You can grow edibles and ornamentals in containers

May 6, 2011

By Contributor

The grow-your-own-food revolution is in full swing for small space gardeners. Blend that with the desire for pretty container designs and you have a remarkable variety of combinations at your fingertips.

Apartments, condominiums, balconies or small-scale patios are all viable locations for growing many edibles in containers. As long as you can find a small spot of sun for the bulk of the day, you can grow quite a harvest. Choosing plants that are nutritious, delicious and beautiful is the very best way to maximize your limited space, whether it’s in a window box or several large containers.

Herbs like lemon thyme and chamomile add interesting foliage interest and texture. Contributed

A number of edibles that are highly ornamental also create horticultural drama. By adding some of your favorite ornamental annuals or perennials to your container designs, you can have the best of all worlds in one square-footage-challenged garden.

If you decide you want to grow tomatoes in containers this season, try under planting your tomato with trailing million bells or calibrichoa and sweet potato vine. The only limit to what you can grow with edibles is your imagination.

Alternatively, you might try a blueberry bush with some trailing annuals, such as nemesia or verbena. Add in some herbs like lemon thyme and chamomile for added foliage interest and texture.

Strawberries make great container plants, too. Try a hanging basket or a half wall planter and add some lobelia for a powerful combination!

Artichoke or rhubarb can be dramatic and bountiful in a container. Add some ornamental grasses for textural contrast with those big leaves, some fancy geraniums and some edible flowers, such as violas or nasturtium, for a long-lasting display that’s yummy, too!

Climbing peas can be a unique centerpiece in a container when you grow them up some twisted will branches. At the base, heuchera and nemesia cranberry, play nicely with the silvery pea foliage.

Before you plant your container edibles and ornamentals, here are the top five questions you should ask yourself:

1. What do I like to eat?

2. How much care will my containers need weekly?

3. How much light do I have for ripening and good pollination?

4. How many containers do I need/want?

5. How much should I plant for a good harvest?

Your skilled nursery person can help you design a container with the best fruit, herb and vegetable selections that are appropriate for your setting, maintenance and appetite.

Email Christina Salwitz at Comment at


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