Have you every walked into a Home Depot Garden Store and wondered what the heck you were doing? Me too! So thanks to Chris from Home Depot for clearing up a few things for us! He kindly recommends the best container flowers for sunny or shady decks, plus some advice on how not to kill them! ~Susan
When you look outside at your backyard area, do you see sights that make your heart swell with pride or want to hide in shame? Even if it’s not one extreme or the other, is your landscape just…blah?
Fortunately, one simple solution can give your backyard a boost and lift your spirits all at the same time: a container garden! And even if you’ve always had a green thumb that quickly turns into a brown hand of death for the poor flowers at your fingertips, you too can have the garden of your dreams.
All you need is a little bit of know-how and here are some options and tips to help get you growing this summer no matter your current situation, level of experience or busy lifestyle.
Back to Backyard Basics
Yes, a busy lifestyle definitely plays into the success or failure of your outdoor growing endeavors so it is crucial that the plants you pick can thrive with minimal effort.
- Larger pots are best because the more soil there is in a container, the longer it retains water before needing a refill.
- Less is more in this case – plants and flowers are living things that will need at least some care so you don’t want to spread yourself too thin until you’re sure you can easily manage all of your plants.
Decked Out Decking
Whether made of lumber or composite decking, a space that receives full sun is a good home for these sunny options:
This petunia with peppermint stripes is perfect for a back deck!
Looking for good options in shady spots? Try these:
Once you decide what to plant and you have your containers (beautiful glazed ceramic pots with drain holes or traditional terracotta pots are always great options), follow these steps:
- Add a layer of gravel or small stones to the bottom of the pot to aid in drainage. Make sure that there is at least one drainage hole in the bottom of each pot.
- Use a potting soil mix that also contains plant food. This is the most convenient soil, especially for beginners. It drains standing water well but also retains moisture which helps make for happy container plants.
- Fill the pots with your soil mix about halfway, gently place your flowers in the pots and lightly pack more soil around and over the roots until there is about one-half inch of space below the rim of the pots.
- Carefully water your new transplants so the water does not spill over the edge and follow the care instructions that came with your plants.
Most Common Cause of Death:
To water or not to water, that is the question.
Plants growing in pots will need more frequent watering than those in a garden, especially pots that get lots of sun. If your soil is dry, it’s time for another drink but otherwise, avoid overwatering. Roots need oxygen to thrive and by keeping them constantly swimming, the plant can literally drown. At a minimum, the stressed roots are prone to diseases like the dreaded root rot, so pull back on the pours if you notice browning tips or yellow leaves that fall off. Check your pots every other day to make sure they don’t dry out, and water well only when they need a drink.
Finally, keep these last little tidbits in mind when designing your container garden:
- Select a color scheme that suits your home décor and/or your taste preferences.
- Make sure whichever plants you pick are also complementary to each other in terms of spatial needs and growth requirements (don’t pick small shade lovers and big sun worshippers).
- Play around with texture in the form of varying heights and levels. For example, if you have a deck railing, some hanging options would be lovely to dangle from the railing in addition to your floor-dwellers.
- If you are grouping your containers, go with an odd number.
Now that you’re a bit more equipped for this above ground undertaking, what are you planning on planting?
In case you forget which plants are ideal for sunny vs shady spots, take this handy cheatsheet with you to the store!
Chris Long has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs since 2000. A writer for the Home Depot website, Chris writes on outdoor home improvement topics ranging from composite lumber to fencing.