the garden and forging a new trail in the lawn. By lining my stairs with large pots, I subtly lure visitors from the front walk to the porch. Every three months, I install new plant combinations that reflect the changing cycle of the seasons so visitors always have something new to look at.
I often use pots to add height or color to a garden bed where these elements are missing. In one garden (right), I placed a pot of annuals in a border when a shot of color was needed. I like the versatility of switching glazed ceramic pots in and out of beds and the ability to change the feel of the garden by manipulating small vignettes on a moment’s notice. At a friend’s garden, a cobalt-blue pot placed in a dark spot in a bed draws your eye in and makes the space seem larger while it unites the garden and architecture by echoing the color of the nearby house.
Containers situated in outdoor living areas (right) become part of the furnishings, adding visual interest, color, and fragrance. Here, an empty deck comes alive when filled with pots of annuals and perennials planted to provide a succession of color throughout the summer. Even the smallest balcony or terrace can be transformed into a lush Eden by groups of pots.
When I plant containers of bulbs in the fall, I’m thinking of the color and drama they will add to the following spring’s landscape. Not only will these planted pots create focal points throughout the garden, but they will also welcome visitors at entryways and add a touch of bright color to the spring garden.
Any bulb can be planted in a container, but tulips are by far my favorite because of their simple form and the infinite choice of colors. You can combine different types of bulbs in a single tall ceramic pot, but be sure they bloom at the same time or the earlier bulb’s dying foliage will mar the display of the later-flowering bulb. I prefer to plant only one type of bulb per container to get the maximum impact. By choosing bulbs with staggered bloom times we have a succession of flowers from early March through mid-May.
I plant our bulbs in late October in tall ceramic pots with good drainage. In a 24-inch container I plant either 50 tulips, 30 large-flowered daffodils, 50 small-flowered daffodils, or 100 minor bulbs, like Crocus, Muscari, Scilla, or Iris species or cultivars. I fill the pot with a soil mix that drains very well so the bulbs will sit in moist but not soggy soil. I plant the bulbs just as I would in the ground, at a soil depth of twice the diameter of the bulb.
If I am planting more than one type of bulb in the same ceramic pot and they require different planting depths, I layer the bulbs (illustration at right). I fill the glazed ceramic pot to the right level and plant the larger bulbs, then cover them with soil until it’s at the proper depth to plant the smaller bulbs. Finally, I fill the container with soil, being sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of space between the surface of the soil and the top of the container for easy watering.
I water the planted container thoroughly, then water periodically throughout the winter. The bulbs should not sit in soil that is too wet, but you also don’t want them to dry out entirely.
To plant a ceramic pot with different species of bulbs, plant the larger bulbs first, then cover them with soil and plant the smaller bulbs. Fill the container with soil to just below the rim.
Gardening in Seattle makes overwintering bulbs in containers rather easy. I use mostly stoneware pots because they can be left outside through the winter. Our mild winters allow us to group the pots together tightly in our nursery and leave them outside for the season.
If your winter is just too severe to risk leaving the bulbs out or you want to use bulbs in a tall ceramic pot that can’t be stored in the cold, you have another option. Plant your bulbs in small 6-inch or 8-inch ceramic pots and overwinter them under protection outdoors or in a cold garage. In the spring, as they start to bloom, you can then sink the pots into larger display containers. Bring your tall ceramic pots outside in the spring when the danger of hard frost has passed or when the bulbs in the ground are starting to emerge.
After the flowers have faded and the spring gala is over, I plant all the bulbs except for the tulips in the garden. Tulips tend not to do well in subsequent years, so I compost them. Then I start thinking ahead to the varieties I’ll be planting up in the fall for next year’s display.
Container gardening requires less time, space, and energy than inground planting and is just as much fun. In terms of plant material, the only limitation is your budget. As for the planters themselves, you will find ceramic outdoor pots of every size, shape, and material, along with less-conventional vessels at garden centers, antique shops, and hardware stores. After all, a container can be anything that holds soil and provides drainage.
If you are unsure about how to design a container garden, feel free to dive right in. Much of the fun of playing around with large ceramic outdoorpots is that there are so many different ways to use them. And a pot’s portability makes it easy to correct poor placement. No matter where you live, containers can add pizzazz to the ordinary, create color and pattern against a blank wall, and provide high points in the landscape.
A triangle always works
Containers can be grouped into vignettes the same way plants can. A triangular arrangement of pots will produce quick, pleasing results. In design terms, a triangle consists of a dominant central element flanked by components of smaller stature. This form is a staple of all art forms for good reason: It always works.
Allow one pot to dominate
A large ceramic outdoor pot grouping will quickly fall into place if the tallest element is placed at the rear of the composition with the other pots on either side. Plant the tall ceramic outdoor pot with something appropriately commanding so it will dominate the grouping
Take it as far as you want
To expand on the classic triangle grouping, simply add more subordinate ceramic outdoor pots. While no hard-andfast rules exist concerning how many to use, it is easier to arrange uneven numbers into a pleasing pattern.
Provide something to look at
The purpose of a focal point is to attract attention. If you are burdened with an area where nothing adequately does this job, a container will quickly fill the void. Because they can be planted and replanted with colorful, eye-catching plants, containers have an advantage over inground combinations.
Create coherence in mixed plantings
The opposite of having nothing to look at is having too much to look at. Often in a mixed border, there can be so much going on that one isn’t sure where to look first. Adding a focal point provides a sense of order to such scenes.
Masses calm a busy background
The rigid, repetitive pattern of a brick wall can be tiring on the eye. But when blurred by lush masses of foliage and colorful flowers, the lines of mortar recede. The terra-cotta pots echo the warm color of the brick. The clusters of bright red flowers contrast with the darker orange and the greens of the foliage, bringing the whole scheme to life.
Fine texture stands out against a plain wall
A plain, unadorned wall can dominate an area with its monotony and mass. One can take advantage of these features by using them as a backdrop for fine-textured foliage that can often get lost on a large scale. The photo at right shows how simple means can achieve a beautiful effect. Large ceramic outdoor pots of small trees with fine foliage are evenly spaced along a perfectly plain wall. A border of wispy ornamental grass reinforces the container plantings so that, together, they hold their own against the bulk of the wall.
Saturated colors work with a light backdrop
Unadorned with plants, this white wall would dominate the area with glaring brightness. But as the background for a dense, complex arrangement of forms and colors, it is perfect.