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.
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.
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.