Tips for Outdoor Planters

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 Let me preface this blog post by saying that I have no gardening skills AT ALL.  I don’t have the time management or patience for such things.  My husband, on the other hand, loves that stuff.  He managed to grow several different types of vegetables in a tiny little space that only occasionally gets sun.  He’s amazing.

Me… I am the plant killer.  In fact, the only reason I even have content for this post, is because I killed the indoor plant that was housed in the planter pictured above.  Don’t believe me?

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 There’s the proof at the bottom of our trash bin.

Now, it might look to you like that is a living plant, and you might be right.  But what you don’t know is that it was about 3 times the size, with a plethora of pretty, green leaves when my mom gave it to us.  Now it’s just a shell of its former self.

She was trying to do a good thing, my mom.  Gift us something to spruce up our home decor.  However, our house is on a hill that slopes back into the woods.  Most of our windows are on the back of our house.  In fact, there’s only one set of windows on the front of the house on the main floor.  So there is just not enough sun getting in to keep an indoor plant thriving.

But let’s be real.  I’m not fooling anyone with my “no sun” excuses.  I just cannot be trusted to water plants on a regular basis.  Especially if they are hiding in the one corner of the house that gets sun exposure.  That’s the real reason I ditched my indoor plant for some outdoor ones.

My mom came to visit a few weeks ago and we spent a good amount of time fantasizing about what we would change about the outside of my house to make me like it more.  Of course, everything we came up with required major work and/or a lot of money.  Neither of which I was too keen on.

So mom got the idea to make some cosmetic changes instead.  Starting with a big potted plant.  At first, I was skeptical.  How could one potted plant really change the look of my house from the outside?  But as we walked around the neighborhood, I started to notice the difference planters really could make.  So I said, “What the heck?  Let’s do it”.

Since, as I stated earlier, I have zero gardening skills, I let mom drive the bus on this one.  She had a pretty good method that I am going to let you in on a little later.  In the meantime, I will show you the result of our first experiment.

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 Ta-Da!  This is the plant we “created” after a week or two of growth.  It’s filling in very nicely, and it added a much needed pop of color to my front porch.

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 So now that I’ve showed you what my mom taught me as far as “gardening” goes, I am going to show you the method I used to turn my indoor planter into an outdoor one!

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1:  Pick your planter.  Obviously, I am using the one I had my indoor plant in.  Nothing special about it.  It’s small, heavy-duty plastic.

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 Step 2:  Drill holes in the bottom.  Since I was using it as an indoor planter, there were no holes in the bottom.  As an outdoor planter, it will probably need more water, and it will definitely get some rain.  So I drilled some holes in the bottom to allow the excess water to drain out.

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 Step 3:  This step is optional.  I put some plastic at the bottom of the planter.  Mom told me to do this because it fills up some of the excess space.  The planter that she and I did was a lot bigger, and it made a lot more sense with that.  It makes the plant lighter and easier to move around.  It gives the soil a little room to shift and settle.  Also, it provides a little space at the bottom for the excess water to drain.

For this particular plant, I just used one empty plastic gallon jug.  I probably didn’t need it at all, but I wanted to show this step because I thought it was clever.  For the bigger one, we used several jugs and some plastic water bottles.

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 Step 4:  Pick your soil.  I don’t know much about soil, and I am not about to begin recommending brands and types, or anything like that.  I went with the Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.  Mom likes it because it kind of does the work for you.  Anything that says “Protects Against Over & Underwatering” on the front of the bag sounds perfect to me.

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 Step 5:  Fill your planter with soil.  I used a gardening shovel (I think it’s called a spade) to put my potting mix into the planter on top of my plastic jug.

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 Step 6:  Pick your plants.  This is the fun part!  Normally, I’d be totally lost in this situation.  However, with mom’s method, I was able to pick out some plants of my own from Lowes that I felt pretty good about.  Just follow a few simple rules.

  1. Make sure all your plants require the same amount of sun/shade.  All mine were tagged as “Partial Sun – Morning Sun Only”.  Choose depending on where you’re going to keep your planter.  That part is pretty self-explanatory.
  2. Pick at least one of each of the following types of plants:  Tall, Hanging, Spreading, and Fillers (if needed).  These are, by no means, technical names.  They are just how I remembered them when mom explained it to me.

Tall plants are obviously plants with some height to them.  One of these is probably enough.

Hanging plants are ones that will grow over the side of your planter and hang off the edge.  I think one on each side is nice looking.

Spreading plants are going to be your middle, focus plants.  Pick something that will look good as it grows out.  At least two is probably a good start.

Filler plants are small plants that can be added to give the mix some more color or range.  I didn’t have enough room for any filler plants in my small planter, but the little blue ones are a good example in the bigger planter.

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 Step 7:  Plant your plants.  The easiest way to get the plants out is to squeeze the container and loosen up the soil and roots.  Then tip it upside down and pull the plant out gently.

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 I started with my tall plant and placed it towards the back so it wouldn’t cover up anything important.  Just dig a hole in your soil, place the plant inside, and pack the soil around it.

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 I planted my spreading plants next.  They are the focal point, so I put them right in the center.

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 Lastly, I planted my hanging plants.  I put them on either side so they could grow over and down the side of the planter.

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 The filler plants would normally be the last step.  However, I think my spreading plants will probably get the job done when they grow a little.  So I skipped the fillers this time around.

As you can see from the first plant we did, the fillers can add a whole different dimension and look to a plant.  So don’t discount them.  They can definitely provide some value.

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 Step 8:  Water!  This is where I get lazy.  I didn’t even water my brand new plant as soon as it was done.  The baby was hungry, so I went inside and left the plant in the driveway for my husband to water when he got home.  Which he did, and he will continue to do.  Like I said, I am the plant killer.  I might be able to put together a nice looking potted plant now, but there’s still no guarantee I can keep it alive.  And that is why I put hubby in charge.  Since he already has all his garden vegetables to take care of, I told him the outdoor plants are now his responsibility, too.  I will feed our daughter.  He will feed our plants.  Good deal.

So that’s it!  The final result looks pretty good.  Once it starts to grow and fill the pot some more, it will look even better!

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 Thanks for the plant lesson mom.  Next up, teach me how to cook all my favorite meals from my youth.  Ready… GO!

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I know someone will inevitably ask… that is the original state flag of Maryland

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