Fill and Spill: How to Plant a Mixed Container

Here at Bob’s Market we offer a number of pre-planted containers, but we also have everything you need to plant a mixed container of your own design.  The basic principle that we use when designing planters like the ones pictured is the “Fill and Spill” method.  Use these simple steps to create a beautiful work of living art.

1. Select Your Container
When it comes to containers there is no limit to what can be used.  Some folks go the traditional route with containers designed specifically for planting.  Others go the “green” route and repurpose containers like coffee cans, old washtubs, and more.  I’ve even seen containers made from old computer monitors!

2. Select Your Plants
100_2042When it comes to planning a mixed container selecting plants of different growth habits will create the most interest.  Select tall plants like ornamental grasses to add height.  We even have some containers this year with ornamental corn!  Then add something to “fill” the container.  These are low growing plants like begonias, impatiens, etc.  Finally select a plant to “spill” over the sides.  Ivies, trailing petunias, and ornamental sweet potatoes are favorites here at Bob’s.

Take into consideration the size of your plants as they mature.  It is fine to plant them close together, but be sure to leave enough room for the roots to grow down.  Also consider how your container will drain.  Containers originally designed to be watertight will need drainage holes added.   Roots allowed to sit in water will form “root rot”.

3. Gravel
Another way to help with drainage is to add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the container.  The gravel prevents the roots from sitting in water.  Some planting containers are designed with raised drain holes in the bottom to create a water reservoir.

4. Choose a Potting Mix
Always start with a good quality potting soil. We’re partial to Fafard Professional Potting Mix which is formulated to have the right blend of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and starter nutrients.

5. Plant It
Usually you will be planting your mixed container with plants from different size flats, pots, etc.  Start by adding potting mix just to the bottom of the plant with the deepest root ball so that the top of its soil is about 1 inch from the top of the container.  Start with your tallest plant at the center of the container, and then add the “fill and spill” plants around the edges.  Make sure they are evenly covered with potting mix.

6. Add a Time-Release Fertilizer
For best results and easy maintenance, top off the container with a time-release fertilizer.  We recommend Jack’s Classic Classicote fertilizer.  Classicote is designed to be absorbed by the plants a little bit each time you water for up to three months.

7. Water and Enjoy!