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Planters, information overload.

jgreen570jgreen570 Posts: 2
Hello all,

I have made some wooden planters and was gearing up to get the flowers/plants, then got complete information overload.
What I would like to achieve is something that has flowers all year round (if possible) always looks full and green, and is minimal maintenance.
My knowledge base so far:

You should have 'thrillers, fillers, and spillers'.
Fill the area with soil to remove air (and 1 knuckle from the rim).
Use compost not soil to prevent weeds.
Situate in shade/sun according to plant type.
Use water retaining pellets.

Any advice would be most appreciated, especially to learn which plants and varieties work best together.
Many thanks.


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,637
    The compost not soil point won't work. Weeds love compost just as much as soil. Use what your plants will need e.g. if there are going to be perennials in there use John Innes No.3 rather than mpc. Annuals will be fine in mpc.
  • Tanty2Tanty2 Posts: 218
    Have a look at Campanula Portenschlagiana - easy to keep to size if it spills over too much (it doesn't sulk if you chop it right back but you probably won't need to) - it's evergreen and has the cutest purple flowers for ages in summer.  It is pretty much no maintenance :)

    You could plant bulbs to grow up through it, some for spring flowering, some for autumn flowering (nerine, maybe?).

    Use good compost like John Innes, and water properly during dry weather - this means one good soaking, not frequent little bits of water.

    Once a year, early Spring, gently scrape away the top inch of compost and replace with fresh compost (s'called top dressing).

    Cordylines are good for height and structure all year round in a pot.

    The 'removing air' advice, I think, is advice that when you put plants in, make sure you firm the soil around the roots to make sure the roots and soil are in good contact, with no air pockets!

    If you want to put a planter in shade, have a look at Brunnera (Jack Frost is pretty, or Golden Jack Frost) and maybe Asarum Europaeum for ground cover (evergreen, gorgeous, unusual, requires absolutely no maintenance).

    If Brunnera gets a wee bit leggy, you can just grab it by the neck and cut it away - you'll find a whole fresh new crop of leaves underneath!  It grows back super fast.  This isn't very orthodox advice, but it works :)
  • jgreen570jgreen570 Posts: 2
    Wow thank you, that points me in the right direction.
    I guess once you find a plant and a good arrangement that works anything extra is a bonus.

    The John Innes compost, is that the best brand or is it a generic name used for that type?

    The plastic planters to go inside are 100cm x 22 x 18.

    Tanty2, I have seen some arrange their plants/bulbs in layers (I think the term is lasagne), I guess this means that each layer of plants come up in different seasons.

    Thankyou for your input guys, really appreciate the knowledge. I've got a lot of reading to do..
  • LTobyLToby Posts: 208
    I understand what you are trying to achieve.

    Here are additional tips; 

    When you are creating something like this, you need to visualise the outcome ... how it looks when in bloom in a specific season? or at what location in your garden. Considerations are: the foliage colours, shapes, heights of the plants, whether perennial or annual (I include both), herbaceous or deciduous plants, and colours of flower combination, simple or complex arrangement, the size of the pot matters because of the seasonal plants that you will put in and the soil / compost that you will add ...

    I call this part of my gardening as a 'Multiple-plants Arrangement'.

    the following images are examples of some MPAs that I created which incorporated the 'considerations' mentioned above;

    The above photo is four-seasons MPA (complex) - the image is a Summer look. Some of the plants here will flow into Autumn, then Winter to the next Spring again. And this enjoy the morning sun ...

    The following images are also Four-seasons (but simple & elegant) with only few plants with emphasis on foliage, height, colours and shape of the pot.

    Above image is Last Summer look (created during Spring where I incorporated a Sunflower ...)

    Autumn look

    Winter look

    This is 2020 Spring look ...

    Another complex one below (Winter/ Early Spring look), something for the Summer will come up in this pot at later season ...

    Your creativity is endless ... it is also important to identify plants accessibility of the plants that you like to incorporate. Sometimes, nurseries do not carry the plants that you like, if they don't have can you compromise on what they carry and will it coordinate with the elements that you are trying to put together? .. so planning ahead is essential.

    As we all know, gardening is an art and there is a big room for experimentation. Do not be afraid to experiment. Good luck. 

    Aberdeenshire, Scotland
  • Tanty2Tanty2 Posts: 218
    Have fun with your bulb lasagne :)  There's a great video from Monty on here somewhere about the best layering strategies!  Remember with bulbs that once you dead-head them, you must leave the leaves until they go brown so they put as much energy back into the bulbs for next year as possible.  Have fun!
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