Styrofoam pots for plants

Flowers have always been a part of our live, whether we just like to receive them or having them in our homes. What do you do when your plant need more space to grow or simply what do you do when normal planters aren’t enough for your specific needs? My suggestion would be to make your own planters or why not recycle some other planter you may have and use them. If you think that making your own planter is rocket science you can’t be more wrong.

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Let’s take a look at time interesting planters and projects, and then we’ll comment about what we liked and what not.


1.Yogurt Containers: Easy DIY Planters.

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Is we are at the DIY category we should say from the start that this is about making things cheap but original, to suit our needs and practice our skills a little bit. This project involves making small planters from yogurt containers. This is probably the easiest project ever, because involves a simple plastic food container which is thrown away as soon as is empty. To make it look special, spray paint it or apply models on it and let it dry, then simply plant your herbs. When I was a kid, my mom and I made lots of planters like this one.{found on ivillage}.

2.DIY book planters.

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This project simply amazed me when I first looked it. The idea is very original and I must confess that I would never thought of such a thing. These homemade book planters look wonderful and if you want to make some of your own this is what you’ll have to do. Find some old books and cut a hole in which you will later fit a plastic sheet to prevent any water and dirt to deteriorate the rest of the book. After that , take out the plants from their original planter and place them into the book. Trim the extra plastic and clean the newly created planter. This is the perfect artistic extension: taking something beautiful and turning it into something else beautiful.{found on apartmenttherapy}.

3.Planter from a wooden crate.

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Making a planter from a wooden crate is both simple and very good looking and of course original. Due to their generous size these planters can manage a lot more than a simple plant. You can use them to transform your patio in a salad garden or to plant some fresh herbs or spices for your cooking. Nature takes care of most of the hard work so the only things you’ll need to do is to fill the planters with some fertile soil, make sure that the water can drain and then when the plants will grow you can be proud if your work as well as having a fresh spot of vegetation on your balcony or patio.{found on diggingfood}.

4.DIY Modern cement planters.

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Wow, cement planters are so cool and very original with a fresh handmade feel. These can be made by anyone and the result is simple, stylish and downright lovable. The mixture is one part cement and four parts sand. To give them the right shape you can look for old food containers with unusual forms, after filling the content of a larger bowl with the cement mix, place a smaller pot, an ice cream cup would be perfect, flip it and let is try for a couple of days. After that drill some holes for drainage, sand the edges smooth and plant a succulent.{from sofie}.

5.Another cement planters.

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Since we’ve mentioned cement planters earlier I propose to see another cool project with basically the same ingredients. This though has a slightly different technique, using straws for the planter’s drainage holes and some colored cement powder. The result is a little more modern with a refined feel. Still, the decorative impact is the same and can be used anywhere to animate a dull space. I particularly like how the planter and the plant gives a very chic splash of color in a white tilled bathroom, like in this picture.{found on centsationalgirl}.

6.Pram planter.

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Wow, this is unique indeed. A pram planter? Who would’ve thought? The uniqueness of this planter is given by the diversity of the two elements combined and how unrelated they are. A pram is meant to transport babies not to hold plant in it. Anyway, this is a success, because of the pram’s vintage feel and the green shades of paint that make the transition to the actual plants, not to forget that this thing has wheels and can be transported around the house where it can become part of the setting.{found on flickr}.

7.Recycled upside down planters.

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Can planters can be a very cool and cheap idea to decorate your house, but upside down can planters? I personally never imagined plants growing upside down but today I found not only that this is possible but looks pretty good as well. To do a project on your own the perfect candidate would be a coffee can with a plastic lid. After drilling the drainage holes flip the can and fill it with some soil and add your plant.

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The tricky part comes now: to prevent the soil from spilling, therefore the plant, trace the bottom of the can on a coffee filter or landscape fabric and cut out the circle, which should be the diameter of your plant’s main stem. Also cut a hole in the plastic lid, put it on and flip the planter. Now, you have a cool recycled upside down planter to decorate your home.{found on designsponge}.

8.Mason jar planter.

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Inspired by the Spice Rack these planters placement assure a very interesting decorative element as well as utility. In these jar planters you won’t find any flowers, but fresh spices and herbs for a natural cooking. Clear your kitchen counter and keep your herbs, fresh in the air.What a great idea, I must put it into practice someday.{found on housewife}.

9.Pallet garden.

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If you have a small space on your terrace and you’re almost out of space to put pots, it’s time to think vertically. This unusual planter focuses on growing the plants density on your terrace without taking a lot of space. With a simple pallet found near a dumpster or behind a local store you can do it yourself. Prepare the pallet by repairing it and add some landscape fabric to the back. The plants should be special cascading plants so the entire ensemble would definitely look good and healthy. This is a perfect way to enjoy spring on a balcony.{found on lifeonbalcony}.

10.Coffee bag planter pots.

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If you are not a big fan of the traditional planters you can try to make your own. For this you will need ideas. A very interesting one suggests that you do a coffee bag planter. It does the same job but it looks completely different. Coffee bag pots are fantastic for many reasons. They are made from recycled materials, weather resistant but biodegradable as well. Probably the best feature, though, is that you can make them yourself in less than half an hour. The result looks extraordinary in any corner, giving your décor a natural feel as well as an original touch.{found on apartmenttherapy}.

