Container gardening is a great art and can even make gardening easier. Anywhere in the landscape containers can have a place. We all cherish beauty in the landscape but convenience is also important. Also, as life evolves we often have less space to garden in and time always seems to be in short supply. Containers can make life just a little bit easier. The catch is to learn how to garden in containers wisely.
Any container that holds soil or media and has drainage will work. However, if the container is in a full sun or a windy location, then bigger is always better. Bigger containers will not heat up as quickly and will not dry out so quickly when the hottest part of summer coincides with maximum growth of plants.
What you fill the container with is important and the media used needs to be well-drained, be well aerated and yet still have the ability to retain moisture. It is not a good idea to just use regular soil you may have in your garden. A better choice is one-part soil mixed with one-part peat moss and one-part vermiculate or perlite.
If your containers are large and the plants you are growing do not need the entire container for their root mass, you can save money and media by filling the bottom part of the container with some type of filler instead of soil. If you happen to be placing containers in areas where they might be lifted and taken to a new location without permission, then rocks as filler are exceptional.
Where the containers are placed in the landscape will dictate what you can grow. Choosing plants that will do well in the location of the container is key to success. This makes sense as you need to choose plants that will thrive in the location where they are planted. It is also important to place plants in the container that have similar cultural needs.
Once you have these simple guidelines in order, then the fun part of container gardening takes over. Create interesting combination of colours and textures that will stay attractive throughout the growing season. Containers will need to be watered and fertilized regularly. Prior to planting seed the media with osmocote (pelleted, slow release fertilizer) to ensure that plant has feed throughout the growing season. You will still have to fertilize in order to get the best show, but if you miss a time or two the plants will still flourish. When fertilizing you can either feed once a week or each time you water using a dilute fertilizer solution.
If you are planting just for show, then feel free to overplant the container somewhat so it looks good now. Slightly overplanting the container early in the growing season will ensure they look fabulous for the entire season but bear in mind that as the plants grow they will take up more space both above the ground and below the ground. If you overplant, you will need to remove some of the filler plants as the season progresses to ensure all plants still have adequate space to grow right until freeze up. Neglecting to remove some of the plants will ensure your container will not make it until the end of the season in good health. The root mass will overtake the entire container and it will be almost impossible to keep the container well-watered as the container will be literally filled with roots.
Watch next week for growing edible plants in containers and continue to garden forever and also produce great food. As we age we often downsize and have less outdoor space and it sometimes gets more difficult to get down on the ground and garden – not to mention back up again.