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Past Articles Library | Container Gardening

Changing a Simple Table into a Planted Table


As every gardener knows, sometimes those wonderful planted containers get turned over by the wind when they are sitting on a table but can a gardener do?  Well, the answer is simple and that is to create a “planted table.”

To begin this process, one must first consider the table that they would like to use.  A solid plastic table is one of the easiest to manipulate.  Wooden tables that are a solid piece of wood is the next easiest while wooden tables made of slats are the hardest. 

After you have your table picked out, the next step is to consider the container.  For this project one will need a pot that has some type of lip.  This is very important since this will help hold the container in the hole.

Now that you have picked your table and pot, the next step is to process the table of choice.  To do this, pick the area by which you would like your container.  The simplest area to place your container is in the center but you are not limited to that area.  If you choose an area beyond the center, make sure that the new location will not make the table unstable.

The next step is to outline the container on the table.  This is done by flipping the container upside down and tracing the shape.  Then, repeat the tracing so that it is in about ½ inch.  This reduced size will allow the container to fall down into the hole while being held up by the rim.

After the container has been traced, the next step involves cutting out the pattern.  This can be done with a hole saw regardless of the material the table is made of.  After the hole has been cut, sand the area with another piece of plastic if the table is plastic or sandpaper if the table is wood.  Finish off the table with a finish that is appropriate for the material.

Once the table is done, the next step in this process is to prepare the container.  What this simply means is to clean and sterilize the container.  After that is done, place drainage material in the bottom of the container, fill with soil, plant, and place in the hole.

If you want to go beyond a monoculture type of planting design, consider these simple hints to create a show stopping container garden. 

  • Variety is important when it comes to designing a container garden.  To aid in construction, divide the plant material into thrillers, fillers, and spillers.  Thrillers are the focal point of the arrangement or where you want the eye to go.  Fillers, on the other hand, are those plants that are between the size of the thriller and spiller.  They are used to disguise the appearance of the soil and base of the thriller.  They are also that connection between the thriller and spiller.  Spillers are those plants that fill in the vertical space down the container.  In this design though, spillers can be a challenge since they will lie on the table.  To control this growth, prune back the spiller when needed. 
  • Plant by the numbers.  When planting a container garden, follow this simple rule.  Never plant singular plantings, instead plant in groups.  Odd numbers are a golden rule dedicated by nature and should be followed when designing a container garden.  Planting by threes, fives, and sevens will present a more spectular display than planting an assortment of little solider plants. 
  • Symmetry is not necessary when designing this type of plantings and as a matter of fact, looks better if not planted on center.
  • If the planter is going to be in the center of the table, check the height of the chosen thriller material.  As in floral design, you do not want the material to be so tall that it blocks the view from across the table.  Also, you do not want the plantings so wide that the view is also blocked.
  • Plant plants that have similar growth requirements.  What this means is to plant plants that require direct sunlight together and plants that require shade together.  Do not mix.
  • Pick both colors and textures that go with the table.  If you need a little help, consider using a color wheel.
  • To reduce the mess that watering can cause, consider adding a hydrogel to the soil prior to planting.  This substance is relatively invisible and absorbs water that is later released when the plants need it.
  • If you are a forgetful gardener, also consider mixing in a slow release fertilizer or using fertilizer spikes.  Either approach will save you on having to remember to feed your plants.

Looking for some other ideas for you planted table?  If you are using a large container, consider filling with an assortment of greens.  This will allow your guests to “pick” their own salad.  Looking for a natural perfume for your garden space, consider planting your container with aromatic herbs such as lavender, mint, basil, thyme, and scented geraniums.   Invite your guests to rub their fingers over the herbs to release the aroma.

If you have enough of the rim showing, think about painting it with a paint that glows in the dark.  This will allow the planter to be seen in the dark and will guide your guests into where they can place their glasses and/or plates.  It will also add another design element to the landscape as the painted containers can be seen from other parts of the landscape compared to night cloaked planted pot.

Creating this planted table will allow ones container gardens to remain on the table even during the strongest winds but one word of caution.  Prior to cutting out your design, make sure that the hole will not affect the strength of the table.  Nothing is worse than the catastrophe of your guests’ plates and/or drinks falling off the table or the beautiful container garden going through the table.


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Low Light House Plants

Many plants thrive on very little light, making them ideal for those parts of your house that are not well lit.

A couple good choices for areas without lots of light are:

Chinese Evergreen

For more information about this, watch our video on low light houseplants in the video tips section!

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