Friday, April 30, 2010

Inspiration Avenue Blog Party

Use What You Have! 
My "lesson" today is how to create some lovely potted containers
using what you may already have on hand.  You can
plant in almost anything that will hold dirt!
You may already have the plants in your backyard!
These are some containers I have had around for awhile.
The tin bucket was a hideous shade of green;
I just rubbed some white acrylic paint all over,
and I think it helps the raised design to stand out.
It looks a bit like galvanized tin in the photo, but actually looks
more white in real life. I may go back and "whiten" it up a little more.
The ceramic soup tureen is something I never use,
and it was el cheapo in the first place,
so I don't mind filling it with dirt!

I had an idea for the soup tureen
and it involved some plants I didn't have to buy at the nursery!
At the back of the yard there are some lilies of the valley
that rarely get seen because they are so out-of-the-way.
They are also rather invasive and keep spreading year after year.
So I didn't mind digging some up.
If you have plants around like that,
they can be very happy residing in a pot!

These are so sweet looking with their tiny white bells,
it's a shame not to have them front and center while they are blooming.
The blooms won't last long, so I'll replace them
with something else after they fade.
Ooh, time to clean up around here!

Try to get as much of the roots as you can.

All parts of lily of the valley are poisonous, 
so if you use them wash your hands well!
Better yet, wear gloves AND wash your hands! 

There's no drainage hole in the bottom of this container,
so I added some broken crockery to keep
the roots from getting soggy.

Add some potting soil (I like Miracle Gro, even though it's a little pricey;
my plants love it best) and tuck the little plants in snugly.

 To finish it off, I added a little moss on top.
It covers the soil, and helps keep the plants from drying out.

It comes all dried out in a bag.
Just soak it in water to get it nice and soggy,
then it's ready to use.

The only thing I had to buy for this was the moss.
I had some potting soil left over from last year
and the plants and container were free!

I used the rest of the bag of moss to line a wire basket .
This was taken from above, so it looks like the basket is filled,
but the moss is just lining the edges.
Just snug it up against the bottom and sides,
and the soil and plants will eventually hold it in place.

I put two of these 4" Calibrachoa
(sometimes called Million Bells) in the basket.
They look like tiny petunias, but are much less fussy.

These have the enticing name, "Caribbean Cocktail"! Yum!
They will grow like crazy and will eventually fill the space
and trail over the sides when they get going.

These are not root-bound at all, but if you have plants that have
roots just winding round and round inside the pot
and coming out the bottom, just gently pull the roots apart
to separate them somewhat so they will grow outward
and not stay cramped in a tight ball. If you have to,
it's better to just make some vertical cuts with a sharp knife
or pruners than to leave the roots  tangled up like that.

I added some ivy from the yard around the edges.
I wish I could have planted these 2 or 3 weeks ago
so you could see how they will fill out,
but  it was too early to buy them at the nursery.
I'll post another pic in a few weeks!

Other than what I've shown here,  you might try  baskets
or wooden boxes (line both with plastic first).
Decorate empty coffee cans or plant violets in teacups!
Tiny succulent plants look adorable in teacups also.

I have wood planter boxes on my front porch
which need to be lined with plastic.
I found some biodegradable plastic (sold in the paint
department at Lowes for dropcloths) and used it last year.
Didn't feel so bad throwing it away at the end of the summer
since (I assume) it won't hang around in the landfill til the end of time.

Well, this is getting longer than War and Peace,
but here are some pictures of the other containers I used.

This has 3 red Verbenas, some white Alyssum,
and some English Thyme.
(The thyme smells so good, I wanted to
snip some off and go cook something)
Again, this will be so pretty once it starts to grow.

This one is the only real "flower pot".
It's one of the lightweight fake terra cotta ones .
Really doesn't look bad; I left it outside all winter
(and oh what a winter it was). No sign of falling apart ,
and so easy to move even when it's full of soil.
It's at least 3 years old; don't even remember when I got it.

I used just one dwarf pink Dianthus
with white Alyssum all around.
When you place annuals in a container,
it doesn't hurt to crowd them a bit.
The directions may say place 12" apart
but I put them much closer to make the container nice and full.
If you use good soil, and feed them every few weeks
(which I forget to do mostly)
they don't mind being a bit crowded.

I think more important than anything is to make sure
not to let potted plants dry out in hot weather.
Containers (especially terra cotta) dry out quite quickly.
During a hot spell, you may have to water every day.
During a super super hot spell, twice a day!

Wow, I can run on when it comes to plants!
If you made it this far, thanks for reading,
and do visit Inspiration Avenue this weekend to
check the list of all the party participants
who have some wonderful tutorials on their blogs!

Go create a work of art with plants!


  1. Sweet I feel my green thumb trying to come out. Love all that you did with containers I just got all mine out the other day because my hubby always gets me flowers for mothers day.

  2. Lovely containers and plants! I love the dianthus... it's one of my favorites. Also love the combination of annual flowers and trailing herbs... Coleus also do well in containers and the foliage is str

  3. Ooh Maggie these are beautiful! I'm not especially green-fingered but it's lovely and sunny here today and you may just have motivated me to search out some containers and have a go!
    And I LOVE the idea of violets in a teacup - that's just so fab!

