A Budding Designer

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


A Budding Designer

Kids are natural designers: they have a great eye for color and a knack for putting plant combinations together. They love to try new things.

They may not be ready for whole-garden design, but flowerpots are just the right size for kids taking an interest in gardening. They’re easy to plant and fun to take care of.

pink supertunias

My next-door neighbor Stella and I planted a couple of flower pots together this year. Stella is only six, but we have collaborated on garden projects before, and I happen to know that she is very big on pink, so I rounded up some splashy new pink plants and some reliable favorites, and set up a potting area on the front porch.

Garden designers need the right tools, even if they’re only six years old.

potting spot with plants and pots

— Kids love annual flowers. Annuals are usually already in bloom when you buy them and they keep blooming all summer long. Just when one flower starts to fade, two or three more open up, which is exactly the performance that encourages young gardeners and keeps flowerpots looking good.

— Kids naturally stick their noses in flowers, so it’s a good idea to suggest something fragrant, too.

— Medium-sized pots are a good choice for kids; pots 16-18 inches in diameter have room for half a dozen plants, hold enough soil to support the plants for a season, and are big enough to survive an occasional lapse in the watering routine. Small pots can get lost in the rush and tumble of summer, and they tip over too easily.

— Fresh potting soil and a slow-release fertilizer get plants off to a good start. Potting soil drains well, but it also retains moisture, which is important in hot summer temperatures. Annual flowers, especially, need lots of nutrients to keep blooming. Slow-release fertilizer (look for an organic formula) will maintain a long bloom.

stella’s cottage garden

For her two flowerpots, Stella came up with a basic cottage garden design, starting with pink ‘Flamingo’ supertunias and a Superbells calibrachoa hybrid called ‘Pomegranate Punch’. We squeezed in some sunny yellow marigolds and three soft blue ageratum. I thought the combination was worthy of a romantic English garden designer. Stella decided where the plants would go in the pots, clustering the ageratums on the side with the pink supertunias and the marigolds with ‘Pomegranate Punch’. I planted a pot with almost the same flowers, choosing an orange ‘Profusion’ zinnia instead of marigolds and a deep blue verbena instead of ageratum. My pot looks pretty good, too.

another example, with zinnias

After we planted the pots, we watered everything in. I had lined up a couple of watering cans as flashy as our flowers, and Stella filled them halfway with water, so they wouldn’t be too heavy.


I wasn’t a bit surprised when our young designer went straight for the pink one.

stella waters her flowers