Thursday, June 30, 2011

Saving Soil When Planting Large Planters by Caroline Reardon

Magnificent plant pots abound, from the local discount store to upscale greenhouses. Terra cotta, glazed, even plastic that looks like pottery—or not, in hot lime green, tangerine, aquamarine. These large containers make a strong statement massed on the porch by your front door or along the patio by the lawn chairs. And then comes the fun of choosing an artistic combo of leaf shapes, colors, uprights and vines.

And soil. Reality hits when you realize how much potting soil you will need to nurture this fine display! Perhaps as much as two feet of soil at the bottom of a tall pot that the roots will never touch.

Recycling to the rescue. Collect some empty aluminum pop cans from your recycling bin and arrange them in the bottom of the pot, deep enough to leave 8"-12" above for the soil.

Cover the cans with a couple layers of landscape cloth. This will keep the potting soil from filtering down into the spaces between the cans and still allow for good drainage. I wanted a trellis for the Black Eyed Susan vine I would be planting so cut a couple of holes in the cloth and pushed in the sticks. Soil will hold them in place.

Fill the remaining space with your favorite potting soil and then plant, usually starting from the center with the tallest selections and working toward the edges. Crowded plantings make the most spectacular displays, as long as you remember to fertilize throughout the summer. And now you have more soil for your next display.