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Jason's Guide to Container Gardens

Jason’s Guide to Spring Container Gardens

Hey West Coast Gardeners! If you’re low on yard space or if your balcony is the home of your garden oasis don’t fear: most plants can be grown in a container as long as you treat your potted plants with the right level of care. Ready? Here we go!

Put in the prep work for your pots

Make sure to clean your existing pots before use or replace them with new ones. It can be tempting to skip this step because pots are likely to get dirty again in the planting process, but pots that are dirty can contain bacteria, minerals or fungus that are harmful to your plants.

Making sure pots are fresh with clean soil gives your container garden the best start. And don’t forget to use a pot big enough to fit the selection of plants you plan to use!

Choosing the right soil for container gardens

For container gardens, I prefer to use a peat, coir and perlite mixture. Make sure you stay away from topsoil mixes or mixes that have sand because sand compacts and won’t help your roots.

Really, a good potting mix will go a long way. To finish everything off, top pots with Sea Soil for nutrition and a professional look. (Read our blog post all about the wonders of Sea Soil!)

Container garden food

One of the biggest mistakes I see is not giving your planter food that helps keep plants healthy, colourful and safe from pests. When looking at your options, consider a slow release formula that’s adequate for Fall and Winter gardens. A good all-round plant food for container gardens is 14-14-14 + micro’s.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the label for best results!

watering your garden in the summer - ideas by west coast garden

Keep an eye on water levels

Depending the season, water needs will vary. For example, Fall containers don’t require as much moisture as late Spring and Summer planters because of temperature and length of day. But, after planting, water it thoroughly.  You may not need to water again for at least a week.  But keep a close eye.  If the weather is cool and damp, your planter will not require as much moisture

My biggest watering tip? Water in the morning! For your container garden’s best chance, water before noon inside the planter.  It’s always best to water with a stream inside your planter because showering your plants in the fall season will create issues such as mildew and rot. (We've covered all the in-depth ways to keep your garden hydrated in this blog post.)

planting vegetables and herbs in container gardens in spring - by West Coast Gardens

Use thriller, filler, and spiller plants

Thriller plants are the star of the planter. These plants are usually tall, lush and create a statement in containers. Plants groups such as grasses, colocasias, palms and several conifers will make planters stand out.

Keep in mind how the thriller plant will grow into the proportion of the planter and consider how the thriller plant will balance with the size of the pot and the area the pot is placed.  Using natural branches is also effective to get the desired height and will add visual interest to the design.

Watch us create a hanging basket design with thriller, spiller and filler plants in the video below.


Filler plants add mass to the planters.  These plants are to complement thriller plants and spiller plants.  I prefer textured and colourful selections of flowering and foliar plants.  Typically these plants are upright in nature, but feel free to use plants that are also spreading in nature. Be sure to position fillers around the thriller and leave room around the edge of the pot to plant spillers.

Spillers plants – the main purpose of spillers is to soften the edge of the pot and cascade.  The most effective way of anchoring a plant into it’s surroundings is selecting plants that will grow to touch the floor or at least half way. Remember that the pot becomes the backdrop of the plant and will give you a stunning visual effect. Try angling the root ball with plants that have spilling attributes to create more effect. Select plants that complement the pot with colour and length.

Consider adding additional decorative elements. For example, adding in décor, twigs, and LED lights can add a whole other dimension to your planters and make a really stunning piece.



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