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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

2015 Container Garden Trends and How To's

"Knowing the basics of container gardening can help any gardener grow lush beautiful pots all summer long," says University of Illinois Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, "and then they can get creative and follow some of the Container Garden trends of 2015."

Container gardening is a necessity to most of us who live with limited outside space and little time but still want to be surrounded by colorful, living plants. Any container can be used as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to seep out. If the roots do not have sufficient air space, they will not grow. In addition, water logged soils will cause roots to rot away and without healthy roots, container gardeners will never have healthy shoots with flowers. Be wary of some containers sold in stores that do not have drainage holes or need them to be poked out with a screwdriver or drill.

Greenhouses that grow their own plants usually sell the same soilless mix they use. It is usually recommended not to reuse soil from year to year because of the potential to spread diseases from plant to plant. However, with a large pot, adding in some new soil from year to year can keep plants vigorous.

Most horticulturists do not recommend adding a layer of rocks to the base of the plant in order to improve drainage. This garden myth causes the extra water to perch rather than fill into the rock layer. The water perches in the layer of soil above the rock and fills up all the air spaces before the water drains into the rock.

Ask an expert about plant combinations or grow all one kind of plant. For instance, a 14" planter can be planted with just three 4" pots of dragon wing begonias. Do not plant more aggressive plants with less aggressive plants. An example of this would be geraniums and sweet potato vine. Make sure all the plants combined have the same sun/shade requirements.

Do not skip on the fertilizer. Many blooming plants will not only be more vigorous but will produce more blooms with additions of fertilizer. Gardeners regularly put slow release fertilizers pellets in containers directly after planting. When heavy feeders are grown, like petunias or strawberries, slow release fertilizer should be incorporated into the soil before planting. Slow release fertilizer breaks down as the temperatures rise and can last for several months.

Water plants regularly. Once plants become vigorous watering may be needed daily. If you have accidently neglected your containers, they can be pinched back and fertilized to regain vitality.

"Container gardens have been populating the landscape for several years and have evolved beyond the dracaena spike, red geranium and vinca vine of the past," states Kelly. Container gardens have remained popular because they generate ideal growing conditions and require few resources. The Container Gardening Trends of 2015 permit gardeners to grow plants with ease but also allows them to express their own style and principals while allowing flexibility.

Bright Colorful pots are in style, particularly cobalt blue and teal. Colorful pots add a splash of color that can complement the foliage and flowers grown in the container.

Growing fruits in containers are trending. The recent introduction of container grown fruits has gardeners growing raspberries and blueberries with highly ornamental qualities right outside their back door. Illinois gardeners must continuously acidify the soil in order to grow and produce blueberries. Growing blueberries in containers allows the growers to easily amend the soil.

their back door. Illinois gardeners must continuously acidify the soil in order to grow and produce blueberries. Growing blueberries in containers allows the growers to easily amend the soil.

Growing edibles in containers such as peppers, eggplant, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, onion and Swiss chard is very easy for even beginner gardeners to produce loads of fresh produce.

Growing perennials in containers has gained in popularity. Heucheras, ornamental grasses, coneflowers, black eyed susan, ferns, iris, jacob's ladder, salvia and sedums can be either placed singly or mixed with annuals. As fall nears, perennials can then be placed in the ground or remain in the planter. Depending on the winter temperatures these plants may or may not survive the winter.

It is the year of the coleus. Coleus is an excellent addition to any container garden because of its vibrant colors and textures. Coleus can be easily taken care of and displays very little plant damage from neglect.


Container plants are being grown for the butterflies and bees. Annual butterfly weed has gained in popularity as a source of leaves for monarch larvae and a nectar source for the butterfly and the bees. This butterfly weed can be combined with sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, snapdragons and ageratum.

Herbs remain popular because they are amazingly easy to grow and extremely useful to even the novice cook. Basil, thyme and oregano can be mixed for an Italian theme. Mint can be grown in containers because otherwise it is aggressive when planted in the ground.

Moveable gardens have become popular for the non-committal gardener because they can be moved anywhere. Whether from apartment to apartment, or inside the garage away from the frost, movable gardens put plants at waist level, prevent some soil dwelling diseases and extend the growing season.

University of Illinois Extension wishes you happy planting.

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