If you are planning to sell your home this summer, consider container planting for curb appeal. Petunias cascading from flower boxes, colorful flower pots on patios, and vertical interest can enhance the appearance of your house when potential buyers drive by.
I’m a real estate agent, not a gardener, so I consulted my friend Kate, who is an avid gardener, about how to create pretty flower pots and window boxes. When it comes to container plantings, she is a wiz. Her deck always looks and smells beautiful and her flower boxes are lovely. She’s also a Vermont real estate photographer and was able to provide me with some great photos to go along with her helpful advice. Here are her recommendations on how to create a vibrant container planting for curb appeal. And remember, nothing says you take care of your home than beautiful flowers blooming all summer long.
Starting with Seeds
If you have the ability to start seeds under grow lights indoors, start them in mid to late April. They will be ready to harden off and transplant into your containers once the danger of frost is past. Plant choices are endless, so look at catalogs, magazines, and Pinterest for ideas, and ask for recommendations from the staff at your local garden center.
Preparing the Soil
Annuals are heavy feeders, so you need to start with good soil. Kate only uses organic plant material and recommends mixing two parts Lambert LM 3 and one part composted cow manure, such as Moo Doo. Sprinkle in water crystals, such as Soil Moist, to help prevent the soil from drying out, and some slow-release fertilizing pellets (for amounts, follow directions on container). If you’re planting a lot of containers, mix everything in a wheel barrow. Add water until everything is moist and clumps together. Fill your containers with this mixture before adding the plants.
As soon as your favorite greenhouse has young annuals for sale, head on down. Annuals tend to sell quickly and you will not have a good selection if you wait until after Memorial Day Weekend. It’s okay to keep plants in their 4-packs and 6-packs for up to three weeks before transplanting them to containers. Just makes sure they have plenty of filtered sun, enough water, and that they don’t become root-bound. When purchasing seedlings, check to make sure they are not already root-bound by gently pushing up one of the plugs out of the packaging and taking a peek.
Planting the Containers
Once all danger of frost is past, you can start transplanting your seedlings into pots and window boxes. Be careful not to plant too many starts in one container. Remember, plants will grow and fill in all that extra space. Read the plant labels to determine proper spacing.
Keep it simple. Too many different plants can make a planter look confusing. Usually two or three colors are enough for one container. Don’t forget that green leaves count as one color.
Try for different heights and plant taller species to the back. Cascading plants such as the wave petunia series should go to the front or around the edges.
Annuals tend to need a lot of sunshine, but don’t worry, there are some annuals that do fine in shade. Some even do better in shade, such as begonia, fuscia, impatience, and vines. These same plants don’t need as much water, so always check the soil first before watering.
Containers are small and tend to dry out quickly. Annuals in full sun will need to be watered daily on hot days. Water in the morning so the soil can soak up the moisture before things start to dry out.
Since annuals are such heavy feeders, fertilize every two to three weeks with a liquid fertilizer. Nitrogen causes plants to produce more foliage, so using a fertilizer that’s low in nitrogen will increase the bud bloom. Once plants start to bud, use a bloom-boosting fertilizer to help increase the bud count and bloom vibrancy.
Don’t forget to deadhead. Pluck or snip off spent blooms. This will encourage more flowers and it also looks better if your plants aren’t covered with brown dried-up flowers.
Have fun with container planting, best wishes on your new curb appeal, and good luck selling your home!