Kathy Daugherty has created a colorful, movable flower garden in the backyard of her Bowlds Court home.

It's one of the many benefits that she's discovered over the years with potted flowers.

"They're transportable; wherever you want to put them," Daugherty said. "You can't do that with a garden."

Some are in decorative pots while others are in plain, plastic buckets that used to be home to trees.

But the noticeable difference is their size, which allows the flowers room to grow.

"The trick to pots is the size," Daugherty said. "Get the biggest container they make."

Although Daugherty, 64, is a retired pharmacist, her passion has always been for gardening -- a love and a skill she learned from her father and grandmother while growing up in Huntsville, Alabama.

Over time, she developed a fascination with planting flowers in pots instead of directly into the earth.

"One reason I got interested in pots is because a lot of plants don't come around early and you mess up their growing cycle if you start digging around too soon," she said. "You want to get out there in March and play but you'll tear so many plants up. I wait to see what's come up."

She's accumulated at least 50 large pots that decorate her back patio with her cockscomb varieties that are in full bloom. She also uses the pots as a nursery for daylilies.

Daugherty said she prefers the cockscomb not only for the color but because it doesn't require much water and it reseeds itself. She also makes sure that the pots have holes to allow the water to drain.

"Think drought-tolerant," Daugherty said. "Cockscomb is very drought tolerant. I'm going to quit watering them this month and what makes it, makes it and what doesn't, doesn't."

That means watering such plants must be monitored. Too much or too little makes a difference.

Daugherty said she wants her soil to be moist to the touch.

"A lot of people who start this process don't realize how much water is enough," Daugherty said. "The only way to tell is to feel your soil."

Soil is another key ingredient.

Daugherty said not just any soil will do.

She recommends light and airy soil.

"When I go to buy dirt, I pick up the bag and if it's too heavy your plant's not going to grow in it," she said. "…If your plant's not growing, pull it up and check the roots. If they're brown, you got bad dirt. The quality of your dirt is so important."

As far as fertilizing, Daugherty doesn't have any specific type or brand.

"I use an all-purpose fertilizer," she said. "I try to fertilize once a month; sometimes twice a month. Your flowers are going to be bigger; your blooms; your leaves; they're all going to be bigger."

For Daugherty, potted flowers are cost-effective and do not require as much maintenance as ground gardens.

"You don't have to buy expensive pots," she said. "A lot of mine cost $5 or less. But they work."

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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