Underplanting is an important concept to learn if you want to make the most of your planters and exercise your creativity. While the walls of the planter may make you feel like you need to plant only in the center of the pot, or in equal quadrants, underplanting offers a more fluid alternative that you will definitely love.
What is Underplanting?
Underplanting is the practice of planting a variety of complementary plant species in the space beneath a planter’s primary inhabitant. Most often, this is done when there is a strong focal point in the center of the planter, such as a large tree or flowering shrub that dominates the planter. Even with such a plant in the center, it is easy to see that there is plenty of real estate left around the outside of the main trunk, which could be filled with colorful plants instead. That’s where underplanting comes in.
Why is Underplanting a Good Idea?
There are many reasons that underplanting is beneficial to your planters. First and foremost, it gives you more room to express your creativity. You can choose from a selection of ground cover plants, as well as small flowers that add contrasting colors at the base of your primary plant. You can use seashells, rocks and other decor to create artistic designs amid these smaller plants, or you can add vines that you can train to flow out of the planter, covering part of the side in a cascade of colorful blooms. There are tons of possibilities for using this space to expand upon your floral design concepts.
In addition, underplanting can help keep your planters healthier by giving you the ability to mix and match plants that return important nutrients to the soil. Plus, by covering up the exposed soil with a thick cover, you are ensuring that it doesn’t dry out as fast. The extra cover protects the soil from wind and sun, which erodes its quality over time.
Underplanting Techniques to Try
One way to transform your planters year round is with the help of spring bloom bulbs. For the majority of the year, these bulbs serve the purpose of covering the ground with long green leaves. They tend to look like decorative grasses to the untrained eye. However, they really shine when the seasons change. They can fill out the planter with colorful blooms when all of your other plants are still in hibernation. If you’re tired of having dead-looking planters during the cool months of the year, underplanting with bulbs can bring things back to life.
If you’re interested in adding some texture and layering to your planters, you should start looking into low growing shade-friendly shrubs. Hostas and ferns are often placed closest to the base of the primary tree because they are able to thrive in that environment, and they will grow upward just enough to cover a portion of the tree trunk with lush greenery. As you move outward toward the edges of the planter in concentric circles, you can add plants that grow lower to the ground, including annuals that you can easily maintain and replace when necessary. Thus, the core of your planter is multi-dimensional, while the outer edges are accented with bits of color.
There are dozens of great underplanting examples available online, and your local nursery is able to help you find plant species that are especially hearty for this purpose. With underplanting, you have even more canvas to bring your garden art to life. To learn more about creating picturesque underplanting, check out all our products or visit our photo gallery for more ideas!