Annual Flower Research at Bluegrass Lane, Ithaca, New York
2015 mixed container trial
Small gardens are big! From Millennials to aging Boomers, consumers are turning more and more to gardens that can thrive in small spaces with minimal care. They are also increasingly interested in growing their own food; edibles are most definitely “in.”
With interest in small-scale, multi-functional gardens continuing to grow, we decided to experiment with mixed vegetable, herb, and ornamental containers. Partnering with Cheni Filios, Production Line Manager at PanAmerican Seed Company, we put together several dozen large (14”) containers and presented them at Cornell University’s annual Floriculture Field Day on August 11.
PanAmerican Seed Company donated most of the vegetable and herb varieties. Ornamentals were selected from among the varieties submitted for our annual trials or from donations by Baker’s Acres and Dickman Farms in upstate NY.
Click on images for larger view.
What happens when elements are out of balance.
This container is an example of what can happen when one element has a more aggressive growth habit than the others. Te petunia in this pot completely overpowers the pepper and basil.
The tomato in this container cannot compete with the Lobelia and Scaevola.
In this combination of plants the petunia dominates the pot, smothering the eggplant
One thing we learned from this trial is that not every combination works perfectly. Some combinations were unsuccessful, with one component overpowering the others as the trio matured. For vegetables, dwarf determinate tomatoes and patio varieties of other vegetables seem to be the best bet. Some vegetables have a shorter container life than others. These plants can be removed after harvesting to let the other varieties continue to show off. Having seen the results of this trial - the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly - we look forward to further experiments with vegetable, herb, and ornamental combinations in the coming year. Stay tuned for future tips for successful mixed vegetable and ornamental (MVO) container gardening!
Horticulture Section, 135 Plant Sciences Bldg, Ithaca, NY 14853 USA, email: email@example.com | 607-255-4568/1789 | Fax, 607-255-9998/0599
© 2007 Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University