Published in 405HOME / Photos by Carli Economy
Local gardening experts say there is an art and a science to making your spring pots pop with color and design, and they have tips for you based on their Oklahoma-grown experience.
Calvert’s Plant Interiors has been serving Oklahoma City since the 1970s, but its site has had a greenhouse on it since 1907. Potting expert Chelsea Hughes advises:
- Fertilizing plants is key. With a slow-release fertilizer, you don’t have to worry about “burning” the plants (overdoing it by giving them too much at once). Check on the fertilizer once or twice a season to make sure it’s working, and follow the manufacturer’s directions to make sure it is still adequate. Osmocote fertilizer is a good product.
- Don’t plant too early. Oklahoma’s weather starts getting warm in early spring, but gardeners are always in danger of an after-Easter freeze. Don’t be tempted by the beautiful plants in stores in March; wait until mid-April to plant.
- Watch your watering. Oklahoma’s wind and heat can affect watering needs. Don’t over-water plants, but do keep an eye on them. You’ll likely water every other day—if not every day.
- Consider all the options. Calvert’s carries a lot of palm varieties, which do well in Oklahoma’s container gardens. These include bottle, adonidia, fan or date palms. Desert plants like cacti, yucca and other succulents are also popular for containers. To add color, especially in the summer, Hughes likes hibiscus, mandevilla, begonias and zinnias.
Marcum’s Nursery was founded in 1975 by Cherie and Bill Marcum. Their son Kelly Marcum, a leader in the family business, offers these insights:
- Seek quality soil. A high-quality potting mix created locally gives you the best chance for success. A poor potting soil will crust on the top after a few waterings and attract things like fungus gnats.
- Mix in a few favorite products. Redbud Compost will make your plant “healthier and happier.” It contains mycorrhizae, a beneficial fungus that allows the plant to soak up additional nutrients and protects the root system—meaning your pots will last longer. Additionally, SoilMost significantly reduces waterings; it holds moisture in around the plants.
- Know a few winners. Great plants for Oklahoma spring planting (and later) include sun and regular impatiens, ageratum, dianthus, Joseph’s Coats, coleus, begonias, pentas, periwinkles and purslane.
Adorn Planters’ founder Elizabeth Richardson has served clients since 2013. She says:
- Shop locally. Local garden centers carry plants that grow well in Oklahoma, and those who work there are knowledgeable about how to care for them. Local garden centers also have their own great potting mixes, and you’ll want fresh soil every year.
- Design with “thrillers, spillers and fillers.” First, add a big, eye-catching plant in the middle of the container—the thriller. Then use fillers that aren’t as tall to fill in space around the thriller. Finally, add spillers to cascade over the planter and soften the look of the arrangement.
- Group plants with similar needs. Consider the watering and shade/sun needs of the plants to ensure they are similar within each pot. Note: In Oklahoma, “partial sun” is best suited for the less severe morning sun.
- Combine colors and textures. Mix at least two colors and three leaf textures into the pot, if possible. Variegated leaf plants can add depth and contrast. Purple heart adds a purple-red color. Dusty miller has silver leaves. Swedish ivy has a bit of a stripe. Interesting textures include asparagus (short and spiky), cactus, sweet potato vine, cabbage and kale (ruffled).