We have kids that love to play in the dirt, so this year we decided to get them involved in planting and caring for our garden. It’s nice to have an extra set of hands to weed and water, and it gives us another opportunity for family together time — our favourite thing! This year we’re exploring container gardening. It’s a nice starting place for kids (and adults!) who haven’t gardened much, and a great way to experiment with new and different types of plants.
Here are some container gardening tips sure everyone has fun and your garden looks beautiful all summer long.
The first step is to figure out where your containers will live. This will help you determine the amount of sun that spot receives in a day which will dictate the type of plant you should get for your container. The next thing to consider is container size, in a 12 – 14” pot you will want to plant 3 – 5 plants and in a 16 – 18” pot, plan for 5 – 7 plants.
We like to make sure we’ve got tools for mom and dad as well as smaller things for the kids to use. The kids love that they have their own set of gloves and little garden trowel. We’ve found that when kids aren’t distracted by dirty hands, gloves that are too big, or heavy tools, they can really focus on the fun aspects of gardening.
Pick the perfect plants
When container gardening, plan to get one tall plant, called a Thriller, some medium height plants, called Fillers, and trailing plants, called Spillers. This combination of a Thriller, Fillers and Spillers creates a beautiful and full looking container. When trying to figure out which plants to get, the plant tag is your best source of information. It will tell you the amount of sun a plant requires, the height and width it grows and even if it trails or not. You’ll get watering information and fertilizing information too. Most tags will even show a picture of what the plant will look like in full bloom, which is really helpful this time of year when plants may not be flowering yet.
Pick plants with varying textures, sizes, and colours of foliage. Select plants with complementary coloured blooms. You can go all one colour, varying shades of a colour or go with multi-coloured if you are looking for something dramatic!
Give them ownership
Dedicate a container or two for kids only, let them pick the plants, plant them, and care for them. When at the Garden Centre, show your kids the plant tags. We love that the folks at the PC® Garden Centre made it super simple and colour coded everything, so even little ones who can’t quite read yet can hunt out the yellow tags for full sun plants, or the purple tags for partial shade loving plants.
When you are back home and ready to plant, first let the kids watch you plant a container and then encourage them to fill up their own planter with soil and plants. Make sure to give everything a good water!
Plant it right
There are a few very simple steps when it comes to planting your container to ensure your plants are happy and stay healthy for a long time.
- Fill your container with soil, leaving about 1 – 2” from the top of the pot.
- Add a slow release plant food, like the Magic®-Grow hanging basket and planter once-a-season plant food from President’s Choice. Simply mix a scoop of the plant food into the top 1.5 – 2” of soil before planting. It will keep your plants happy all spring and summer long!
- If your planter is viewed from all sides, you’ll be planting your Thriller in the middle, if it’s only viewed from one side, plant your Thriller at the back. Then surround by Fillers and finally add the Spillers, making sure to firmly push the plant into the soil and cover the root ball.
- Give the plants a good drink of water. And make sure you use a plant fertilizer every 1 – 2 weeks for the biggest blooms. We’re using the Magic®-Grow blooms single dose plant fertilizer from President’s Choice this summer. The little packets get tossed into the watering can and dissolve evenly for perfect micronutrient distribution.
- As the season rolls on you may need to lop off dead or dying flowers, leaves, and plant stalks. This keeps the container looking neat and makes sure your plant isn’t spending any energy on dying branches.
- At the end of the season, take out any perennials from your container and plant them in your landscape to enjoy year after year!
Don’t think of gardening as a chore, instead, think of it as a fun activity to do together as a family. It’s a great stress reliever and a wonderful creative outlet for kids and parents too.
What are you planting in your garden this year?
Here are the plants that made it into our containers, all found at the PC® Garden Centre at our local Superstore.
Partial shade planter
- Thriller – ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass
- Fillers – ‘Catching Fire’ Foamy Bells Heucherella, Spurge Euphorbia, ‘French Quarter’ Sun Coleus
- Spillers – ‘Goldi’ Lysimachia
Full sun planter
- Thriller – ‘Avalanche’ Feather Reed Grass
- Fillers – ‘Palace’ Lobelia
- Spillers – Night Sky Petunia (our new favourite plant!)
By: Michelle Hughes