Container Gardening

Careful selection and preparation of the container is key

Yard sizes are shrinking and there is no room for a traditional garden. You would like your plants to move from indoors to outdoors. Hanging flowers on your deck are beautiful and add just the right touch. Maybe the sun exposure requires your plants to be mobile so they get what they need.

There are many reasons why someone would choose container gardening rather than traditional gardening. No matter your reasons there a few things to consider if your container plants are to thrive.

Choosing the right container for your garden

One of the most basic elements of a container garden is the container itself. A container can be anything from an empty soup can or egg carton or more expensive designer pots. It doesn't really matter what kind of container you choose as long at it can hold dirt, provide for proper drainage and meets your personal aesthetic requirements.

The one thing to keep in mind when choosing a container is that some plants are more finicky than others. Plants usually don't do well if their roots are cramped into a small space. Tall plants need a container that allows for a stable base to they don't get top heavy and tip over. Still other plants have different thirst levels meaning the containers they would like will need to have more or less drainage depending on their water needs.

Graduating from one container to another

When you have at last paired a plant with its dream container make sure you remain flexible. Containers do not grow as your plants do.This means that at some point your plant will out grow this painstakingly chosen abode. For the soup can container enthusiast this is usually no problem. If this is likely to mess up the décor then you might want to plan for the growth by purchasing similar containers in larger sizes. This allows for plant growth and keeps the color scheme happy.

Preparing the container

Ok, you have the seeds or seedlings. You have the containers now it is time to fill them with plants. The first thing you'll need to do is make sure the drainage is up to par. If you have a ready made plant pot the drainage holes are already made. A tin can is another story as it has no drainage holes. You will need to do some modification. Using a can opener, or a hammer and some nails punch through the bottom of the tin can in several places to make openings where excess water can escape. If the water not absorbed by the soil can't escape it pools on the bottom of the container and drowns the roots.

Drainage for a container garden

Next comes the soil and a few marbles or some rocks and pea gravel. Line the bottom of the container with the marbles or a mixture of small and larger rocks. This rock or marble layer should constitute the bottom third or fourth of the total container's height and again allows for drainage. Cover this with soil.

When choosing a soil for a container select one that has the ability to absorb and hold water. With all this talk of good drainage you might be left with the impression that container plants don't need as much water. This is not true. Container plants usually need more water because there is not as much soil around them to hold water.

Now put the plants into their new home. This hopefully will be the start of a long and flowery relationship.


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