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Container Fascination

White Rocker with BegoniaIt starts without you thinking about it at all. You bring home a couple of plants from the nursery. They are already in plastic pots and you leave them in the plastic. You set them on the deck or on the patio and forget them.

You may read that the plant would do better in a clay pot with a tray under it to catch the runoff water. When the winter causes you to bring the plants indoors, you put the clay pot in the living room. You realize that it might present better in a glazed pot with a nicer tray.

Mulit plant containerWithout realizing it, you have taken the first steps on the road to container fascination.

Container fascination lies beyond the boundaries of function. Appropriate soil, moisture, and sunlight must maintain the plant. Shapes and sizes differ for dish gardens, cactus, water-loving plants, deep-rooted plants, top heavy plants, trees, and hanging plants.

Container fascination also lies beyond the boundaries of appearance, presentation, or design. A container can present a plant as a furnishing or as part of a decoration theme. More likely, it can simply be unpretentious, letting the plant display itself.

Palm Tree TrunkPerhaps somebody gives you a pot that is too big to move or too big for any plant you might have. You plant a few plants that do not normally go together but that can get along with each other. You use a container to make a unique colorful statement on an otherwise drab deck. You are on your way.

Notice the small space above the dead fronds on a palm tree. If you think you can put some dirt in there and plant something, you are on your way.

Wood is an ideal temporary container. Drill a hole and hollow it out to provide a space for dirt or a place for a small pot. A "find" twenty years ago, this large piece of driftwood has been in a moving van more times than I care to remember. A final home provided sedum an anchor in this backyard.

Sedum in Driftwood









Lava Rock


Rock is an even better container. When no natural hollow presented, we drilled holes in this lava rock. When you begin bringing rocks in for the winter or moving them across state lines, you are beyond fascination and into obsession.

When planting in rock or wood, do it with knowledge of the drainage required for the plant. Rock drains poorly. Wood drains better, but it will eventually rot.





Hanging Basket3 tier basket

If one hanging basket is good, then three must be better. Wire baskets lined with cocoa liner, or Spanish moss, or even newspaper can make a great hanging basket. Go one step further and use a triple hanger.








Have you thrown out the cracked birdbath that will not hold water anymore? Any container that will not hold water will provide good drainage for plants. Birdbaths are an excellent home for hanging or trailing plants with enough horizontal depth to provide room for displaying larger plants in the center.






Rocking Chair

Old chairs: kitchen chairs, outdoor furniture, or rocking chairs provide a variety of container possibilities. They do not need to be stable. Merely use the dirt in the garden or some prop to keep them upright. Then simply set the pot on the seat or hang a semi-circular planter from the back of the chair.

If the seat of the chair is gone, that is even better. It is easy to set a platform (perhaps an upside down pot) on the ground under the seat and then set the potted plant on top of it. The plant will appear to be sitting on the chair.


Use one-inch square wire or chicken wire and fashion it into a seat with about a two-inch depth. Attach it to a wooden chair with staples or to a metal chair with wire. Then, set a pot on the seat or put dirt in it and plant directly in the chair. If you used one-inch wire, you will not even need a liner.

Baby Carriage


Your fascination with containers may be over the edge when you begin using your good antiques. Old furniture, desks, phonographs, milk cans, tractors, cars, plows, beds, or baby cradles all make excellent containers for plants. Let your imagination guide you. Here we put potted plants on a tray in a baby carriage for a winter indoor display.

When you move the plant outside for the summer and you look at the empty baby carriage and wonder why you have it, you have gone over the edge into container fascination.