Some consider container gardening the silver medal—consolation for those that can’t afford a full-fledged garden. That’s true. But that’s a shallow view. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.
Container grown plants allow greater design flexibility than plants growing in the ground. You can simply rearrange some containers and create a whole new design.
Container plants enable us to savor the benefits of biophilia in indoor spaces. They also help beautify those dreary, hard-to-fill spots in both interior and exterior locations. And there are plenty of container gardening ideas that can put full-fledged gardens to shame.
Container gardening is both easier and less work than growing plants in the garden. If you’re new to it or have some reservations, follow these 5 tips for creating beautiful, healthy container gardens:
5 Container Gardening Tips to Build a Container Garden
1. Choose the right containers
The container’s color and shape are obviously important from a design perspective. You should definitely put due time and thought into it. Your top considerations, however, should be whether it’s spacious enough, has ample drainage and is the right material.
A container should be large and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s mature spread and root system. It should also have sufficient drainage holes at the bottom. The drainage holes should be at least half an inch wide. Any smaller, and they face the risk of getting clogged by soil.
When it comes to container material, you have plenty of choices. Terra-cotta, stone, ceramic, plastic, and wood are some of the most popular ones.
Before you make a decision, consider the plant’s weight, the container’s intended location, and the environmental conditions. The container needs to be heavier than the plant it houses. Plastic containers run the risk of getting deformed in warm, bright locations. Terra-cotta absorbs water, so the plants may require more frequent watering.
Don’t forget to consider the amount of safety your plant requires. If your plant is fragile, choose a sturdy, heavy container that won’t get toppled by accidental nudges or strong wind.
2. Provide container plants the ideal soil
Can you use garden soil for containers? You may, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Garden soil can turn into a hard mass when it dries. Go with good quality commercially available potting soil. If you feel the need to improve the soil, simply mix in a good amount of compost, shredded leaves, or decomposed manure.
Most plants do well in soils that have good drainage and high nutrient content. There are, however, some that are too particular. Always check your plants’ specific soil requirements. Your potting soil should have the right pH. If it needs additional nutrients, make sure you supply the same.
Adding fresh compost and some slow-release fertilizer is a simple way of enriching the soil. You can also fertilize container plants between 2-6 weeks of planting them. All-purpose fertilizers contain nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and manganese. If your goal is to boost fruit or flower production, use a fertilizer with high potassium or phosphorus content.
3. Only select healthy plants
All plants for container gardens should be healthy and free from pests and diseases. That means no sign of rot at the base or stem of your cuttings. Make sure you check the foliage, including the underside of the leaves for any signs of pests or diseases.
Learn to identify healthy bulbs. A bulb’s color and feel are good indicators of its health. The bulb shouldn’t look dry or shriveled or have discolored patches. If it’s mushy or soft in some parts, it’s likely infected.
Unhealthy or infected cuttings and bulbs have a low chance of survival. They can also transmit pests and infections to other plants.
When you’re looking to buy live plants, only trust reputed suppliers and check for signs of disease or infection before planting.
4. Find your container plants the perfect location
Your container plants should be placed in locations that provide the right type and amount of light they need. Some sun-loving plants dislike direct light. Some require direct sunlight for up to 5-6 hours a day. Make sure to check the plant’s specific light needs before deciding its spot in your garden.
One of the most wonderful things about plant containers is that they’re easy to move around. As such, there are plenty of ways to incorporate them in different settings.
Got a sunny space but want to include some shade loving plants? Move containers with shade loving plants under taller shrubs or trees.
Got some new or weak-stemmed container plants and windy conditions? Place the containers next to broad trees, larger containers or walls that can shield them.
5. Supply the right amount of water in the right way
Container gardening success depends upon identifying your plants’ water requirements and fulfilling them the right way. Container grown plants typically need to be watered more often than plants growing in the soil. That’s because they only have access to a limited amount of soil and moisture.
I’d recommend you check on your container plants regularly. If the surface of the soil feels dry, supply water. The best way to water container plants is to completely saturate the soil.
If the soil absorbs all the water in 15 minutes, supply more. On the other hand, if there’s water standing above the soil surface after 15 minutes; expel the excess water. This will give you a good estimate of a particular container plant’s water requirements. Note that these may vary with the weather.
Water the plants during daytime while there’s at least a couple of hours’ daylight left. This will allow the soil to sufficiently dry up before the sunset. Also, make sure to supply water at the soil level and avoid wetting the plants’ foliage.
The presence of moisture in the foliage can attract insect pests and your plants definitely don’t need their affections.
All 5 of these container gardening tips seem pretty simple and easy to employ, don’t they? That’s all you need to do to create a healthy, beautiful container garden of your own. So, wait no more, get to it right now.