Column by Susie Skaggs, Garfield County Master Gardener
Planting a container/pot garden has no limits. It doesn’t matter if you have a large garden, small yard, or a windowsill, there is a plant container/pot for every space. I had fun creating special “garden rooms” with my garden pots this past spring and summer. The Covid-19 shutdown allowed me time to watch gardening programs that encouraged planting in pots. In many instances, one can control what you plant, color schemes you want, plantings by plants, plantings by seeds, be it flowers or vegetables, trees, really the possibilities are endless. Planting in pots is a teaching tool about nature and gardening for children. They can use their imagination, improve their skills in math, art, and reading. Containers and pots can be used by anyone with a disability or other medical issues. One can keep any height and in a small area that is easy attainable.
What I found fun was learning I can use any kind of pot I want. I used clay, ceramic, plastic, cracked pots, fancy decorated ones, tall pots, short and round ones, a washtub my Dad used for planting and I used for my red, white, and blue petunias. My watering cans that were rusty on the bottom were used for kitchen herbs along with my first metal coffee pot used on the stove back in my teens. I did puncture holes in the bottom for drainage. I encourage you to check out various yard sales, auctions, junk shops, and even trash piles on the side of the road. Create your own plan and enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try what you like and if it isn’t working, dig up, repot, take and keep notes on what works and what doesn’t, and try again. This is one of the lessons I learned during Garfield County Master Gardeners class.
There are plants that can be planted in containers for spring, summer, fall, and winter. What you plant depends on what can withstand our Oklahoma heat, strong winds, and sudden fluxes in temperature. I kept my container garden very simple. Leading up to my pool area are concrete stairs. I wanted it to be fun, colorful, tropical, to make it inviting. It is an area easy to water. So no dragging a water hose around in the heat. I do encourage you to take a picture of your plantings. I did not. This is what I planted using plants that could take the heat most of the day and as the sun settled in the west the plants and flowers had some reprieve from the
sun: Elephant ears, lemongrass, citronella, hot pink Ice plant, Ipomea Margarita Sweet Potato vine, Color Blaze Torchlight, and Rediculous, coleus, herbs of Rosemary, Chives, and for color and scent, more red, white, and purple petunias, blue Mexican heather, various colors of Vincas and various succulents. For this year, my plan worked and it kept me plenty busy. For fall and winter, I planted pansies. Bulbs of any type can be planted.
Here are some additional tips for container gardening:
• Use potting mix with moisture.
• If you are going to cover drainage holes, use broken crock shards, gravel, or old window screen. There is debate about covering drainage holes. Ultimate goal: you want good drainage.
• To conserve on potting mix, fill large pots with plastic bottles, plastic packing material, then potting mix.
• Unpot plants by turning upside down and tap out of the plastic container and gently loosen roots with your fingers or if roots are larger, take a knife to make shallow vertical slices through the root ball in two or three places.
• Depending on the size of the plant, plant large plants 1-3” below the rim of the pot.
• Water well when you are finished planting. You may have to add more potting mix and water again.
• Fertilize from time to time. Pots do require more watering and the nutrients are depleted.
• One last fun tip. If planting seeds for flowers, for example, and they are all pink, you might forget what you planted. Paint the rim of your pot the color of the flower.
What is shared in this article is a small part of container gardening. I still have so much to learn. Visit and research websites that offer information on container gardening. One of the best resource websites is the Oklahoma State University Extension. (osufacts.okstate.edu). You will find fact sheets on just about anything you want to plant and grow. You can also call Garfield County Enid Extension for guidance!
My wish is to encourage you to make your own plan, find your own special garden room retreat, and enjoy your time with nature and what it has to offer in any season!