11.Paint planters.

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If you have artistic skills you can choose to make your own planters with very beautiful graphics on them. Old paint cans are most handy when it comes to planters and you can use their smooth side either to paint something as like in this case you can glue some vivid colored fabric.{found on designsponge}.

12.Chalkboard pain pots.

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If you don’t really want to change your old ceramic planters and still you need to change something about them, this is going to be just the thing for you. With some chalkboard paint and some crazy templates you can revive your old planters. On the new surface created you can simply write the plant’s name, or have some fun with funny drawings.{found on designsponge}.

13.DIY water trough planter.

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A water trough planter hasn’t been attempted before. Probably because these items are considerably more expensive than a normal planter of roughly the same size and because these things were designed to hold water, therefore, to make a planter you would have to puncture holes in them.{found on apartmenttherapy}.

14.Brick succulent planters.

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Another thing that I thought it was never possible is represented by these brick planters. These natural and durable building materials provide a very cool contrast to elegant succulent plants. Used bricks work even better because they have a bit of personality and history behind them, and not to forget the costs (if they are used, they are probably thrown away, so they are free) . The tricky part is to drill the holes, it not very difficult but you’ll have to be very patient, because any shock could shatter the brick. The candle holder is optional, you can choose to do it, but it will only score points at style.{found on readymade}.

15.DIY Chevron-Patterned Reclaimed Wood Planter Box.

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The idea of using an old wooden box as a planter is not new, but it continues to amaze every single time. This particular wooden box planter houses an avocado tree. The interesting fact about this planter is that the planter’s sides are made from reclaimed wood in a very playful chevron pattern. This delightful planter is a very good candidate for a garden project, now with the spring at its best. You should get started!{found on zelophotoblog}.

16.DIY drip planters.

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DIY drip planters are a very good idea if you are a free spirit who loves color. Spilling paint when painting your walls is bad, but spilling paint intentionally over some traditional planters is actually a very cool idea. I don’t know how this idea was born but the result is fantastic. The colored recipients have a certain filthy look and that is why a certain period of time comes to my mind, when things were done careless, because people were busy making love instead of war, if you catch my drift.{found on ikea}.

17.Make Your Own DIY Floppy Disk Planters.

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For the computer fans here’s a unique way to make a planter. For those who are old enough to know what a floppy disk is, this can be indeed a very cool idea. These kind of storing information hasn’t been used in a long time, so if you have them, they are most probably useless. {found on instructables}.

18.Recycled Paint Can Planters.

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Recycling is important nowadays not because is a trend and everyone doing it is cool but because our planet has less and less resources and it is our job to be sure that our grandkids will see this planet as we see it now. Old paint cans are very often used as planters for various reasons.{found on Centsational}.

19.Springy Painted Mason Jar Planters.

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Mason jars are great. People have been using them for a very wide range of things. Among them, you can find Mason jar planters in various shapes and as we can see here, colors. These jars are very resistant; therefore they don’t have a problem holding some dirt and a small plant. Due to their volume only small and medium plants can be putted because their roots don’t need too much space. To spice a little bit their appearance you can spray paint them in any color you like, and if you use more of these jars you can make very nice decorative color combinations.{found on csi}.

20.Tea cup succulent garden.

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Tea cup planters are a first for me. I haven’t heard so far about people putting plants in tea cups. Maybe because they are relatively small and can hold a small amount of gravel, but when I saw these planters I have changed my mind. Tea cups are in general very good looking and depending on the brand details and graphics can play a very important role in the design. If you want to have small plants that will fit perfectly on your window sill this can actually be a very good idea. The cup design along with some decorative gravel and the natural colors of the plant can really change the face of your dull window sills.{found on epherielldesigns}.

21.Diy shower curtain planter.

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Speaking of crazy ideas for making planters; in these pictures you can see how a shower curtain planter looks like. Yes, you’ve heard me, shower curtain planters. The idea is pretty simple, it’s just like making a bag but instead of taking the fabric pieces then sew them together you will use the waterproof material for a shower curtain and glue everything in place according to you desired sizes. The material is very strong and should hold a fair amount of dirt along with your desired plant. If you are lucky enough to have around your household a bright colored shower curtain or one with an intricate pattern your planters will definitely rock.{found on readymade}.

22.Bright DIY Planters.

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We talked a lot lately about unusual planter and original designs, but traditional planters are still charming and many of us prefer those instead of paint cans or plastic food recipients. Traditional doesn’t really mean old, by the contrary; this thing means that the quality standards have remained unchanged for a long period of time. To add a modern touch to those wonderful ceramic planters you can use some acrylic paints and just draw some lines or color the margins with some bright, vivid colors. This will definitely make your windowsill more playful.{found on onmyhonoriwilltry}.

23.Outdoor wood planters on casters.

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I don’t know how many of you have a courtyard or big terraces, but those of you who are lucky to have such outdoor spaces here’s an idea for you. Why not make good old wood planters? You can choose the desired dimension, making sure that you have plenty of space to add as many plants as you like, as well as making combinations of plants, colors and arrangements. {found on 221vision}.

