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How to Make Summer Planters – A Step by Step Guide with Shopping List

Guide for how to make summer planters. Make a beautiful seasonal summer container garden this year! Includes shopping list for annuals and supplies.

How to make a Summer Planter

How to make a Summer Planter

Spring Sprucing at The Studio

For those who have been following along with me for a while you will be familiar with the evolution of my studio space (documented on Snapchat back in the day!). It started on a random weekend about 2 years ago. I had just 5 weddings booked that summer and I was bored (seriously, just don’t give me free time). I had a quick thought that I would love to have a little studio space to work on flowers. I said to Dan: ‘HEY! That barn at the end of the driveway is kind of cute! Will you help me clean it?’. Dan, being Dan, agreed and there went our next 8 weekends.

We removed all of the cabinets and junk (it was previously a car workshop), tore out the upstairs floor, painted the walls white, and hung a bunch of mirrors that are probably way too valuable to be hanging in a barn (I just really like mirrors, ok?!). While it isn’t perfect yet – the floor gets wet when it rains and I’m itching to give the walls a second coat of white paint – it definitely does the trick and has given me a place to ‘hang my hat’ or, more accurately, my vases and candleholders.

Since I am now happy with the inside, this year I am shifting my focus to the outdoor space. Woohoo! The back patio is crumbling and the front entry could use a little something pretty. So, with 2018 as the year for my studio landscape, I wanted to start off with a fun and manageable project. Something that would make a big impact, not take too much time, and start me off on the right foot to take on more projects in my little space. A seasonal planter was the perfect thing. Seasonal planters provide a nice pop of colour and are so simple to make. I’ve made SO MANY seasonal planters for family members and Clients but this planter is the first one I’ve made for myself. I’m pretty excited about it!

How to Make Summer Planters

I’ve teamed up with The Home Depot Canada, who has a SERIOUS planter and plant selection, to show you how to make summer planters. Everything I used to create this planter came from The Home Depot Canada. This is a project that any skill level of gardener can take on, it can be tailored to suit the style of your home, and can be completed in an afternoon (shopping included!). It’s the perfect long weekend project!

How to make a Summer Planter

Pegboard for Garden Tools

Pruning Shears, Hand Trowel, and Rake all by Garant and from The Home Depot Canada

Knowing the Basics: Annual vs Perennial

So, first things first, let’s lay the groundwork! I get asked a lot about the difference between annual vs perennial plants. Annuals are plants that you plant each year and are hardy for just one season. At the end of the season you will pull them out of your garden/planter, discard them, and replace them with new plants that are appropriate for the next season. This is different from perennials which are planted once and come back year after year.

When it comes to decorating a seasonal planter I typically use annuals. Annuals are most appropriate for a seasonal planter because they are just that – seasonal! Unlike perennials which typically just flower for a few weeks each year, annuals flower all throughout their entire season which is just what you want in a decorative seasonal planter. The annuals I plant now will still be producing flowers well into the fall.  So, long story short, when you go to the garden centre to shop for your summer planter, head to the section called ‘Annuals’!

Knowing The Basics: When to Plant Annuals

Next, what is the right time to plant your summer planter? In Ontario, we always talk about planting on the ‘May 2-4 weekend’. Did you know that this isn’t just a marketing scheme to get you out to the nurseries at the start of the season? This is actually a date when we know the risk of frost is no longer present. Frost kills annuals and damages newly planted perennials – the May long weekend is our ‘safe date’. If you push the season and plant your planter before the risk of frost has passed, be sure to monitor the weather and cover your annuals with a bag to give them an added layer of protection if it looks like there is a potential for overnight frost.

How to make a Summer Planter

Summer Planters: What you Need

  • Planter -I selected this large planter because I loved how big it was and the ring detail but I also considered the Fairfield and the Craftswood Planter for this location. The Home Depot Canada has so many planters and all at seriously reasonable prices!
  • Plants – Obviously! See below for how I select annuals.
  • Soil – A basic triple mix potting soil is great – the bags that I got from The Home Depot Canada were around $2 each and I needed 3 bags for a planter of this size.
  • A Trellis – Only necessary if you select a climbing vine for your planter.
  • A Watering Can – Keeping your planter hydrated is key!
  • A Hand Trowel & Gardening Gloves – They make moving the soil around a bit easier as well as hand cleaning afterwards!

