Container Gardening With Native Plants

container gardenWould you like a way to add some curb appeal to your house and teach your kids about the environment at the same time? Why not plant natives in a container garden next to your front door?

Native plants benefit the environment because they provide food that native animals need. They benefit you because they’re adapted to the climate where you live. Once they’re established, they usually need less maintenance than non-native plants.

Container Garden Ideas

Since I’m new to gardening, I did some research about how to make container gardens. Here are a few simple ideas I picked up:

  • Put one container on either side of the front door.
  • Group three containers together.
  • Use bright pots for a pop of color.
  • Put grasses, flowers, and ivy together.

To make your container garden, you’ll need a place to buy native plants, containers, potting soil, and stones. You also might need a drill.

Native Plants

My town has a plant nursery devoted to native plants, and there is a large plant nursery in a neighboring town that sells some natives. If you can’t figure out where to buy them, you can search for a native plant society in your state. They will probably be able to tell you where to find natives.

You can research plants before you go or decide on a general idea of what you want. When I went to the nursery, I told the employee that I wanted grass, purple and yellow flowers, and ivy that could grow in the shade. He said the grasses they had grew in the sun, but he showed me a flower that had a grassy appearance that would grow in the shade. Instead of ivy, he pointed out a ground cover flower that would spill over the edge of the container. Someone at the nursery should also be able to tell you which plants attract butterflies and what time of year the plants will bloom.

Buy native plants

Containers

You can get really creative about the type of containers you use. I read an article in Southern Living about a gardener who painted a dresser blue and put plants in a drawer. I bought simple pots from Home Depot. There were some colorful stone pots that I would have liked to buy, but plastic pots were in my budget range. Lowes had nice plastic pots in bright colors, but I went with black and gold pots from Home Depot because I didn’t want it to be obvious that the pots were made from plastic.

Potting Material

I found organic potting soil on sale. The employee at Home Depot said I should put some rocks in the bottom of the pots to help the soil drain. She also pointed out that the pots I had picked out didn’t have drainage holes, so I would need to drill them. When I moved into my house, there were stones in the landscaping beds, so I decided to use those instead of buying them.

Drill holes if needed

Planting the Containers

Once you have all of your materials, planting the containers is easy. You can drill the holes if needed, and your child can have fun placing stones in the pots. I added two or three layers of stones in mine. Kids can also add the soil and place the plants in the pots.

Add a couple layers of stones

The plants can be watered right after planting, and then either in the morning or evening on days it doesn’t rain. If you live in a dry climate, they may not need to be watered every day. If you have a wet season and a dry season, remember to water them during the dry season. You may also want to talk to someone at the nursery about when and how to prune the plants back, especially if they’ll go dormant during the winter.

Center pot: spiderwort, goldenrod, wild petunia, and twinflower. Side pots: wild petunia.

Teaching Ideas

Your child can be a naturalist by observing the animals that visit the plants. There could be caterpillars, butterflies, chipmunks, lizards, or other small animals. Your child could also keep a notebook to write down the days when the flowers bloom or when the leaves change color in the fall. This will help them hone their observation skills and be aware of changes in their environment.

First blooms on the spiderwort

Share Your Container Gardens

I would love to see pictures of native plant container gardens that you made with your kids. Post pictures in the comment area and share your ideas for container gardening.

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