24.DIY Outdoor Hanging Planter Of A Tyre.

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I remember seeing this kind of planter on a scrap yard a few years ago. That was probably an accident, because there were tires all over the place and somehow some plants grew in a couple of them, but to see this as an intentionally thing, it is something. You probably saw planters made out of tires but stacked one on each other, like a small dumpster, painted in white and red from which a big bushy flower appeared.{found on alternativeapparel}.

25.Tiered outdoor planters.

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Another cool idea to diversify your planter’s arrangement or to make new floral arrangements using traditional ceramic planters is this one. Take a look at how wonderful those three planters look stacked like that. To make a similar arrangement on your own all you have to do is take one large, one medium and one small pots and nestle them within one another in a way to create a planter that is as impressive as it is cost-effective. If you really want it to look amazing, paint the planters in different bright colors so it would pop put wonderfully on your terrace.{found on Positively Splendid}.

26. Tree stump planters.

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I like how nature gives us ideas how not to lose everything but to transform it. This is the case of those wonderful stump tree planters. These are pretty high, and not particularly on my taste. If the logs would have 10 inches or so in height and a darker color would be perfect, but these one work as well. This type of planter works great with some climbing plants, and it they are placed somewhere under a fence or under a nice traditional façade the effect would be tremendous good looking.{found on thecraftytulip}.

27.Planters made from old tyres.

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Wow, this is truly amazing. We’ve seen before planters made out from tires but not like these ones. The wonderful design is possible thanks to the individual pattern of the tires. As you can imagine bits of old tires were recycled and reused to make very cool and unique planters. I love the technique and how well they managed to expose the tire’s original form and still transform it in a very cool design feature. Different tire sizes , different size planters.

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These objects are extremely durable and flexible so dropping them shouldn’t be a problem, not the mention that the incredible curvature of the tire gives a nice shape to the planter. For the bigger and heavy planters, handles from the same materials can be attached as well, making them easier to transport or move around.{found on UBeauty pots and plants}.

28.Rain boots garden.

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Cool ideas can never stop pouring on profile sites, because people are different and see things differently. Now, we talked about planters for the few past minutes and still haven’t run out of ideas how to make an original planter. These pares of rubber boots make wonderful planters. Hanged by the fence, these colored boots look great filled with dirt and spring flowers on top. It’s all about imagination.{found on rosinahuber}.

29.DIY Shadow Boxes On A Fence.

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More suited for small urban gardens are flower arrangements that focuses on verticality, because space is scarcely among skyscrapers. These shadow boxes can be easily made from some scrap wood and hanged on the fence. Inside you can put all kinds of planters with the condition to fit the box’s height and width. Similar to shelves these things can be as many as you like sheltering from bad weather your beloved flowers.{found on sunset}.

30.Another outdoor planter made from recycled tyres.

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As I was saying earlier this type of planter is very common on country settlements, where you have plenty of space around the house to play with. This exact white and red color palette I have seen along my journey through planter ideas (probably, because of the contrast). The advantage in this case is plenty of room, therefore suitable for big plants or even small trees or bushes, low costs in matter of materials.{found on Studio G }.

This is it! I hope you liked the ideas presented here and most of all, as I always way, I hope that this would serve you as an inspirational material for your own DIY projects.

Container-grown plants can be an addition to an already flourishing landscape or a garden all by themselves. By planting in nursery pots, buckets, whiskey barrels, grow bags, or whatever else you find around the house, you’ll be adding aesthetic interest and practicality to your yard and home.

Container gardening is useful when:

  1. You want to move plants into the house for the winter.
  2. Controlling the soil quality is desired.
  3. There isn’t much space available.
  4. You want to grow year-round herbs and vegetables (or pretty flowers).
  5. Adding height, texture and variety to the yard is important.

With the right equipment, growing fresh herbs and flavorful vegetables in containers is easy! At Planet Natural we have everything you need: pots, soils and seeds to get started, plus grow lights to bring the green-giving magic of the sun indoors. Now, let’s grow!

Choosing Plants

When selecting plants, you need to consider both what you want and what the plants need.

What You Want in a Plant

Almost anything can be grown in a container, even many trees! But, before you rush out to the nursery to buy whatever suits your fancy, take a moment to think about what you want your container garden to achieve.

– Are you looking to grow foodstuffs such as vegetables or herbs?
– Do you want to add color to a drab garden?
– Does your yard need height and texture?
– Is your growing season short and you are looking for something that can come inside?

If you are taking an aesthetic approach, look for plants that:

  • Balance and contrast each other
  • Are suited to the size of the container
  • Suit your color tastes
  • Provide a focal point

Although the container gardening field is wide open, some plants are better suited to pots than others. These include:

Beans, Bush
Onions, Green
Squash, Summer
Tomatoes, Cherry
Bachelor Button
Morning Glory
Shasta Daisy
Summer Savory
Apples (dwarf)

What a Plant Wants

After you’ve thought about what you want, consider what you can provide the plants given your environment, space and time commitment. Of course, plants need light, food, air and water, but the quality and quantity varies from plant to plant. (Read more about plant requirements here.)

Read seed packets, plant descriptions or online references and then grow plants with similar requirements together.


