With less and less time to maintain gardens, containers are becoming more and more popular as an alternative to mass gardening. Not everyone has time for full-fledged gardens, which is why container gardening just hits the spot.

Any container that can hold soil can become a planter, as long as it has adequate drainage. When planting, choose soil that is specifically designed for container gardens. Select plants that require the same light conditions, soil type, fertilizer and, most importantly, watering conditions.

To get an early start, embrace the cool-weather season with a hardy collection of flowering and foliage varieties. Seek out a unique collection of cold hardy plants, preferably those bred to perform well in containers which may like to spend the latter part of summer in the garden and overwinter for the following season. Once their peak season has passed, replace with heat-tolerant annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs.

Looking for a water feature without the work? Before committing to a permanent pond, try growing a mini-aquatic garden.

Once you move to the outdoors, a low water bowl is the perfect way to get a water works fix without the added work of creating a full-scale pond.

Start with a waterproof container, preferably a low-glazed bowl large enough to accommodate plants. Choose containers that are darker in colour to add depth to your mini pond.

Place your planter in an area of your garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Choose oxygenating plants such as anacharis or egeria densa to clean the water and supply oxygen.

For emerging plants, try the spiraling juncus effusus or corkscrew rush.

Plant aquatic plants such as water lilies for their showy flowers and fragrance.

To finish off the water surface, add water hyacinths (eichhornia crassipes) for its balloon-like petioles and spikes of pale lavender flowers.

Complete the feature with natural elements of goldfish (remember to bring fish indoors for the winter), a fountain and rocks for balance.

For condo balcony gardens, try creating a perennial garden in a container. Complement low-mounding ground covers of sedum and dianthus with medium-filling plants such as heart-leaved bergenia (bergenia cordifolia), an easy spring perennial with large glossy leaves.

Begin your planter with tall upright flowing grasses, such as purple fountain grass (pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’), in the centre of your planter.

The many colours and textures of perennials add interest and drama. Since perennials tend to need less maintenance than annuals, they require less dead heading and are generally hardier and more forgiving plants.

Perennials often still show at the end of the season. Remember to plant these in the ground to enjoy the following season.

Kitchen container combos are another excellent choice to have potted close to the barbecue. Try creating your own mixed planter with your family’s favourite savouries.

This spring, create your own container garden oasis. Experiment with colourful container combinations. Amuse yourself with the various textures, foliages and colours of the wide varieties of annual and perennials plants and create your own dramatic potted oasis.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. She is the owner and founder of Northern Elegance. Contact her at [email protected]