Choosing a Container
Go on a hunting expedition for wheelbarrows or other whimsical items that can be used for planting flowers in your garden . Look in your garage, attic or your local thrift store. Even the weirdest containers can be turned into decorative planting containers.
Consider old bathtubs, coffee pots, buckets, livestock feeding or watering troughs, old wash tubs, whiskey barrels, garbage cans, sinks, work boots, little red wagons, watering cans, old rowboats, cookie jars or even toilets. Sometimes the older and more beat up the container is, the more charming it will be. Don’t worry if the wheelbarrow has lost its wheels or if the wash tub is dented. As long as the container will hold potting soil, it can probably be planted with flowers.
When choosing your whimsical planting container, keep in mind that potting soil in small containers will dry out rapidly. Darkly-colored containers will also retain heat and dry out quickly.
Any container you choose must have drainage holes in the bottom or lower sides. Without drainage, there’s a good chance that your hard work will be wasted, as planting flowers in soil with no drainage invites root rot.
Wooden containers are a questionable choice, as wet wood won’t last long. However, if you have your heart set on that old apple box or packing crate, a couple of coats of waterproof sealer inside and out will help to preserve the wood.
What to Plant?
Annual flowers are perfect for wheelbarrows and other whimsical containers, but perennial flowers that will last for more than one year will also work well in containers.
Purchase bedding plants at your local garden center. Plants that are compact and not yet blooming are the best choice. Consider the size of your container, which should be about two-thirds the width and height of the expected size of the plant at maturity. While large containers like bathtubs or wheelbarrows can hold a variety of plants, a work boot will look charming planted with a dwarf marigold, a trailing lobelia or a small sedum plant.
Be sure to select plants with similar needs. Shade-loving plants won’t be happy in the same container with sun-lovingmarigolds.
Planting Your Whimsical Container
Once you’ve settled on a container, fill the container up to an inch of the top with lightweight potting soil. A commercial potting soil is appropriate, but avoid planting in garden soil, which will be too heavy and can contain weeds and bacteria.
Plant the flowers in the potting soil with the tallest plants in the center of the container and any trailing plants around the outer edges.
Caring for Your Whimsical Container
Water the flowers immediately. Place the container where the plants will get the correct amount of sunshine. Although most plants require six to eight hours of sunlight, some flowers, such as begonias, pansy, alyssum or impatiens, prefer shade, especially during hot afternoons.
Fertilize the plants regularly, as plants in containers are unable to draw nutrients from the soil. Apply fertilizer weekly, using a liquid fertilizer that has been diluted to one-quarter strength. If you don’t want to fertilize every week, use a slow-release fertilizer that can be applied once every two or three months.
Deadhead the flowers as soon as they wilt by pinching off the bloom, along with the stem down to the next bud, stem or leaf. Deadheading will ensure that your flowers will keep blooming as long as possible, and will keep the flowers neat and tidy.