In my years of experience as an avid gardener, I’ve met very few garden-makers who aren’t totally excited about the prospect of growing plants. The fact that these plants come in every single shape, size, color, and smell you can possibly think of means you have a seemingly endless list of options to choose from.
However, sometimes, such choices can overpower both new and proficient gardeners alike. Add in drifting trends, agricultural jargons, and changing climates, and you’ve got yourself one big puzzle to piece together.
While I admit that planting isn’t always easy (if it was you wouldn’t be reading this blog), it isn’t altogether too difficult to wrap one’s head around either. In fact, I believe that each and every one of us has what it takes to grow a flourishing garden- irrespective of the experience you bring you to the table.
If you’re just starting out and fancy your chances at growing a green thumb, then container gardening might be just the right thing for you. From aromatic plants to vibrant flowers and fresh produce, container gardening is an extremely satisfying way to experience the flavor and freshness of a home-grown garden. What’s more, it’s equally rewarding too.
Kicking Off Your Container Gardening Project – Let’s start with the basics first.
Container gardening is easier to manage and takes a lot less space as you can precisely manage just how much you want to grow. However, before you decide the type of plants you want to grow and the type of containers you want to grow them in, it’s important you consider a few basic guidelines at first.
- Pick a sunny spot to set your containers as most plants love to soak up the sun. If this is a challenge in your apartment, then choose plants that respond well in cooler weather. Alternatively, you can also use “sun boxes” – lined with aluminum foil to increase exposure to the sun in low light/ cold areas.
- Make sure the potting soil or mix you buy is organic and is for container gardening.
- Keep your garden adequately hydrated. The key to a healthy garden is to know the difference between plants being adequately hydrated and drenched in water.
- Put moth balls in a mesh bag and hang them from a stick or pole, taking care to ensure they don’t touch the soil. Just as they do when placed in wardrobes, they will drive some common pests away.
Choosing a Container
When it comes to choosing a container, just about anything can be turned into a container. No seriously- from anything that is in the size of a shoe to large cardboard boxes, there is no dearth for planter options in container gardening.
The more soil your container can hold, the more nutrients and water are retained and fed to the plants, and the less frequently you’ll have to water. Another thing to keep in mind is the type of plant you wish to grow. While smaller plants can be housed in small shoe-sized containers, larger ones require more soil and a container that can hold all that soil together. As small pots dry out easily, plants living in these pots too have a tendency to dry out quickly, thus becoming susceptible to pests and disease. Your best bet is to choose a container that houses enough soil space for your plant to thrive.
Another tip is to ensure your container has enough drainage space. This can help prevent clogging of soil, dried leaves, and water. You can also get a little creative and drill a few additional holes (preferably at least 1 inch in thickness) into your container. Here are some household items just waiting for a new life in your garden:
Note: Although the below options work incredibly well as planters, they might need a bit of tweaking before you can use them as containers for your plants. The most important alteration is to drill a medium sized drainage hole (about an inch wide) into the container. This will ensure your plant doesn’t get clogged and has the breathing space it needs to bloom and nurture life.
1. An Old Tea Kettle
Why invest in a container when you have good old tea kettles lying around in your kitchen? They work extremely well to house small flower plants and herbs. What’s more, as most of them come in vibrant colors and motifs; they add just the right amount of sparkle and color to brighten up your garden.
2. Old Biscuit/Cookie/Tea or Coffee Tins
Cookie tins make for great hanging planters. Simply drill a few small holes and you have the perfect nest for your hanging flower basket.
3. An Old Pair of Boots
Yes, you heard me right. A pair of boots makes for an unconventional yet strikingly interesting planter. I suggest you drill a few small holes and secure the plant such that it stays on the surface of the boot for easy access and watering.
Colanders too work well as stand-alone planters. The fact that they comes with plenty of holes saves you the time and energy from drilling extra drainage holes.
5. Old Pop Bottles
Old pop bottles- especially colorful ones – can give your garden a burst of color and character. Simply drill a few tiny holes and plant away.
6. Old Kitchen Sinks and Ovens. Yes Them Too!
Simply drill a few holes into your old kitchen sinks and ovens and you can have enough storage space for your larger plants.
Choosing Your Plants
Once you’ve figured out how much sun you have and have your potting soil and containers ready, it’s time you think of the type of plants you would like to grow. Here are some plants that grow surprisingly well in containers:
1. Hybrid Variety of Figs
Consult your nursery and choose a fruiting fig tree that is known to flourish in containers. Some miniatures like Ficus carica ‘Petite Negra thrives in containers. Bear in mind that they will need more water though.
2. Water Lilies
Water lilies such as “Nymphaea ‘Midnight” grow extremely well in containers. As the name suggests, this plant requires plenty of water. So creating a water bed made from old whisky barrels or so can be your best bet to house the plant.
3. Bonsai Vegetables such as cherry Tomatoes, Baby Sweet Potatoes, and Herbs
Bonsai vegetables, cherry tomatoes, baby potatoes, and herbs can grow surprisingly well in containers. For larger vegetables, you might want to use larger containers.
There’s nothing like having your own home-grown kitchen garden to cook from. Citrus fruits such Meyer lemon grow as shrubs and can thrive in large containers. Make sure you house them in large pots with good drainage and place them under enough sun.
5. Japanese Maples
What if I said you could grow your favorite trees in containers? Well, it’s true. Japanese maples also called Acer palmatum grow slowly but extremely well in containers. Simply plant this tree in a large container with good soil, compost, drainage, and enjoy its spectacular beauty. Do note that you might have to re-pot this tree every few years for optimal life.
Below we’ve found a couple on unique and trendy containers to grow your very own plants in!
Keep your eyes open as these are just a small sample of what’s out there! Even household items like boxes and old jars can become beautiful planters.