Garden Clippings: I’m Addicted to Pots

I know I’m not alone!

Prowling the aisles of Armstrong, buying up inventory at IKEA, downloading from the Plow and Hearth and Guy Wolff — that’s right, I’m addicted to pots.

Not long ago, I had to tell Oscar at the garden center, “Cut me off.”

Using pots is just plain easier than shoveling holes, and it's a pretty good excuse to combine annuals, perennials and outdoor decor all in one fell swoop. Plus for equivocators, movable pots lack the permnanece of flower beds or planned landscapes.

Colored ceramic pots create instant eye candy where nothing grows. An enormous terra cotta bowl can create drama on top of pilasters. Front porches get dressed up in pots.

The Victorians practically invented the container garden likely modeling their designs after the earliest example of container gardening—the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, where plantings were cultivated above ground level, their roots embedded in terraces rather than earth.

Whether choosing Portugal ceramics or USA clay; resin or terra cotta; red, white or blue try to match the style of pots to your abode’s architecture; for example use zinc for a mid-century ranch, footed urns for Mediterranean, colorful ceramics against stucco, whitewashed concrete for bungalows.

GreenSceneLandscape owner/designer Scott Cohen advises using pots as a way to spruce up houses with smaller yards.

"The key is water management," he said. "Houses with western and southern exposure in the San Fernando Valley get hot. And if you are putting pots bordering a driveway, all that extra concrete adds to the heat. So plant in pots that have their own self-watering systems."

Also consider that pots can get lost in the great outdoors so for ultimate impact use at the very least a two gallon, one gallon, and several 3-4 inch containers in a grouping.

After you’ve chosen your perfect pot, make sure to leave room in the trunk because planting in pots means buying lots of potting soil.

You don’t even have to put anything inside your pots. Just group them as Cheryl Ayer did on Camellia. She created "the gallery of blue pots. It just came into my head."

Just remember--one is good, ten are better.


1. Have good sources: for pop design, there’s IKEA, Reseda Pottery in Reseda offers drama; handmade art pots beckon from Esther pottery available at Potted, 3158 Los Feliz Blvd. Los Angeles); and then there’s the highly sought-after Made In America, Guy Wolff pottery, handmade, historic garden pots, sold by weight of the clay, stamped with year and artist; also check out garage sales where pots sell for dirt cheap.

2. Drainage is crucial. There should be a hole at the pot’s bottom. Use a saucer to keep stains off patios and pool decks. Most potted plants should have raised bottoms so buy "feet" for pots at the garden center.

3. If you see a pot you love but there’s no drainage, you can usually drill holes. If you don’t want to chance drilling, put your plant in a smaller pot and place inside the decorative pot leaving room around the edge to pull it out for watering.

4. If the rim of the pot is decorative, use a mounding plant that will not hide it such as succulent Sedum, Sempervivum, and Echeveria or for color bowls, pansies.
5. Go bold around the pool with large pots of specimen palms.

6. For vegetables, avoid dark colored containers that absorb heat and will likely damage plant roots. Vegetables happy in containers include carrots, radishes and lettuce, tomatoes and peppers.

7. Grow roses in pots with self-watering system... or keep up with hand watering. Use at least a five gallon pot.

8. Keep an extra bag of potting soil nearby. Squirrels dig in pots throwing dirt everywhere and watering/rain will splash soil over the edges. Leave about an inch and a half to two inches from the soil line to the rim.

9. Deadheading is critical.

10. Don’t let plants get rootbound. Divide and repot.

STEAL THIS IDEA: Paint terra cotta pots using a sponge brush dipped in water based acrylic paint or all natural powdered pigments. Start by painting the inside of the pot then go crazy. Seal the finished project with 2-3 coats of clear acrylic Krylon paint Let Dry!

Laura July 31, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Jackalope Pottery in North Hollywood is another good source.
Marla Hart July 31, 2012 at 07:31 PM
It's been awhile since I've been there...now I'm going!
Elke Heitmeyer August 01, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Love your stairs arrangement! I have many succulents in pots, but on flat ground - formerly lawn, now mostly dirt - am using different size pots, so it does look interesting. Trouble is the ground squirrels that have moved in have started to feed on my succulents! Cute - but I think they are going to be relocating soon!
Marla Hart August 01, 2012 at 03:43 AM
The squirrels or the succulents! Squirrels have repeatedly dug out plants from pots to bury their food. I have learned to accept this as they live a hard life--harder than the gardener's. It helps to pack dirt/sand/gravel in really tightly, but it won't work miracles.


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