Friday, May 1, 2020

Potted Partners (in painted pots)

Early May brings a few breaths of warmth to Wisconsin… warm breaths from Mother Nature are appreciated by gardeners everywhere.  Sunshine and warmer days mean we can get our gloved hands into the soil and DIG IN!

A favorite activity in early May is assembling annuals and perennials into decorative containers.  Often garden centers will have an abundance of annuals and perennials available to fulfill the container design of your choice.  Yes, perennials can be utilized in containers too—just be sure to disassemble container plantings in September and place perennials into the soil (removed from their pots) to winter over properly.

The term “potted partners” can mean a single large pot contains a few different genus and species that are compatible (sun lovers with sun lovers, drought tolerant with drought tolerant, complementary color hues.)  “Potted partners” can also mean you will choose a single variety for each pot—then group the planted pots together to form an interesting array of colorful blooms and textured foliage.  (I have seen this design technique utilized at botanical gardens, and it was quite attractive.)

My first container of “potted partners” was completed this afternoon.  A clean, painted container filled with compost and potting soil will be the perfect home for a few herbs.  Since chives and garlic chives (perennials from the Allium genus) have emerged in my garden, I transplanted a clump of each into a large pot. A clump of parsley (a biennial) partners nicely with the chives and this container can remain outdoors, even if we have a few freezing nighttime temps in May.  (During June I can add more tender herbs to the container, like sweet basil.)

Painted pots—a fun project for adults and older kids; use leftover acrylic latex indoor paint, latex primer, paint brushes, large plastic flower pots (do NOT use terra cotta or clay pots.)  First, while wearing disposable plastic gloves, wash insides of all pots with a diluted bleach solution; one tbsp bleach to one quart water.  Rinse pots thoroughly after washing; dry with an old towel.   Second, paint one coat of primer paint on OUTSIDE of each pot.  Third, using leftover acrylic latex indoor paint, I suggest painting TWO COATS once the primer has dried.  Fourth, allow to dry completely before placing soil and plants into each pot. 

(Please see my repainted plastic pot of geraniums here.)

You will be proud of how pretty your potted partners look in repurposed painted pots!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture