Tuesday, September 24, 2013

8 Rules for Storefront Permaculture

This planter is in front of a local nursery. The sweet potato
vine jumps out at you! 

A flower bed or pot in front of a store is one of best ways to advertise. The splash of living color is refreshing and can compete with flashing neon. A traditional permaculturist might say that you can't have sustainability unless it involves food and at least a couple of acres.

I say poppycock!

The large clusters of flowers in bold colors jumps out at you
more than smaller flowers or milder colors.

Anything sustainable must be tuned to the needs of the system it is supporting. In the case of the storefront, sustainability must be focused on bringing in and satisfying the needs of the paying customer.

Two pots at a local nursery. The small pot
works because it accents the larger one. The
leaves of the sweet potato are edible through-
out the growing season!

In other words, it needs to look pretty. That doesn't mean it can't have vegetables or herbs. It just means that they have to be good looking. Here are a few tips to making storefront pots sustainable for your business:

  1. Get a big enough pot. Minimum should be at least 18" wide and the same as deep. If you really want to make an impression two feet or larger is better. Rectangular planters are great for fitting into narrow areas and still giving you great displays.
  2. Pick plants that are the right size and give you lots of bright color. I love green foliage plants, but they do not attract as many customers from a distance.
  3. Don't forget texture, especially if you can't get enough color. An interesting mix of textures works well if your potential client is up close.
  4. Fertilize appropriately. Organic fertilizers may not work well because of smell, but a little slow release, pellet type fertilizer like Osmocote can work wonders and still be environmentally safe. Other brands now make similar products.
  5. Get plants that drape over the sides of the pot as well as some height in the center. Vining petunias and chartreuse sweet potato are perfect drapers.
  6. Space plants about six inches apart. This is tight, but it will make your pots look like they are bursting with color.
  7. Water, water, water! The smaller the pot, the more often you will need to water. Make sure you saturate the soil in the summer. You may even need to water twice a day. Check how much water is in the pot by sticking a probe eight inches or more into the soil.
  8. Top off the soil mix every season and completely change it every few years if you have smaller pots. Intensive gardening is rough on soil and will wear it out quickly.

This pot has lots of details for close up inspection, but it is so
small it will need very frequent watering in Utah's hot, dry

Remember, a little color will go a long way to help your business be sustainable for you and your employees!


  1. Any tips on winter storefront gardening?

  2. Besides, plants do more than provide food. They also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and filter pollutants from the air. That's important in places with parking lots in my opinion.