Yellow Petunias

Choosing Your Plants

I separate plants into 3 categories: Tall, mounding, and cascading. Selecting plants in all 3 categories makes for an interesting planter with layers of plants. Below are some example plants for these 3 broad categories. All of these plants were available at The Home Depot Canada location closest to me along with sooo many more.

Tall Annuals (Focal)

choose 1 variety and get just 1 plant of that variety

  • Clematis – A climbing vine and what I used in my planter. Clematis is actually a perennial but at the end of the season I will plant this one in my garden to enjoy for years to come
  • Mandevilla – a climbing vine as well which comes in white and pink
  • Hibiscus – a flowering shrub with a small tree form

Mounding Annuals

choose 1-3 varieties and get a minimum of 3 of each variety

Cascading Annuals

choose 1-3 varieties and get a minimum of 3 of each variety

*Designer Tip* Repeated use of like plant elements around your planter is what will make your planter pleasing to the eye. If you are using a smaller planter, opt for fewer varieties but more plants of each variety.

Tips for Choosing Your Plants

  1. Pick a colour scheme. I like to keep it simple and stick to just 2 or 3 colours.
  2. Always buy more than you think you need! Your plants will have plenty of space to grow their roots downward so feel free to pack them in tightly.
  3. Keep an open mind! When I went shopping for plants I didn’t have a set plan. I just knew that I wanted to find plants in each of the 3 height categories so my planter would have layers of plants. Pick whatever works nicely together and you are going to enjoy watching grow throughout the season!

How to make a Summer Planter - Purple Clematis

How To Make A Summer Planter

1. Pick Your Location

Place your planter in the selected location and fill the planter with soil. Ensure that your selected location receives adequate sunlight for the plant varieties you have selected.

2. Plant Your Focal Plant First

You want to have your tallest element (your focal) in the centre of your planter and get lower with the plants as you work your way closer to the perimeter of the planter.  For me this was the clematis. As noted above, in most cases you will only need 1 central plant. However, since this planter was large I opted for 2 clematis but planted them with the intention that as they grow together they will visually appear as one (which, thanks to the trellis, they are already doing!). If your central item is climbing, consider adding a trellis so that it can grow taller.

How to make a Summer Planter

3. Add Your Mid-Height Plants

These are your mounding plants. For me this was a mix of soft pink petunias, yellow calibrachoa (which is actually cascading as well but these plants are so lush that they fill the role of a mounding plant too) and a pink variegated coleus. With the calibrachoa I opted to buy a large hanging plant and carefully separate and split it into the smaller individual plants as opposed to buying multiple smaller plants to start. The hanging baskets were just too healthy and full to pass up!

4. Add Your Cascading Elements

For me this was an english ivy that I repeated multiple times around the perimeter of the planter. I love ivy because it is just green – having simple green elements adds a sense of calm to your planter. Plant your cascading plants closest to the perimeter and position them so any trailing pieces are falling over the sides of your planter.

5. Water your Planter

Compact the soil by pushing it down with your hands and make sure that all your new plants are securely surrounded by soil. Water is the most important thing to keep your new planter thriving! Newly transplanted plants need a lot of water to settle into their new environment. Give your planter a watering right away and leave it be to let it grow!

How to make a Summer Planter

How to make a Summer Planter

Ta Da!

How to make a Summer Planter

Caring For Your Seasonal Planter

The great thing about seasonal planters is that they are quite low maintenance. Sunlight and water is really all they need to grow and thrive. In the hot summer, water your planter in the morning to give your plant a chance to hydrate before the afternoon sun comes out. Giving your planter a water based fertilizer every few weeks such as the Miracle-Gro All Purpose Liquid Concentrate will further help your plants bloom and multiply. Finally, when a flower is finished and dries up, pinch off any dead growth – this will encourage your plants to regenerate new growth. Like with any living thing, a little bit of love goes a long way when it comes to caring for your plants and flowers! I hope you have learned how to make a summer planter and take on your own gardening project this season. Enjoy the summer!

Purple Clematis

This Clematis was such a show stopper…how could I resist?!

How to make a Summer Planter

How to make a Summer PlanterHow to make a Summer Planter           How to make a Summer Planter

This post is sponsored by The Home Depot Canada. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words.

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  1. […] How to Make a Seasonal Summer Planter […]

  2. Justine says:

    Love this, this is great! I moved out to California recently and got so into planting. It’s relaxing and really freshens a space up!

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