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Gardening in Containers

Twice a year, we change out our containers. There is always a theme to our containers. This year, our color scheme is purple and gold. When making these choices, we had gone through the greenhouse to see what were the strongest color matches. It just so happened that I had a yellow shrimp plant with purple heart underneath. Wow, just think of the possibilities.   

I recently attended a Memphis Horticulture Society meeting on Container Gardening. The main thing that was taught: great containers begin with great soil. We have three big sets of containers. One set is located in the Courtyard surrounding the Nile, another along Elephant Row and the other is at Rides/ Stingrays area. The bottom third of our container is filled with rocks for stability and for the water to drain very quickly. A layer of landscape fabric is between that and the mixture of potting soil and leafy bits compost that we add to all our pots. We fluff up the soil and add about a gallon or more of leafy bits and mix it in really well in the soil. After that, it is time to bring out the plants.   

The different locations call for different placement of plant material. At the Courtyard/ Plaza and Rides/ Stingrays pots we use our base plants to anchor near the back of the pots. I attended another container gardening course in Natchitoches, LA with the Master Gardeners. The theme that is always used is thriller, chiller, filler and spiller. As you can see from photo one, the bananas we used as the thriller (the attention grabber) were placed deep in the pots. The chiller (eye candy) is the yellow shrimp plants that will continue to thrive and wow all throughout the summer months. The spiller (falls out of the pot) is the sweet potato vines Chartreusse and ‘Blackie.’ To fill out the pots, we used an assortment of coleus chosen for the color scheme of purple and gold. Another tropical interest was the use of bromileads. [Photo 1]   

This year our Rides/ Stingrays pots are more tropicals using Papyrus with the assorted purple and gold themed plant display. It has a mixture of coleus with yellow gold lantana, purple heart and Mexican petunia. [Photo 2]   

Along Elephant Row this year, we will have our purple and gold theme pronounced at the Pachyderm pots. The first set of pots will include purple porter weed, yellow gold lantana and weeping purple lantana. The second set will have Black and Blue Salvia, a mixture of coleus, yellow gold lantana and asclepias. The third set of pots in front of the old Rhino exhibit is in full shade and uses shade tones of purple and gold. We will host Xanthosoma elephant ears, with Joseph’s coat, Sweet potato vine ‘Blackie’, assorted coleus and streptocarpella. [Photo 3, 4, 5]   

The trick to great containers is to fill the pots with color, and then sit back and watch them grow all season long. The selection of thriller, spiller, and chiller plants are to chose those that bloom all season long. That list includes lantana, shrimp plant, cannas, salvias, plectranthus, zinnias, melampodium, and pentas. Fill in the blank spaces with foliage that will contrast or mirror your main color scheme. Then add fertilizer and water. Sit back and watch the show begin. It always amazes me the spectacular displays I see throughout the Memphis Zoo. On your next visit, check out the gardens surrounding our wonderful animal exhibits.  

Posted by Zoo Info at 2:07 PM

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