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Pots, tubs, and half barrels overflowing with flowers add appeal to any garden, but container gardening can serve a practical purpose too. Container gardening is ideal for those with little or no garden space. In addition to growing flowers, gardeners limited to a balcony, small yard, or only a patch of sun on their driveway can produce a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers. Basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the kitchen door.
Container gardening also adds versatility to gardens large and small. Plants lend instant color, provide a focal point in the garden, or tie in the architecture of the house to the garden. Place them on the ground or on a pedestal, mount them on a windowsill, or hang them from your porch. A pair of matching containers on either side of the front walk serves as a welcoming decoration, while container gardening on a deck or patio can add color and ambiance to such outdoor sitting areas.
You can use single, large containers for outdoor decoration, but also consider arranging groups of pots, both small and large, on stairways, terraces, or anywhere in the garden. Clusters of pots can contain a collection of favorite plants — hen-and-chicks or herbs used both for ornament and for cooking, for example — or they may feature annuals, dwarf evergreens, perennials, or any other plants you'd like to try. Houseplants summering outdoors in the shade also make a handsome addition to container gardening. Window boxes and hanging baskets offer even more ways to add instant color and appeal.
Use your imagination and combine upright and trailing plants, edibles, and flowers for pleasing and colorful effects. Container gardening can be enjoyed for one season and discarded, or designed to last for years. When designing permanent containers, remember that the plants will be less hardy than usual because their roots are more exposed to fluctuating air temperature. Nonhardy plants will need to have winter protection or be moved to a sheltered space. So consider how heavy the container will be and decide how you will move it before choosing a nonhardy plant.For containers that remain attractive all summer long, look for warm-weather annuals that bloom all summer or have foliage that remains attractive. Geraniums, marigolds, wax begonias, coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), scarlet sage (Salvia splendens), and flowering tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) are all good choices, but you will find many, many more in garden centers and seed catalogs. Experiment, and if one plant doesn't work out, don't worry about it — just cut it down and try something else. For large containers, dwarf cannas and dwarf dahlias also make satisfying additions. (Source: www.goodhousekeeping.com)