Pick it up, pot it, and sit back and enjoy

The flexibility and easy care of containers makes them today’s go-to for adding a touch of color outdoors. (submitted photos)
The flexibility and easy care of containers makes them today’s go-to for adding a touch of color outdoors. (submitted photos)

Why are more and more garden centers stocking specific types and small sizes of “container plants” as compared to in-the-ground varieties?
It’s probably the three Ms.

Minimization
First, shifting to container gardening should mean something’s getting smaller: obviously, the space devoted to floral gardens or borders. That alone can be an energy-saving and refreshing change for the gardener.
A couple brightly-planted containers flanking the steps of an entry can have all the impact of a double border along a sidewalk. Or, a few hanging baskets in an open porch can replace the flower bed you’ve been crawling around for years.
Containers also bring plants up above ground height, so there’s less back-breaking labor for those who want to cut back, whether they’re retired and would prefer to spend their energy on other endeavors or have young kids and just don’t have the hours to tend a traditional garden.
Then there’s the fact that with containers, the tools all get smaller. No need for rototillers, shovels and other long-handled equipment here; just keep a basket of hand tools convenient. As you step out to greet a neighbor or get the mail, you can clip those old blooms or add some water.

Mobility
You couldn’t just move that orange-and-gold-themed border to the other side of the house now the exterior’s been painted a cool gray, but even a large container will succumb to a wheelbarrow, handcart or even the new heavy-duty outdoor pot movers with casters.
Heading out of state for a couple weeks in the summer? It’s a lot easier to ask a friend or neighbor to water a few containers a couple times a week than to set up hoses in a ground-level garden and monitor them.
Or the pots can just be moved to the shady side of the house for a bit of a nap, if you’re not too fussy. They won’t thrive there forever, but they won’t dry out nearly as fast as they will in full sun. If someone’s checking them for moisture, they won’t need to make as many trips.
Some folks keep their containers aground, to put some color pop into a landscaped border. They don’t have to commit to one color or plant type or even the same spot.
 
Mutability

Did something not work out? Are the mums moping? Calibrachoa looking cramped? Salvia sad?
Containers offer the beauty of change, whether you vow not to use the same plant next summer or pull it out and stick in something else today.
At the end of the season, when everything looks as run-down as a late August day feels, change it all out for a few cool-weather-hardy heucheras or some of the vibrant autumn-hued mums.  
Different combinations, different containers, different placement — when their feet aren’t rooted in the ground, the look of your outdoor decor is all up to you!

 

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