Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Amy Stone

Spring fever is finally here

My forehead feels a bit warm, my fingertips are tingly, and my knees are a bit weak. I think I have a bad case of spring fever. My hands are ready to dig and my knees are ready to get dirty.

Sunny skies and warm temperatures will do that to any gardener. I’m hearing many Rototillers humming and mowers buzzing, so I know that I am not alone in my current state. I want to tackle the spring lawn, plant the vegetable garden, spray the fruit trees, prune the roses, trim the trees, divide the hostas and day lilies, and I can’t forget to plant the containers at every entrance. The list is even longer than that, but let’s just dig in and start with the containers.

Here’s the plan

You will stay on budget if you buy what you need instead of what you want. Look at pictures from last year and see what you need. Also glance at your garden journal you should be keeping.

Maybe you need more blooms in the summer so you might pick up a few summer blooming annuals. Maybe you are looking for plants with more height and structure all year long. Get organized and keep a running list of areas that need some help.

A great way to get some healthy native plants is to buy them from area plant sales. These are usually some of the biggest fund-raisers of the year. They also give master gardeners some practice figuring out what plants they have in their yard, labeling them and getting them ready to sell.

Here’s what they need

Before you start loading the cart, think about the amount of sun your plants will need. Anything more than eight hours of sun a day can be considered full sun. Anything less than that is considered partial sun. If it gets less than four hours of direct sun a day, you are looking for shade-loving plants.

Can you easily water these plants daily? In the heat of mid summer, they will dry out quickly. Consider installing a simple irrigation system that can attach to your outside spigot. Install a timer and it will automatically keep your container garden looking lush.

One thing your pot won’t contain is dirt. That sounds silly, doesn’t it? Most containers are packed with a soil-less potting mixture. Its a blend of peat moss, vermiculite and pearlite. Those ingredients are boosted with liquid fertilizer and sometimes water-storing crystals that keep the roots moist.

Give your containers another dose of fertilizer around July 4.

Here’s how to do it

Be brave and play around with the annuals and perennials at the garden center. Pillars are the tall plants. Use one in the center for height. Tuck in three other upright plants to fill in the middle of a container, then fill in the sides with three or five trailing plants that will hang over the edge.

You don’t have to use traditional plants. You can grow a vine on a trellis in the center of your container as the tall element. Use tall grasses to give your container height. Think outside of the box and you will come up with some fun combinations. Just make sure they need the same care. Put all sun loving plants together and all shady plants together.

Stick to a simple color scheme. Dark purple and lime green. Hot pink and lime green. Red and dark green and a splash of purple. Orange, yellow, and white. If you keep the colors simple, they will grow to become a more dramatic focal point within your landscape.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at

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