Find out how big your plants will be when mature and make sure your container can accommodate that. Dwarf varieties usually do well in containers since they are small by nature.


Ideal for growing indoors or out! Roots Organics® Potting Soil is a ready to use mix made from quality natural and organic ingredients. The unique recipe enables better drainage and encourages a vigorous root structure. Available in a 1.5 cu ft bag.

Potting Mix

Container plants do best in a potting mix rather than in garden soil which can compact easily. Often garden soil contains weed seeds, pests and other critters you don’t want in your containers.

Look for a mix that is light, fluffy, drains well and contains enough organic material to hold water and nutrients. You can purchase a pre-mixed potting soil or make your own.

When purchasing potting soil (not really soil at all) read the package carefully. Instead of buying something labeled “topsoil” or “compost” which could be made of just about anything, invest in high quality organic potting soil.

If you choose to make your own, find a good recipe and experiment. A classic soil-based mix is:

  • 1 part peat moss or mature compost
  • 1 part garden loam or topsoil
  • 1 part clean builder’s sand or perlite


Watering plants in containers is different than watering plants directly in the soil. Potting soil is often less dense than garden soil and thus holds less water. Additionally, the pot restricts the amount of soil to hold water. And because the pots are above ground, they don’t have all that mass around them to keep cool.

Too much or too little water will kill your plants. The idea is to keep the soil moist throughout, but not wet. Many container-grown plants need to be watered once or twice a day when it is hot.


Going on vacation? The Scheurich® Bordy is an attractive and effective automatic plant waterer. Not only a handy plant companion but this cheery little bird makes its mark as cute home decor. Simply fill with water and rest assured that your plant will be perfectly watered for up to four days.

Use a watering can or garden hose to wet the soil directly (not just the leaves!). If you still can’t tell how much water is needed, consider a digital moisture meter for an exact reading.

If you plan to be away from home for several days a drip irrigation system can keep your plants happy. Purchase one or make your own (Learn how to make your own pop bottle irrigation system here).

You can also retain water longer by adding “agro-polymers” (sold under the name Soil Moist) to the soil or potting mix before you plant.


Adding organic mulch to the top of your containers will retain moisture on warm days and add nutrients to the soil (remember that nutrients leach out each time you water and need to be replaced.)


Most plants need 7-12 hours of sunlight a day (especially herbs and vegetables with fruits). If you don’t have that, look for shade tolerating varieties like spinach and chard.

Read seed packets to determine the amount of light an individual species needs. Here’s what the packet terms mean:

Full Sun: Between 6 and 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Partial Sun: Plants require between 4 and 6 hours of sunlight a day, preferably in the morning and early afternoon.

Shade: Less than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day, with filtered sunlight during the rest of the day.

When you move your containers indoors for the winter, you may need to give them an extra sunlight-boost with plant grow lights. These specially designed lights simulate the sun and help plants thrive through the dark of winter.


Plants grow best at temperatures between 55 and 75° F. Without the insulating earth around them, the roots of container plants get hotter and colder more quickly than their in-ground counterparts.

Move containers inside before it frosts. Provide shade (consider grouping pots together to shade each other) when it gets too hot. Some folks “plant” their containers part way in the ground for insulation.

Nutrients/ Fertilizers

Nutrient solutions such as compost teas, worm teas made from worm castings, as well as liquid organic fertilizers, fish emulsion and kelp meal provide needed nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in addition to micronutrients and organic compounds.

Better than synthetic fertilizers, these organic fertilizers won’t burn your plants and supply the necessary macronutrients as well as many micronutrients, minerals, amino acids and vitamins. Most release their nutrients slowly — a good watering gets them started — giving you long-lasting, healthy results. At Planet Natural, we carry a variety of organic formulas — including guanos — designed to encourage growth, blooms and bountiful harvests.


Derived from Atlantic fish, phosphoric acid and potash, Alaska MorBloom stimulates exceptional budding and blooming on all flowering plants. Brightens colors in flowers and foliage and promotes vigorous root growth, too! Mix 1-3 Tbsp per gallon of water to encourage budding in flowers, vegetables and ornamental houseplants.

Timing is everything when fertilizing as plant nutrient needs change as the plant grows. Annual plants, for example, benefit most when fertilized with a solution high in nitrogen when they are first planted (for growth and leaf development) and then switched to a low-nitrogen, high-phosphorus solution to encourage blooming.

Since nutrients leach from the soil every time your container plants are watered, it is important to add fertilizer every week or two.


You’ll need to devote some time most days to your containers. Between watering, pruning, dead heading and harvesting your crops, container gardens need your devotion.


When it is time to put your plants in their pots, follow these simple directions.

  1. Wash your pot or container with warm, soapy water. Rinse well.
  2. Dampen the potting mix — either in the bag (if you bought it) or in the container you mixed it in.
  3. Partially fill the container with the prepared potting mix. If your container is large and/or heavy, fill it at the location where it will live. (Do not add pot shards or gravel to the bottom of the container, this will actually decrease drainage.)
  4. Gently remove the plant from its original container. If it is rootbound, loosen the roots before planting (see Salvaging Rootbound Plants).
  5. Set the plant in the new pot at the same depth as the old container and 1 to 2 inches below the rim of the pot.
  6. Add soil to the container and pack it gently around the plant.
  7. Water thoroughly with kelp extract or a compost tea to help it adjust to its new home.
  8. Add Spanish moss or mulch to the top to help retain water.