  4. HOw strange - I dreamt about growing potted plants last night! This is a beautifully summery post Maggie. Thanks :)

  5. I am not a gardener but I think I could manage some of these. I didn't realize that liles of the valley are poisonous. Are they poisonous to animals?


  6. I love this "lesson". And I adore the idea of using what you have ... it's so earth-friendly! Your planters turned out so pretty!

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Yum! Flower pots are my favorite thing! I LOVE in the NW it's risky to plant before Mother's Day, so I always use that as my guide....soon, though!

    Warm blessings,

  8. Thanks everyone! I hope you'll try potting something lovely in found containers!

    Dianne ~ dianthus is "your" flower!

    Lisa ~ hmmm, that IS odd!

    KatsuiJewelry ~ I was wondering about the danger to animals also because I was thinking of bringing the lilies of the valley into the house. I don't really know, but with 2 cats who love to nibble on greenery, I think I'll leave it outside.

    Bellamere Cottage ~ this is the earliest I've EVER planted. Partially because of the blog party, and partly because we have had the warmest, earliest spring I can remember!

  9. Thanks, your use of containers is great, love the soup tureen and I learned that lily of the valley spread, I never knew that.

  10. Just goes to show you that art can be created anywhere. I especially love the idea of making use of things you have- re-purposing! Thanks for sharing!

  11. What a lovely tutorial. I love your potted flowers. They always brighten up a space. I love the soup tureen being used in a non traditional way. Very clever my dear.

  12. This post is BEAUTIFUL! The pictures, your humor, using what you have, the plant names...all of it is appealing and fun! I would love to see your house all gussied up...
    My neighbor has a pair of old work boots planted with chickens and hens and it looks sweet...maybe you want to copy her :D

  13. This was great and I could have actually used it a few weeks ago. My neighbor gave me a wire basket like the blue one you used and the Spanish moss would have been fabulous! Love the ivy idea too, maybe it's not too late to add some.
    Thanks so much!

  14. So pretty! I can imagine having a lot of potted plants in my garden and yes making it a work of ART! :^) patsy

  15. Beautiful! Thank for the great gardening ideas; now I want to implement some of these gorgeous techniques into my organic-heirloom vegetable gardening...I love the hanging flower pot idea; very classic and simple. Thanks Maggie!

  16. Oh Maggie, I could have read on and on, but then, I'm a garden junkie too ;) What gorgeous container ideas! I alos love finding cracked or partially broken pots and burying them in the ground to create a "waterfall" of flowers!
    BTW, I *wish* my Lily of the Valley were invasive; I've been trying to grow a stand for a couple of years now, but try as they might, they just won't do much for me! Any recommendations on placement, light, etc.?

  17. Steph, I know they like a kind of partial shade situation. They are a woodland plant and probably like a dappled light.

    I wonder if they might prefer a cold winter. I know some plants need that dormant period. Now I'm curious ~ I'll have to go look it up!

  18. Oh Maggie, I LOVE this post! I am a huge garden-lover with, tragically, no real talent for cultivating one. So I swoon when I see talented gardener's little paradises. Thanks so much for sharing. So can I come over and just stroll through your little eden? ;-)

  19. Priti Lisa, come and visit anytime! It's not out of the realm of possibility, you're not that far away! But I have to warn you, I only photograph the small portions that are presentable! lol. Luckily, everything always looks better in the summer.

    I have a neighbor who puts plants in her children's outgrown shoes. It looks really cute!

  20. Chris, I posted my invitation to Lisa just as you were posting! Come on up! You are the one that lives in a paradise though. All that lovely warm weather and everything grows all the time! Right now almost everything still has that winter-weary look here. So come in the summer when things are really green!

  21. It was pure delight!!!!!!! I love things like this AND your yard looks so inviting! I love flowers!!!

  22. You have given me some great ideas for potting plants. I was once told that if it stood still, I would use it as a planter, but I sure never knew about those Lily of the Valley. Must try repotting some, AND wearing gloves. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial from Inspiration Avenue Blog Party

  23. Maggie, thank you reminding us we can use anything that holds dirt as a planter. I will be trying to do that this year, since there's always something in the garage to use. Love the beautiful pictures in your tutorial.

  24. These ideas are all so wonderful. It must be nice living in an area that does not get really, really hot like here in SA. I would have to water these containers twice a day and keep them under the shade. Our summers are so harsh. Those pretties would shrivel up and croak in no :)
    You have so many great tips. I love gardening too.
    Hope you had a great weekend.

  25. Thanks for getting back to me and for your sweet comments on my blog! Your tutorial is perfect for Spring :)

    Sandy xox

  26. A very enjoyable gardeners Diary Maggie. I love all the pots you have used especially the turrine and the wall planter, gorgeous flowers too.

  27. Thank you everyone! Your comments are a joy!!

  28. You are brilliant! I never thought about using crockery in the bottom to keep roots from getting soggy...

  29. are so super awesome!! Fabulous creativity and your blooms are gorgeous!! Wonderful post!


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