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William Moss has loved nature and the outdoors since childhood. Gardening is just an extension of that passion. The effects of his gardening efforts on the local ecosystem were intriguing and inspiring. His gardens provided nectar for swallowtails and skippers, shelter for carpenter bees and writing spiders, and an endless supply of voles and rabbits for the neighborhood red tailed hawk. On his websites, www.garden.org/urbangardening & www.wemoss.org , he chronicles the challenges of gardening in a city and discusses horticultural techniques. William also covers a wide array of "greening" topics ranging from soil contamination and remediation to eco-friendly pest management to the intricacies of native habitats. To comprehend and better explain the complex life-webs right outside his door, William enrolled in the extramural Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences program offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. His focus is on creating wildlife corridors in urban areas. Concurrently, he has sought out opportunities to be involved in local environmental projects. While at the Chicago Department of the Environment, he worked with WRD, an environmental construction company, at North Park Village Nature Center. William supervised Greencorps crews and volunteers and they removed invasive plants and replaced them with native trees, shrubs, and perennials. At this point William began to focus more on presenting lectures, and he joined the Chicago Botanic Garden as an environmental educator.

How To Plant Container Perennials

Master gardener William Moss demonstrates how to plant perennials in containers.

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William Moss: Annuals are the only plants suited for potting, perennials can bring most of colorful flowers, and decorative foliage to containers. We're going to pot up some perennials that will look great year after year.

Perennials are good choice for containers because they offer several different benefits. One, they have lots of fragrant flowers, secondly they have interested foliage. Things aren't always going to be in flower, but if you got interested and you need foliage that needs the containers going to look good even when the plants are out of flower.

Once you've got your plants, then you need a container. So get you a nice, decorative container and it needs to have drainage holes in it. Second thing you want to get is something to sort of fill the bottom up. You don't need that much soil all the way down. So all that you do is use a filler, that way I won't have to use so much soil and so much dirt to fill it up. Now we got to add soil. Once you got your pot filled with your potting mix, now it's time to add your plants.

And we're going to choose today to go with a big bright colorful mix. We're going to use the flax. So now we've got good balance with those two, but we need more color, so let's throw in a violet, and one thing that I always like to do when I'm potting up, is throw in an edible. Now I've got a beautiful flower combination here, but I still need that one more edible and I'm going to drop in a tomato here on the backside.

As these guys start to fade away, my tomato will come up and fill the space, give me both colorful flowers and fruits that I can snack on all through the summer. Now that I've got him in, just a matter of putting in some more potting soil, give him a good soak in and you're finished.

Perennials come back every year and with that beautiful flowers and foliage, they make great container plants. Get out and grow!