Pest Problems

Container plants often suffer less pest attacks because they live in a cleaner and more frequently inspected environment than garden or yard plants. However, that doesn’t make them immune from insects, diseases or other problems. Insects can creep into any garden and fungal spores are present in the air at all times.

A popular leaf shine and houseplant cleaner, Einstein Oil contains the finest quality, first extraction, cold-pressed neem oil. It is also enhanced with several other potent herbal ingredients to keep leaves clean and plants healthy. All ingredients are 100% non-toxic and the best available.

First off, try to avoid pests.

  • Inspect plants before purchasing them to make sure they are healthy. Then gently wash them before planting.
  • Use clean potting mix and clean containers.
  • Wash your hands and tools, too.
  • Make sure you are growing plants in the best conditions.
  • Get rid of plants that are already infested and have lost more than half of their leaves.

If, after all that, you still have a pest situation try Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

  1. Monitor for pests daily when you water. Don’t forget to look on the underside of leaves — it’s a great hideout for hungry bugs or their eggs.
  2. Figure out what pest you are dealing with. If you aren’t sure ask your local extension service. This way you can choose pest control methods specific to your problem, rather than pouring different chemicals on the plant while trying to figure out what works.
  3. Decide how much you are willing to deal with. The idea is to control the pest, not eradicate it. Can you live with the edges of a few leaves munched? How about your tomatoes chewed up?
  4. If you need to take action use safe pest control measures that are least harmful to you, your plants, and the environment.
  5. Problems with smaller pests such as spider mites, aphids or whiteflies, can be tougher to control and may spread plant diseases. To combat these pests, try products for organic pest control.

It’s a sad sight to see. And it happens every year.

Planters and containers that were once rich with color and foliage slowly fade and fail, becoming worn out and tired-looking by the time mid-summer rolls around.

And the higher the temperatures climb, the more those pretty blossoms and plump leaves shrivel and disappear.

Well, this doesn’t have to be your tale of woe this year. You can help your containers to flourish with vibrant good health all summer long just by doing one little thing differently.

Sounds good, right? It is! But first, let’s take a look at all of the steps that will help your pots and containers to put on a peacock-worthy display throughout the season this year.

Botanical Beauty for Containers

In today’s world, nurseries and garden centers have such an amazing selection of lovely, healthy plants that it’s pretty easy to create an attractive-looking container. The tough part is to keep them looking good from spring right through to autumn.

Here’s a brief review of the steps that you can take to create and maintain a brilliant display all summer long.

1. Pick the Perfect Pot

The first step for a robust planter is to choose the correct pot size. This is determined by a few different factors.

A planter that’s too small will crowd roots, resulting in a scarcity of water, oxygen, and nutrients that are vital for healthy, vigorous growth.

Containers that are too big can result in overly moist soil, cutting off oxygen and drowning the roots. And the cool, moist soil often found in planters with too much room is also a welcome mat for plant problems. Fungal growth such as powdery mildew and leaf spot are common visitors, as are damping off and root or stem rot.
Bedding plants, seasonal kitchen herbs, annuals, and bulbs can all be arranged a little closer and tighter than plants in the ground, to make an impressive and healthy visual display.

So, if the recommended spacing is, say, 10-12 inches, item that thrive in containers can be planted about 6-8 inches apart.

And as a general rule, if their normal growth is 10-12 inches tall, you’ll want a pot that’s a bit more than half that size, or around 6-8 inches in diameter. For plants that grow from 24-36 inches in height, a larger container around 24 inches in diameter would be appropriate.

Your pot will need drainage holes with adequate drainage material on the bottom, to allow excess water to flow away easily.

Inverting a smaller plastic pot over the drainage holes will work if adding more weight is an issue, as will using packing chips or peanuts – although there is some controversy about styrene from styrofoam leeching into edibles.

This controversy arose after the 2011 publication of the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens, reporting that “Styrene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen…” It also reported finding low levels of styrene in packaged food was primarily due to leaching from the polystyrene containers they were packed in.

But the report also concluded that these low levels from leaching are still considered to be within acceptable standards for human health. The greatest risk comes from long term occupational exposure in industries that use a lot of this material.

Gravel, pebbles, pieces of broken pottery, nut shells, pinecones, sticks, and coffee filters can all been used for drainage.

As a rule of (green) thumb, container plants don’t like to have wet feet – that is, having their roots sitting in water makes them unhappy.

A soggy root environment will cause most bedding plants to sulk and underperform. Or the roots may simply rot, which is not conducive for pretty planters!

Drainage is also needed to provide aeration for potted roots, as it’s harder for them to “breathe” and access oxygen in a container than it is for plants in the ground.

Are you a succulent gardener? Check out our guide to the best containers for these plants.

2. Plant with a Plan

For many of us, the garden center has the same effect as a candy shop does on kids. “I want some of these, and six of those, and oh, I need a whole flat of the pretty pink ones…” And as we all know, impulse buying does not always mean we’ve made the best choices!

