(NAPS) Many believe container gardening is the new way to grow: It’s a fun, easy way to add color and bold seasonal interest to any size garden. Planting flowers and tropical plants in containers every year can become costly, but it’s easy to minimize the expense by mixing in some shrubs.
Every garden can benefit from the more permanent, year-round beauty of flowering shrubs in containers. Itís easy and rewarding to do, as long as the gardener follows a few simple guidelines.
It Starts With Location
Choosing a location for a potted shrub is the first step, as this will dictate what you can grow. Locations with easy access to water and out of the path of high winds are best, and some sun is imperative for shrubs. Roses, butterfly bush and lilac need at least six hours of uninterrupted sunlight daily; hydrangeas, azaleas and weigela will benefit from some shade during the hottest part of the day, especially in warm climates.
Your local garden center is the best place to shop for plants. To help narrow your choices, consider how tall youíd like your shrub to be and what youíd like it to contribute to your garden. Low-growing shrubs, such as OSO Easy roses and Lo & Behold butterfly bushes, offer vivid color at eye level, while taller shrubs like Fine Line buckthorn and Black Lace elderberry add dramatic height and create privacy.
To make sure your new shrub will survive the winter in your area, choose a variety that tolerates temperatures at least one zone colder than the zone you live in (visit provenwinners.com to find your hardiness zone).
The container you choose must be large enough to accommodate your shrub. Look for sturdy pots that are at least 18î across and 16î tall to allow enough room for the plant to grow; larger is preferable. The container must have several open drainage holes in the bottom. Since your potted shrub will remain outdoors year-round, look for frostproof or weatherproof containers if you live in a cold climate.
Fill your container with potting soil. Do not use garden soil or top soil, which may hinder drainage. Avoid putting anything in the bottom of the pot to take up space, as the weight of soil creates stability and the shrubís roots will need the room.
Fill the pot to within 2î of the top, tamping soil down gently to prevent settling later. Make a well in the center of the pot to accommodate the new plant. Remove the shrub from its pot (rap on its sides to dislodge it), gently untangle any visible root, and place it in the hole.
Add or remove a bit of soil until the plant sits at the same level in the new pot as it was in its original container. Rotate the plant a few times to make sure that its best side faces outward. To finish, gently push the soil around the root-ball, eliminating air pockets and making sure the entire root mass is surrounded. Water immediately and thoroughly.
Water Is Key
Water is the most important factor in caring for your potted shrub. The soil may dry out quickly, especially during periods of hot weather.
Check it frequently and water when necessary, ideally in the mornings. Winter wonít be a problem if youíve selected a hardy plant and weatherproof container, but the plant may need a drink during winter warm spells when the potting soil is not frozen. Come spring, apply a granular fertilizer formulated for woody plants and incorporate it into the top few inches of soil.
The shrub will thrive for several seasons in its pot; youíll know itís time to transplant into the ground when growth becomes less vigorous and it becomes difficult to keep it well watered.
For a complete selection of colorful hardy shrubs and tips on care and container design, visit www.provenwinners.com.