With a two-acre property, you'd think I wouldn't really need to grow plants in containers. And yet I do. And in a big way. Last year I had 125 plants in pots, not including my bonsai. This year I decided to cut back a bit, and at last count I had only 70 or so.
Most of my plants are in terra cotta pots. I've always loved the look of clay, and good ones hold up well for several seasons without cracking. I grow perennials in double-fired pots, and despite temperatures in the teens around here, they (the pots and the plants) do just fine.
So just what do I grow? Well, you name it. I've got vegetables and herbs in pots, annuals and perennials in pots, even trees and shrubs in pots. There's really no limit to what you can put in a pot, and in some cases I don't put anything in them. I just like to admire the pot itself without any distractions. The bulk of my potted stuff is on the back patio and around the pool. I love to create a tropical look around the pool with palms, and I get them cheap at either the blue or orange box stores.
How cheap? Well around here a six-foot majesty palm goes for around 20 bucks, which is cheaper than a flat of annuals in many cases. And at the end of the season, annuals are history, whereas palms can be overwintered in the house, assuming you've got enough room and sufficient light.
I also like to grow cacti and succulents in pots, and I overwinter them indoors as well. Oh, and let's not forget the agaves, a few of which are actually hardy to Zone 5, including Agave neomexicana, which is a real beauty. Oddly enough, I sometimes have to put my cacti and
succulents in the garage during the spring, since too much rain can actually cause root rot.
Naturally, I grow a number of conifers in pots, especially those for which little is known with respect to exposure. That way I can move them around if they're getting too much or too little sun. Many of my conifers are bonsai candidates, but not all. This little nursery bed works great, although I freak out
now and then when the kids have pool parties and I see all sorts of objects flying through the air. But over the years I've come to accept the damage done by kids -- frisbees slicing through the branches of prized Japanese maples, hostas crushed by soccer balls, etc.
Although I like to grow one plant per pot, my wife likes to combine all sorts of plants. This year, I did most of the planting, so I got my way. And here are just a few of the plants I potted up.
The only real challenge to growing plants in containers is watering regularly. I suggest you either water in the morning with a cup of tea or coffee, or in the early evening with a more potent beverage. Personally, I prefer the latter timetable for two reasons. First, research has shown that container plants actually do better when watered late in the day, and perhaps more importantly, I prefer to have the hose in one hand and a more potent beverage in the other when I water.