So, a little discernment (and self-discipline!) will help in selecting plants that will produce the best results for your location.

Choose plants that will thrive in your particular climate and light conditions. And if you like to mix plants together in one pot, select ones that have similar requirements for water and light.

Adding some foliage plants will help to fill out your pots, and they also provide an element of unity – pulling the overall picture together for greater visual appeal.

The addition of plants with varying heights and bloom times will also add a dynamic visual interest to your potted gardenscape, changing as the season progresses.

Summer flowering bulbs like gladiolas, canna lilies, arums, and caladiums will extend the season, providing fresh color and interest while earlier bloomers take a rest.

3. Provide Nutrient-Rich Soil

How good is it to be a fully grown adult and still be able to play in the dirt?!

However, we’re not serving up mud pies anymore. As garden stewards, we need to provide a nutrient-rich environment to ensure that our bedding plants thrive.
Amending your soil with about 20-25% finished compost or well-rotted manure improves the soil in a few different ways. It develops the soil’s tilth, or body structure, which helps with the retention of moisture and nutrients, and reduces soil compaction.

Container soil is best when it has some moisture-retaining materials in the mix, such as perlite, vermiculite, sphagnum moss, or peat, at about 20% of the volume. It also needs nutrient-rich materials such as compost or manure.

Amending your soil with about 20-25% finished compost or well-rotted manure improves the soil in a few different ways. It develops the soil’s tilth, or body structure, which helps with the retention of moisture and nutrients, and reduces soil compaction. Plus, it can act as an equalizer for soils that have lost their pH neutrality.

Use a large bin, wheelbarrow, or a layer of plastic on the ground to mix up all of your ingredients in batches large enough to accommodate several pots. And if you purchase a growing mix, ensure that the texture is light and loose enough to provide ample drainage while still retaining some moisture.

If you like to recycle last year’s container soil, replace at least half to two-thirds with fresh soil, recycling any depleted dirt into your compost bin.

Of course, you should never recycle or compost any soil that has had diseased or failing plants grown in it. Spores, fungus, mites, and other unfriendlies can live on in the soil long after the plants have been removed – and they can be nestled in the dirt even with plants that look healthy. A safer option is to use fresh soil for each pot.

4. Give Them a Long, Tall Drink of Water

By the time summer arrives, containers in a sunny location require frequent, even daily, watering when it’s hot out.

However, not all pots require watering at the same time. Differences in light exposure, pot size, and plant size determine how often water is required.

Strong, healthy plants need strong, healthy root systems, which are developed by deep, slow watering. Light watering will develop small, shallow roots just under the surface. This leaves the larger roots at the bottom deprived of moisture, which causes plants to become dehydrated and fail.

Water slowly to ensure the entire root ball, including the deepest roots, gets a good drink, or just until water starts to emerge from the drainage holes.

5. Groom Bi-Weekly

During the growing season, give your containers a light grooming session every couple of weeks.

Deadhead spent blossoms, cut back straggly stems, and if needed, replace any plants that have given up.

Container gardening has no more pests or problems associated with it than ground plantings. But due to their close quarters and reduced air circulation, the spread of fungi and pests can be rapid.

To keep remaining plants free of infestation, any diseased specimens need to be removed pronto.

A few of the most common problems to be on the alert for are:

Black Spot

Most troublesome on roses, black spot also targets fruiting plants and is common in moist, humid conditions. It appears as brown or black spots on stems and leaves, causing leaves to yellow and fall off.

Remove any diseased leaves and stems, clean up all plant debris from the soil surface, and destroy it (i.e. don’t dispose of it in your compost pile).

Water in the morning to allow the leaves to dry thoroughly, and avoid watering on cool days. Some control can be found with regular spraying of new foliage with neem oil.

Botrytis Blight

Also known as gray mold, botrytis blight is another fungus that overwinters on plant debris. It favors cool, rainy weather and can infect numerous ornamentals as well as vegetables, berries, and other types of fruit.

Avoid overhead watering and remove and destroy any plants that may be infected.

Damping Off

Caused by overwatering and cool temperatures, damping off causes plants to rot at the base of the stem and keel over. Avoid overhead watering and move the planter to a warmer spot if possible.

Powdery Mildew

This fungus looks like a dusting of powder all over the plant leaves. It is particular about its weather conditions, showing up when days are warm and nights are cool. It will target flowers, ornamentals, and veggies, and is particularly fond of cereal grains.

Difficult to control, some prevention can be accomplished with regular spraying of new foliage with neem oil.


Plant rust looks like spots of rust on leaves and stems. Fond of hot, humid, and damp conditions, rust will cause plants to wilt and decline.

Rust spores are spread by wind and water, so prompt removal from containers is needed. Avoid overhead watering late in the day, and overwatering in general.

As the summer progresses, you can also freshen your containers with the addition of late-season performers like mums, autumn sedums, asters, calendula, and violas.

And now, for the trick we’ve all been waiting for…

6. The Most Important Step: Fertilize, and Fertilize Again

That’s it. When practiced regularly, this is the one simple tip that will significantly improve the performance and appearance of your planters and containers.

