Container gardens are an amazing way to start your garden, and let you grow plants nearly anywhere and anytime. Whether indoors or out, containers are a great way to expand your garden. There are, however, a few differences when growing in containers and a few things to keep in mind to do so successfully. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best tips for getting started with container gardening.
1. Choose the Right Container
Starting with the right container for your plants is essential as certain plants can affect care. Clay pots, for example, will whisk away water from the soil more quickly than other materials. This means that plants growing in clay pots will often need more water than those not. This can be beneficial in many cases as overwater is often an issue for container bound plants.
Additionally, select containers with good drainage holes. This ensures that excess water has a place to go and won’t be sitting in your container. This sitting water can lead to problems like root rot, so it’s important to have proper drainage.
2. Use Suitable Soil
Proper soil is another important aspect of container gardening. Not all soil is created equally.
To start, always use potting soil designed to be used in containers. Normal garden soil is too compact for containers, and will not have proper drainage. Potting soil is much lighter, and has better drainage that is ideal for containers.
You should also look out for plants that need specific soil blends. Plants like cacti or succulents need a more coarse soil that drains even more quickly than typical potting soil. For plants like these, make sure to go with a cacti specific potting mix.
3. Match Plant Size To Your Container
Your container should reflect the size of your plants. This means placing plants in containers with the expectation that they will grow bigger over the years. Allow your plants some growing space so that you won’t have to constantly transplant them as they mature over time.
In most cases, you want your plant’s root ball to be a few inches smaller than your chosen container. This gives your plant enough room to grow, while not being excessively large.
4. Pick Healthy Plants
It’s always best to start with good looking plants as these give you the best chance for success. This is why it’s always a good idea to select plants from local stores when possible. Select ones that are clearly healthy and free from any pest or disease. Look for plants that have thick and robust growth. Where possible, choose plants that are near mature size over seedlings. This ensures your plants have a stronger chance of survival once transferred into containers.
You can also always grow from seeds. This takes longer, but you can also plant dozens of seeds at once giving you great odds that a few of them survive.
5. Quarantine New Plants
Whenever you purchase new plants, ensure that you keep them isolated for a month or two. This gives you enough time to check for possible pests and diseases. At the same time, you allow your plants to acclimatize to their new environments and settings. There’s nothing worse than bringing a plant home from the nursery, only to realize too late it’s infected with pests.
6. Mix Up Your Plants
Add visual interest to your container by switching up the varieties. Try out planting ones that are of different shapes, sizes, colors, and heights. This means your garden will look good from every angle.
Depending on your container size you can grow multiple plants in it, just make sure you provide enough room and nutrients for all your plants. You can also opt to use multiple containers to prevent any issues with overcrowding.
Tall plants are known as thrillers, whereas medium-sized plants are called fillers. For even more drama, add in some trailing plants, which are known as spillers. Just make sure that their growing requirements, such as light, water, and temperature, are similar.
7. Consider Dwarf Varieties
As they are even slower to grow than regular plants, dwarf varieties take up smaller space than regular ones. Dwarf plants also allow you to place more plants into your container. As a result, you get to grow more varieties of plants in one container.
They also allow you to grow certain plants like fruit trees that are typically too large to grow indoors.
8. Place Your Plants Correctly
All plants need proper amounts of light and heat to grow. Make sure you place them in areas that mimic their natural habitats. In outdoor settings, it’s easier to give plants access to adequate sunshine and warmth. In indoor settings, ensure they have enough access to the correct temperature and light exposure.
9. Water Properly
Plants grown in containers will often require more water than those planted in the ground. This means you’ll have to be more mindful of the watering frequency for your plants as it won’t be coming naturally. Water the soil of the plants, and avoid the leaves to prevent damage. Allow water to drain well, and then check the soil. Once completely dry, water again. This will help you to determine your watering schedule.
10. Feed Well
Your plants need nutrition, too, and your soil will only provide enough for a short time. Make sure they get the right amount of fertilizer regularly.
As needed, treat your plants with natural fertilizers to help sustain longer term growth. Slow release fertilizers at the beginning of the growing season are a great, low maintenance, way to provide nutrients to your plants. Take into consideration the plants you’re growing as different plants can be more or less “hungry” for nutrients than others.
11. Promote Airflow
Ventilation is essential to keeping your plants free from pests and diseases. The more space found between plants, the fewer risks your plants have of contracting fungal issues. Additionally, diseases attract pests because they prefer to eat vulnerable plants.
In most homes, airflow is not usually a problem. It generally becomes one when you have a lot of plants, or are growing in an isolated area. In these cases, a small box fan is often enough to get that air moving and prevent any of the negative effects associated with stagnant air.
12. Remove Faded Blooms
This happens once your plants are mature enough to produce flowers. Once they are spent, remove them immediately so the plant can concentrate more on growing its other parts. Faded flowers on spent stalks will only take up unnecessary energy that can stunt the overall growth of your plants.
You should also make sure to clean up any debris such as fallen leaves or branches. This helps keep your plants’ space tidy, but also helps dissuade pests and diseases. Dead/dying parts of your plant are easy targets for pests, so make sure to remove them as soon as possible.
Sometimes, your plants can perish, and it’s not always your fault. It could be due to numerous factors, and you shouldn’t worry too much about it. Treat any accidents as a learning experience, and you can move on to grow better plants in the future.
14. Be Creative
The sky’s the limit, so use your imagination! Don’t limit yourself to conventional potting materials, plant choices, and designs. You can make your designs from minimal to grand, from monochromatic to colorful. Make your plant container garden a reflection of your taste, fashion, and lifestyle. You can even branch out and use non-standard containers, like mason jars, which give you even more creative freedom in your garden.