Gardening in containers is an awesome idea for any plant grower, not just those with a limited budget or living in an apartment or other small space. It’s the perfect opportunity to let creativity grow, but it also allows for relatively painless change in landscape. So here is a guide to container gardening to get the novice and experienced hobbyist going in this great green thumb option.
Most any plant will do
Annuals, perennials, bulbs and cuttings–all can thrive in a container singly or as a nicely arranged grouping. Visit the seed display at the local hardware store or nursery, and simply pick 2 packets–for example, sweet alyssum and pansies. When these seeds are started inside in small pots in later winter, they will provide a huge number of colorful plants for spring planting singly or in combination. The super-low cost for this much yield is simply amazing.
Some gardeners combine vegetable plants and annuals in a larger container. Others start bulbs, such as cala lillies, indoors and then transplant into a close arrangement in a medium to large sized terra cotta pot for placement outside on a deck or patio.
A nice way to contain the spread of thriving perennials such as black-eyed susans is to keep them in pots instead of planting them right into a garden bed where they tend to take over and dominate. Then place the containers in areas of the garden which need color and interest provided by these yellow and black beauties.
Maintain the plants routinely
The key to any healthy container is great care. Allow the container arrangement to dry almost completely before adding water. Feed with a 1/4 or 1/2 strength water soluble fertilizer (15-30-15) every 2 weeks or so, and make sure that the soil remains loose and aerated to 6 inches from the top of the pot. Dead head in a way similar to plants in the ground.
Containers choices are many
Better Homes and Gardens and other gardening websites recommend a wide array of materials which are suitable for pots. Beginning with the most familiar, they are:
Terra Cotta: An old standby, terra cotta pots are relatively inexpensive, heavy and have that beautiful light rust color which works well with any garden color scheme. Yes, terra cotta can break, but remember, broken pieces can be used as drainage pieces in another container.
Plastic: Light and usually durable if of good quality, plastic containers come in a crazy variety of shapes and colors. With repeated exposure to weather extremes, however, plastic tends to become brittle. So be cautious with placement.
Wood: Whether cedar, hardwood or pine, wooden containers are sturdy and heavy enough to withstand wind and weather. Line them with plastic to help reduce rot.
Metal: Zinc and copper are common metals used in plant containers. Metal can be fashioned into many shapes and designs. One problem is the amount of heat metal holds when placed in the sun. The increased temperature promotes root rot in many plants; so be careful when putting a metal container. Move it, if possible, when it is receiving too much direct sun.
Recycled materials: This is where creativity flourishes. Hollowed out grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange halves make awesome seed starting containers. Then place the young plants, fruit peel and all, directly into a larger container or right into the ground. Also, a drive into the country or densely populous urban area yields idea after idea for second use plant containers. Old metal watering cans and wash tubs, rubber rain boots, or whatever pains the green-conscious individual if it is thrown away–all these, with proper plant maintenance in mind, can be suited to container gardening. Creative, budget friendly and environmentally friendly–reused items fit all these categories exceptionally well.
The options are fantastic
Even if a gardener has the perfect landscape, indoors and out can always benefit from the many creative options presented by container gardening. It’s a first rate way to make large or small green space really outstanding and unique.