The urge to plant is nearing fever pitch about now, with eager gardeners swarming greenhouses and nurseries itching to get a little dirt under their nails. And for those short on outdoor space or exploring fresh landscaping ideas, pots and planters are a convenient way to display flowers, herbs or even trees.
"We do a lot of mixed pots here," said Wes King, general manager at King's Gardens Garden Center in Lexington. "Anything you want to put in a pot, we can do it for you."
Combo containers that he calls "Thrillers, Spillers and Fillers" feature plants with height for added drama, mixed with mid-size plants as filler, and trailing varieties that spill over the edge.
Although smaller flowering plants are popular for pots, even trees can be potted in larger containers.
"Lots of time people are doing bigger front porches," explained King, who said the staff has used slow-growing beeches for container planting. "They've come out with Urban Apples meant to grow on patios and pots. It doesn't get super tall."
Simple terra cotta pots made of baked clay have been used for ages as containers and are readily available at most gardening centers. Over time they develop a lovely green patina for a rustic look.
To add interest to a yard or patio or to brighten a shady spot, ceramic vessels come in a variety of bright colors. But keep in mind that once filled with soil, plants and water, ceramic and terra cotta pots can be very heavy, so think about how you'll get them to your preferred spots.
For an accent that's fun and functional, look for unusual or vintage objects such as metal tubs or wooden boxes. Just make sure there is a drainage hole for water, or place an elevated pot inside the container.
Another popular direction for container gardening is up. Crate & Barrel's Hermione clay wall planters are available in three sizes in a vibrant shade of green and come with their own hooks to hang alone or group on a wall or trellis.
Hammered galvanized metal hanging planters from Pottery Barn have a modern, octagonal shape that would look as attractive inside as out.
No matter your container, keep in mind that potted plants can dry out and lose nutrients more quickly than those growing in your yard.
"It will take a lot more water," said King of King's Gardens, which will host an open house Saturday with container garden how-to's from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. "And keep in mind that you need to fertilize a little more frequently than if it was in the ground."