The addition of a slow-release fertilizer is always a good idea, and every planting should be finished off with granules that will feed slowly. A better idea is to give your containers a diluted drink of water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks, and even weekly for small pots that require frequent watering.
Every time a container is watered correctly, to the point of water coming from the drainage holes, it flushes nutrients out of the pot and away from the roots. This is problematic…

The reason is simple. Every time a container is watered correctly, to the point of water coming from the drainage holes, it flushes nutrients out of the pot and away from the roots. This is problematic, because unlike plants grown in the ground that can expand to find food, the roots are limited to an area within the container walls, with no access to fresh dirt and nutrition.

The answer is to supplement with a diluted solution of an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A general purpose fertilizer of 24-8-16 (24% nitrogen, 8% phosphorous, and 16% potassium) will maintain and feed your plants in pretty much any environment, but specific formulas (such as for tomatoes or annuals) may be selected to cater specifically to your chosen plantings.

Take care to heed the word dilute. Too much fertilizer is just as bad (if not worse) than too little, and will cause plants to grow and display fast and bright – but they’ll also burn out and fail quickly, too.

Over-fertilizing can cause plant leaves to turn yellow or brown, and damages roots. “Burning” is caused by the naturally occurring salts in fertilizers, which draw moisture out of the plant. Too much, and the most susceptible areas of the thin tips and edges will brown first, followed by the entire leaf.

To find the Goldilocks zone for fertilizing containers, take the recommended dosage for the product you’re using, and divide it by how frequently you’ll be fertilizing. For example, if the recommended amount is one “scoop” per month, divide the amount by 2 for bi-weekly feedings, and by 4 for weekly fertilizing. Mix into a full watering can and apply to moist soil.

Quick and easy, just as tips and tricks should be!

As a side note, while the majority of nutrients are supplied by the roots, some absorption can occur through the leaves with water soluble foliar fertilizers. Nurseries will often use a nitrogen-rich mix to promote leaf growth of seedlings, while a high phosphorous solution will encourage blooming.

If leaves are showing signs of distress, a foliar spray can quickly supply nutrients. However, they can be a bit tricky to use in mixed containers as different species have different requirements.

And, if the formula is too strong, leaf burn or scorch can easily occur. Plus, only a small amount of nutrients can be applied in one application, limiting its efficacy.

Be The Watcher

As caretaker of your lovely container gardenscape, you’ll also want to keep an eye on your plants to see how they’re responding to your care and maintenance regime. If they’re not flourishing, they’ll communicate their needs by their appearance.

Here’s a roundup of a few common signs to look out for:


The most common causes of wilting are either too little or too much water.

If your plants are drooping due to dry soil, water slowly until it’s been absorbed by the dirt and starts to drain from the pot.

If it’s from too much water, cut back on watering until the soil is dry to the touch before watering again.

Lackluster Performance & General Decline

Leeching nutrients from the soil with each watering is often the cause of underperformance. Increase your fertilizing schedule with diluted applications, as per Tip #6 above.

Low Blossom Show

Annuals that are all leaf and no flower benefit from a fertilizer that’s higher in phosphorous. Look for formulas with a high middle number (i.e. phosphorous), such as 10-20-10, to boost bloom production.

Leggy Plants

By the time mid-summer rolls around, many annuals can be all stem with only a few flowers at the ends of branches. Both leggy annuals and perennials can be renewed by cutting back, which forces new growth.

Cut stems back by two-thirds on only half of the plant at a time, so as to retain some color. New growth will appear in a couple of weeks, at which time the remaining half of the plant can be cut back. And regular deadheading will help to reduce the appearance of scrawny, chicken-leg plants.

Yellow or Brown Leaves

This can have a few different causes. Inadequate nutrition due to leeching as well as over-fertilizing are often culprits, as are inadequate moisture levels.

Check your water and fertilizer routines and adjust as needed.

Do this for your containers from mid-May through the end of August and you’ll be richly rewarded with robust, full plantings of lush foliage and delightful color for the entire growing season.

A Bountiful Bottom Line

With the application of just a few simple steps at the start of the season, some weekly maintenance, and our super fertilizing tip, your containers and planters will have what it takes to put on a blazing display all summer long.

So remember, to retain their healthy good looks for the entire season, feed your planters more frequently, but with weaker doses of a water-soluble fertilizer. This is simple but effective, and you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Do you have any comments or questions about container plantings? If so, drop us a note in the comments below and share your thoughts!


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About Lorna Kring

A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!

Planting In Styrofoam Containers – How To Make A Recycled Foam Planter

Have you ever considered planting in Styrofoam containers? Foam plant containers are lightweight and easy to move if your plants need to cool off in afternoon shade. In chilly weather, foam plant containers provide extra insulation for the roots. Brand new Styrofoam containers are inexpensive, especially after the summer barbeque season. Better yet, you can often find recycled foam containers at fish markets, butcher shops, hospitals, pharmacies or dental offices. Recycling keeps the containers out of the landfills, where they last almost forever.

Can You Grow Plants in Foam Boxes?

Growing plants in foam containers is easy, and the bigger the container, the more you can plant. A small container is ideal for plants like lettuce or radishes. A five-gallon container will work for patio tomatoes, but you’ll need a 10-gallon foam plant container for full-size tomatoes.

