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Strawberry Jars Offer "Holey" Opportunities
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Strawberry jars can be the focal point of your porch, patio or deck. Before you're distracted by visions of tiny plants in glass jelly jars, let me explain what a strawberry jar is.
A strawberry jar is a terra-cotta pot with fairly large holes around it. They come in 1, 2, 3 and 5 gallon sizes. Many of you pass them by because those holes look like more of a problem than a wonderful opportunity, or you have no intention of planting strawberries.
The strawberry jar can become just the tool for you to create a masterpiece that will be the envy of all your neighbors.
Buy a strawberry jar -- preferably a large one. Buy a bag of the finest potting soil that is light, fluffy and full of vermiculite or perlite. Choose 4-inch blooming plants with various qualities -- different textures, growth patterns and flower sizes. Pick out some for green color like an ivy or asparagus fern.
Fill your jar with the soil until it reaches the bottom of the first holes. As you prepare to place the first plants, you will quickly notice that a 4-inch potted plant will not fit in the hole. This is where it really gets fun and lets you have a mature looking jar fairly quickly.
Plant your 4-inch plant from the inside out. Stick your flowers and foliage gently from the interior of the pot out through the hole. I promise it will work. After you fill up all the bottom holes with plants, add more potting mixture until you reach the next level of holes and plant again. Continue this all the way up until you plant your last set of holes.
Before covering your last plants with potting soil, put in your top plant and then add extra soil.
Some of my favorite plants to use in strawberry jars in the bottom holes are Mexican heather and Dreamland zinnias. I like compact plants at the bottom.
For the second level of holes, I like plants like asparagus fern, periwinkles, begonias, ageratums and marigolds. For the upper layer of holes I like the cascading plants like New Wonder scaevola, Tapien verbena, purple wave petunia or Surfinias and New Gold lantana. All lantanas are well suited to put some place in a strawberry jar because of their heat tolerance.
The top plant can be one that adds more height like a geranium; two or three salvias; or the large double-flowered marigolds like Marvel, Antigua or Discovery.
A strawberry jar is an excellent choice for creating a small herb garden. Fill the holes with oregano, lemon thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, mints, and an erect rosemary on top. These are just a few of the choices. Your garden center is loaded with herbs right now.
And lastly, you can plant strawberries and have a bountiful harvest of cascading red fruit.
Keep your strawberry jar well watered during the warm summer days and feed regularly with a dilute water-soluble fertilizer. By all means, don't pass up the funny jar with all the holes.