@story Marla Cantrell
I don't know how I've done it, but I've lived this long without understanding the basics of planting the perfect container of flowers. This year, I finally got it. And now I'm passing it on to you.
1. Think like Mother Nature. Until this year, I always planted red geraniums, purple petunias, and a little greenery. BORING! This year I went to the nursery and grabbed a few of anything I liked that could take full sun. Yellow Marigolds, Hawaii Blue Ageratum, red Gerbera Daisies, and the ubiquitous Sweet Potato Vine. My biggest score was on the clearance rack, where 6 packs of pansies were going for 25 cents. I figured it they didn't make it through summer, I was only out $2. Buy a lot more than you think you'll need, because you're going to plant tight.
2. Think like a mountain. Mound the dirt up above the rim of your container. This will allow you to really pack the plants in. Start planting at the top, and work your way down. It will get messy, but it's worth it.
3. Think like you're packing for a trip to Europe with only a carry-on. Don't leave any space unplanted. And don't get too caught up in symmetry. This one was hard for me, because I love symmetry, but it looks better if it's not too matchy-matchy.
4. Think like you're in Death Valley. All you'd want is water (and maybe a way out). Your plants will need lots of water to get established, especially when planting in the mound. You want those roots to take. This was just after I planted them. You can see that the pansies were sad little creatures.
And this is today. Since it's getting warmer, I'll check the water level every morning and evening. My porch gets a lot of sun, so I have to be diligent. You may have a more forgiving micro-climate. Just keep a close eye. If our temps rise above 110, like last summer, there won't be any cool spots!
That's it! The down and dirty on container gardening by a new convert. Enjoy!