Chicago Flower and Garden Show
March 6 - 14
James Martin Associates
59 East US Highway 45
In Cooperation with the Chicago Botanic Garden visitors of the Flower & Garden Show will again have the unique opportunity to get a little 'dirty' -- but have loads fun in the process -- at the popular Potting Parties held four times each day (at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.) at the Educational Workshop area on the show floor.
For a $20 "lab fee" donation that benefits a local charity, you'll be provided a pot, soil and assorted foliage to plant your own creation, all under the watchful tutorship of a horticulturalist.
The final result of these hands-on parties will be a personal mini-garden masterpiece that you'll be able to take home and enjoy. Each Potting Party is limited to 25 participants, so be sure to sign up early when you first arrive at the show to RSVP yourself a front row seat!
Guide to Successful Container Planting
Create Drainage & Prevent Spillage of Soil
This is your chance to RECYCLE, collect and reuse what you have - broken pieces of pots, scrunched up, used flower cell packs. If those items are unavailable, a 1-3" layer of gravel will suffice.
In large containers, again RECYCLE what you have on hand use crumpled plastic milk containers, or use those pesky packing peanuts (make sure they are not corn starch based or they will degrade) or use any other light weight material to fill lower pot space, leaving the top available for 8-10" of soil.
Separate Soil from Drainage Area
Use a landscape filter fabric or any other small mesh fabric, again RECYCLE - old window screening, toile and cheesecloth will do great.
Place fabric over your choice of drainage material.
Fill Container with Potting Soil Mixture
Compost is great for containers, add pine bark fines or coarse sand if drainage is with your compost is inadequate.
If compost is unavailable or weight of soil is a consideration, a soil-less potting mix from local garden stores will work great. Soil less mixes will ensure that the mix is free from weed seeds, critters and soil borne diseases. A good mix will include peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, bark fines & organic material.
Moisten potting soil mixture to point that when soil is squeezed it retains shape, but water does not drip.
Fill soil to approximately 2" below rim of pot to allow room for planting.
If watering is a concern, consider using the following self watering containers, incorporating drip irrigation or applying a humate treatment like H3O water management.
Incorporate an organic fertilizer into the soil, apply rates based on recommendations on product label.
Place taller plants either in the back of the container (when against a wall) or in the center of the container (when viewed from all sides).
Trailing plants should be placed at the edge of the container.
Consider texture and color of both leaves and flowers when placing plants.
Fine textured leaves look good combined with broad leaves.
Group colors in masses for bolder statements or mix colors for to create a more dramatic planter.
Tips Before Completion
Leave 1" between soil level and rim of container to reduce soil run off and to allow enough room for water to sit and percolate through soil.
Install plants where base or crown of plant meet soil line in original pot, do not install plants lower than soil's original level otherwise stems could rot.
Fill gaps between plants with more potting mixture.
Do not push soil so hard that it compacts in the pot. Leave good, soft soil for the roots to grow.
Watering & Fertilization Tips
Water your container when planting is complete.
Water should penetrate completely through soil in pot the first time you water.
Water container when soil moisture is almost depleted, (determine by a finger test, or just plan to hand water nearly every day during the heat of summer).
Soil should never be soggy (although the rain may cause this on occasion).
For liquid fertilizations, treat plants about every 2-3 weeks until late summer. We recommend an organic fish / seaweed blend fertilizer. Our preference is the 3-2-1 from Neptune's Harvest.
March 5 - Chicago Flower and Garden Show
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.