Container Gardening – How to fill your Flower Pots on a Budget

How to pot your own flowers.

I love container gardening.  It is my second love next to the Lord, DH, my kids, my garden, my cow and coffee.  OK, maybe it’s my 6th love.

I am not an expert on flower arrangements.  Someone else could probably tell you much, much more about flowers and potting them.  I am a flower enthusiast.  I love them.  I grow them everywhere I can.

I have flowers on my porches.

I have flowers in my landscaping.

I have flowers in my garden.

I have annuals (one year).

I have perennials (come back every year – Yea!).

There can never be too many flowers.

My container garden situation all started because DH didn’t want to have to mow, edge, and weed-eat around a bunch of landscaping flowers.  If he had it his way we would have grass and a house.  Nothing else.  No bushes.  No shrubs.  No flowers.  No trees.  Nothing but grass and house.

I compromised and began buying hoarding pots.  I bought pots anywhere and everywhere I could find them on clearance.  Yard sales, clearance racks, flea markets.  If it was a giant pot and it was cheap, it was mine.

The pot collecting has been going on for ????? , well, as long as I can remember, and hasn’t really stopped.  For some reason, I never have enough pots or enough flowers.  There’s always room for one more.  It’s a problem.  I have 2 problems:  coffee and flowers.  Those are my problems.

When it comes to container gardening – giant is key.  Do not waste your money on small $2 pots.  They look cute in the store, they seem like a bargain.  They won’t work.  At least, not in Kentucky if your husband won’t allow trees around the house.  Any plants trying to survive in those tiny, little, cute pots will be dehydrated in a week.  No amount of water will save them from the scorching sun. It’s not pretty.

I have about 15 tiny pots living in my garage right now.  I don’t even plant in them because it’s a waste of time and money.

Large – If you don’t have shade, you’ll need large pots.

Don’t worry about the color or design on the pots – once the flowers get going no one is going to notice the pot anyhow.  If it’s big and cheap – buy it!

Now that you have some giant pots, let’s make them explode with color!

If money was no object, my life would be dripping in Wave Petunias.

But, money is an issue.  Flowers can get expensive.  So, we’re going to be creative.

I’m gonna tell you how to fill your pots with gloriousness on a budget.
flower 7

First we need some flowers.  You have 3 choices:

  1. Go to the big box home improvement store or the nearest nursery and spend your children’s college fund on flowers. This will be painful on your wallet.  It will be equally painful when you get half of your pots planted and realize you need twice as many flowers.
  2. Go to the big box home improvement store or the nearest nursery and buy all your flowers off the clearance rack.  This is better than the first choice, and I have obtained some wonderful deals and beautiful flowers on the clearance rack.  A couple of years ago I found an entire table of Daylillies on sale for $3 per plant.  They were the nice big ones that normally sell for about $10 a plant.  I asked why the sale & the owner told me that the employee who planted/potted them didn’t label them.  No one knew the variety or color of the Lilly’s – so they were $3.  I bought them all.
  3. Find the flower source.  This is by far the best way to go (I think).  If you can find the flower source you will be able to buy every flower, plant, vine, and basket you have ever dreamed of owning and have money left over for groceries.

How to get to the Source:  

You want to locate the folks with the green-house that started the seeds in the baskets in February.  This is where the deals are.  Not the green-house that has a store front and sells their baskets for $24 each.  You want the people with the green-house who sell to the store-fronts.

Finding these elusive people can take some investigating.  Talk to friends, neighbors, country stores, farmers, and see if you can find the flower source.  All the cute little farmers markets, roadside markets and local nursery’s are getting their gorgeous $20+ hanging baskets somewhere.  I have found (around here) most of them do not grow their own baskets.  They have a source.  It’s usually a group of folks living deep in the county without phones, cars or electricity.

Once you figure out where the flowers are coming from pack up the kids, fill the tank, put some lunch in a cooler and take a road trip.  Trust me……. There will be no where to eat, get gas, or ask for directions where you are going.  You also may want to pack your 38 Special.

You will not believe what a 10″ basket of Super-tunias costs at the source……..  Let’s just say there’s quite a mark-up in the flower business and if you find the source, $100 will buy more flowers than you have space for.

flower 5

As long as you like the flowers and the colors, that’s all that matters.  Play around with some different colors and see what you prefer.
flower

I have found that I like a little less coordination and a little more unexpected variety when it comes to flowers.

flowers pretty

Filling the pots.

Start with some good compost.  The success of your pots, like everything else, comes down to the quality of your soil.  I don’t have a green thumb.  I have 3 cows.

flower dirt

After adding some excellent soil (manure in this case) the pots are ready for some flowers.

A great pot has 3 components:

  1. Flowers
  2. vines
  3. height.

This translates into

  1. something colorful
  2. something trailing out of the pots  and
  3. something tall.
  • Flowers. I like to buy hanging baskets & transplant them into pots (I find this less expensive than buying individual plants).  Take the entire arrangement (including the roots and dirt) out of the hanging basket divide it gently in half & plant each half on a side of the pot.  Hanging baskets usually include wonderful full flowers that will fill, drape and flow out of the pots.  flower pretty 2
  • Vines.  Now you want to add some vines.  Sweet Potato vines are absolutely divine.  They trail, vine and grow like mad.  They are easy to grow and hard to kill and do wonderful things to pots.  I also use ivy (especially if it’s on sale).  I usually plant 2 vines in a large container on opposite sides.
  • Height.  Whether your pot is large or small, you are going to need something tall in the center of the pot.  Here’s why:
    • No matter what I do, by September my petunias and other wonderful flowing flowers are brown, sparse and leafless near the soil.  The first 10 inches of the plants are bald and horrible looking.  From the 10 inch point and for the next 3 feet they are georgeous.  Planting something tall and full in the middle of the pot will hide all of this ugliness in September – only you will know how terrible the petunias are looking!
    • Wow factor.  Having some height in the center of your pots will give it a focal point.  It will take an average pot of flowers and vines and really knock it out of the park.  It takes the ordinary pot and makes it look like you hired a decorator.

flower 3

In the center of this pot I added 2 plants.  The first is the spikey grass (I’m pretty sure that’s it’s name – Ahem) for height, and some fluffy, green plant (I told you I’m not a flower expert) along side it.  Mr. Spike is there to give height, Mr. Fluff is going to hide all the ugly, brown, dead-looking vines in September.  flowers 2

When you first get your pots filled, don’t be worried if they look a little naked.  The flowers will grow, trail, drape and fill out.  It is good if there is some room for them to grow.

flower 4

My pots always look like this in May.  By August, the plants have left the porch and are heading to the swing in the back yard.  Just hang in there!  

flower before after

Whether you just want to add a couple of pots to your front porch, or want to create a container-garden oasis – you can’t lose.  Flowers bring life, color and charm to any outdoor space.

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Happy planting!

  • Candi

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