Container Gardening for Native Plants  

By Alexandria Yurosko, Marketing Content Manager

At the Nature Center, we recognize the importance of native plants and strive to educate our community about how to best grow and care for them. We want to make native gardening accessible, regardless of yard size. One way to bring the beauty of native plants closer to home is through container gardening. This method allows everyone from gardening enthusiasts to plant novices to cultivate a thriving ecosystem of native plants in their space – whether they have a sprawling backyard or a small balcony or even a sunny window! 

Choosing Native Plants: 

Selecting the right native plants is crucial for a successful container garden. Some native plants that can thrive in containers include 

  • Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) 
  • Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) 
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) 
  • Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia) 
  • Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica) 

Combining Plants for Your Container: 

When arranging native plants in containers, consider their individual needs and growth habits. Pair plants with similar water and sunlight requirements to ensure harmonious coexistence. For example: 

  • Shade-Loving Duo: Combine Wild Geranium and Fringed Bleeding Heart in a shady spot 
  • Pollinator Haven: Create a container with Cardinal Flower and Columbine to attract and nourish pollinators such as hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. 
  • Woodland Retreat: Virginia Bluebell and Wild Geranium make a perfect combination for a woodland-inspired container garden. 

Container Gardening How-To’s: 

Follow these simple steps to create a thriving container garden for native plants: 

  1. Choose the Right Containers: Opt for containers with good drainage to prevent waterlogged soil. Terra cotta or ceramic pots work well for our climate. 
  1. Use Quality Potting Mix: Invest in a high-quality potting mix (like Tilth Soil from our friends at Rust Belt Riders) with added organic matter to provide essential nutrients for your plants. 
  1. Watering: Native plants generally prefer consistent moisture. Water your container garden regularly, especially during dry spells. Mulching can help retain moisture. 
  1. Sunlight Requirements: Place your containers in locations that match the sunlight preferences of the selected plants. Some plants thrive in full sun, while others prefer shade. 

Container gardening with native plants allows us to bring the natural beauty of Northeast Ohio into our own living spaces. By selecting the right plants, combining them thoughtfully, and providing proper care, you can create a thriving mini-ecosystem that celebrates the unique flora of our region. At the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, we encourage everyone to embrace the benefits of native plants by shopping our upcoming plant sale and getting started on your container gardening or transforming your yard to a healthy native plant habitat!