If you are purchasing a container planting, consider the location where it will likely be placed. Will it get at least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day? If it will be on the north side or on the east side with a large overhang, then select a planter with shade tolerant flowers such as begonias, impatiens, fuchsias, and pansies. These shade tolerant varieties will also do well with morning sun.

If you are going to plant your own container, here are some suggestions for greater beauty and success:

Select a container which is large enough that it will not dry out too quickly. 8 or 10 inch diameter hanging baskets are my minimum. I prefer tubs which are at least 10 inches deep. Even though most roots will be concentrated in the top 6 to 10 inches, additional soil below will provide a cushion of moisture. Add one of the moisture absorbing materials such as “Soil Moist” to the soil before planting. Make sure your container has adequate holes in the bottom for drainage. If using a decorative outer container, make sure the inner container has holes. Even then, make sure it is not over watered so you end up with standing water. Most potting soils have adequate drainage, but make sure water does not stand on top for more than a few minutes.

Select flowers which have compatible colors. Although tastes vary, I avoid planting orange next to bright pink. I like combinations with shades of blue and lavender or shades of pink with some white or yellow for contrast. Red is also a good contrast color also, if compatible with other colors. Red, white and blue is also an attractive combination. Non-flowering plants with silver or variegated foliage also add interest.

Place 2, 3 or 4 plants of the same kind at equal intervals around the container. Repetition adds interest. Unless you have a large container, 3 to 5 different varieties is better than too many. Of course, containers with a single variety such as fuchsias, petunias, impatiens or geraniums are also attractive.

At least some of the plants should be trailing so they hang over the edge. Something which grows taller is attractive in the center of tubs. I like to use dracaena spikes or an upright plant such as blue salvia or snapdragon. Place plants close together. That way, if something dies, adjoining plants will fill in the space.

Because of the more limited root room, containers need more frequent watering and fertilization than plants in the ground. To avoid weekly fertilization, I use coated, gradual release fertilizer such as “Osmocote”.