Of course, you can also plant flowers or herbs. If you aren’t crazy about the looks of the container, a couple of trailing plants will camouflage the foam.

Growing Plants in Foam Containers

Poke a few holes in the bottom of the containers to provide drainage. Otherwise, plants will rot. Line the bottom of the container with a few inches of Styrofoam peanuts if you’re growing shallow-rooted plants like lettuce. A Styrofoam container holds more potting mix than many plants require.

Fill the container to about an inch (2.5 cm.) from the top with commercial potting mix, along with a generous handful of either compost or well-rotted manure. Compost or manure can comprise up to 30 percent of the potting mix, but 10 percent is usually plenty.

Elevate the container an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm.) to facilitate drainage. Bricks work well for this. Place the container where your plants will receive the optimum level of sunlight. Place your plants carefully in the potting mix. Be sure they aren’t crowded; lack of air circulation can promote rot. (You can also plant seeds in Styrofoam containers.)

Check the container daily. Plants in Styrofoam containers need plenty of water during hot weather, but don’t water to the point of sogginess. A layer of mulch keeps the potting mix moist and cool. Most plants benefit from a dilute solution of water-soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks.

Is Styrofoam Safe for Planting?

Styrene is listed as a carcinogenic substance by the National Institute of Health, but its risks are higher for those working around it as opposed to simply planting in a styrofoam cup or container. It also takes many years to break down, and it isn’t affected by soil or water.

What about leaching? Many experts say the levels are not high enough to warrant any issues, and it takes high temperatures for this to occur at all. In other words, growing plants in recycled foam planters is, for the most part, considered safe.

However, if you’re truly concerned about the possible effects from planting in styrofoam, it is advisable to avoid growing edibles and stick to ornamental plants instead.

Once finished with your recycled foam planter, dispose of it carefully – never by burning, which can allow for potentially dangerous toxins to be emitted.

Using Styrofoam in Plant Containers

I grow many plants in containers, from small pots to 5 gallon buckets, and large recycle bins. A lot of these containers will get a layer of Styro chips before any soil or other medium is added.

I have two reasons for adding the Styro. I often find it necessary to move large containers filled with soil and plants. The addition of a layer of Styro significantly reduces the weight of the container.

The other reason is that the Styro helps provide excellent drainage, giving me less chance of root rot and related problems, and it reduces the weight of hanging baskets. I have noticed that the quality of hanging basket material diminishes more each year. I usually have a couple come crashing to the ground.

I have experimented with most types and grades of Styro. Loose beads are of no use. All that work their way to the top of the container will be blown and scattered by the wind.

Packing peanuts would seem ideal. They are clean, usually readily available, and don’t have to be broken into pieces. With all these advantages, I still won’t use them. Due to their smooth exterior, they are not the best at providing good drainage. They can be a mess should you need to re-pot a plant and retrieve the soil.

I use Styro which once was used for shipping large items such as televisions and other electronics. There are at least two grades of Styro used for this purpose. There is a lot of difference in these two grades.

One is lighter and seems to be made of Styro beads pressed together. These beads have a tendency to break loose from the torn chip, and just as loose beads, can scatter across the lawn at the slightest puff of wind.

The other is much more dense, and consequentially, is harder to break into chips. I find it well worth the extra effort. This denser Styro will last for many years in a plant container without causing a mess of any kind.

I am fortunate in that as often as I shop at Walmart, I often find a jobber in back of the store, unpacking items which were shipped in Styro. Such was the case, yesterday. The fella had already filled two very large plastic bags with Styro. I asked if I could have some. He said, “You can have all you want. It will save me from taking it to the dumpster”.

So, I managed to get an excellent material for use in plant containers, just for the asking. And I did my part to keep several large bags of one of the worst environmental offenders out of the landfill. One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure.

If you don’t find the occasion to get this dense Styro from stores, you can ask friends and neighbors to keep what they would normally throw in the trash. I can see many ways in which this is better all around, for all plants and all people. And since we are still in our infancy, knowledge-wise, I’m sure there are many unseen advantages, too.

Styrofoam Pot

We are all going green. Flower pots are expensive. You can make a simple pot from scraps of styrofoam, outdoor caulking, and small rocks from the Dollar Store. On this pot I used rocks, tile from a discount warehouse, and chess set pieces from Goodwill.


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Styrofoam pieces

Outdoor Caulking – 2 tubes

Onyx chess pieces – Goodwill $2.00

Glass tiles – Warehouse Closeout 2 sheets at $1.00 each

Dollar Store rocks – 2 bags $2.00

Glue the styrofoam pieces together with the caulking if you do not have a square shape. Use scraps of styrofoam to cover any holes. Don’t worry about how it looks; your rocks and decor will cover any defects and the caulking is thick.

After you have a pot shape, it’s time to decorate. On the flat surface of styrofoam, spread caulking thick, like icing a cake on one side, and push your rocks or decor into the caulking.

Let it dry flat at least 5 hours and then repeat on the next side. If you turn your pot before the caulking sets, your decor can slide and ruin your design or it can leave spaces you don’t want left.

When all sides are complete, let the pot dry for 24 hrs and it will be ready for planting.

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