Here are six container gardening ideas you need to know, understand and practice in your own garden if you want your garden to look like these.
This page is in the process of having a full and complete makeover. Thanks for your patience while I add links to the important things you need to know
Bigger Is Better
These are five foot tall containers – Quebec City – but the point is the bigger the pot, the easier it is to succeed. Easier to keep soil damp, easier to even out temperature fluctuations, more room for plant roots and much better looking.
What’s The First Rule of Container Gardening?
The needs of any plant don’t change just because you decide to grow a plant in a pot.
To succeed, all you have to do is meet the needs of the plant in the container – the same needs as you’d have to meet if it were growing in the ground.
What Can I Grow In A Container?
You can grow almost any plant in a container – these are all being grown in pots
And the very first “rule” you have to understand is that yes – you can grow any plant in a container.
And “no” – the care of the plant doesn’t change for pruning or deadheading. The plant’s needs don’t change – just the way you grow it 🙂
Now that we’ve got those two issues cleared up, here are the critical details.
Marketers sell plants labelled “container plant” but the actual needs of the plant don’t change. It’s all marketing.
Growing Vegetables in Containers – a few suggestions to consider that will give you the things you really need to know to increase your crop.
Some people say you shouldn’t grow a rose in a container but here are seven things that will make you successful.
How to grow bulbs in containers – including diagrams for how to layer them to create monster displays.
What Kind of Container Do I Need?
As it turns out, the color of the container also has a major impact on the way the plants develop. Here’s a research report on pot color
Your Success Depends On Watering Properly
The bigger the pot, the better.
Seriously, those tiny little 10-inch baskets you see in every garden center in the spring are a disaster waiting to happen.
You can see some of our trial plants after a week without water. This is a plant trial I run at the end of the growing season to see which plants are tough and drought resistant. But if you go a few days without water, your plants will look similar
They dry out so fast (small pot and soilless mix) that few gardeners can keep them looking lovely come the heat of July and August. Bigger pots hold more soil and hold more water.
The watering rule is simple. Every time you water, the water has to run out the bottom of the pot before you’re finished.
Note that one problem is when the temperatures get too hot and folks overwater their container gardens in a futile attempt to cool down the soil.
Soils For Container Gardening
The first thing to understand is you never use real garden soil in a container. It compacts under the pressure of watering and turns into concrete by mid-summer. This includes so-called potting soil mixes that contain garden soil I note.
This is one of the best urls for container gardening soils I’ve seen. Great instructions and details.
Feed Your Container Plant If You Want It To Grow
The engine of plant growth is nitrogen.
But nitrogen is water soluble so every time you water your container, you’re driving water out the bottom of the pot and the nitrogen dissolves in that water and leaves too.
The means there’s no plant food left in the pot and your plant stops growing and flowering.
Hey, you’d stop growing and flowering too if somebody cut your food off!
Many gardeners think the plants are fine because they’ve used slow-release fertilizers. But what they don’t know is there are two kinds and the odds are you’re not feeding your plants by mid-summer. So if your plants slow down and start to look ugly in July – you have a feeding issue. Here’s how to use slow release fertilizers effectively.
A raised container garden but one that’s lush, green and well cared for. A mark of a well-fed garden.
The rule is simple. If you want to see superior growth, you have to feed your plants a balanced plant food once a week. I use liquid fish emulsion for superior plant performance
Tip Pruning To Keep Flowers Bushy
If you tip prune when the plant is “just” starting to stretch, (tip pruning is cutting off the growing point of the plant) you’ll force the plant to bush out and get thicker.
Remember that annual flowers bloom on new growth so the more tip pruning you do, the more new growth and the more flowers.
Here’s a short video that shows you how to do this
Success Comes From Putting Plants In The Right Spot
It kills me when I drive around and see gardeners have put shade plants out in the baking sun (or sun lovers under shady eaves).
You have to know your plants and you have to remember the rule about soil heat. I can hear you looking at me – soil heat?
Oh yeah, if the soil in your container gets too hot, your plant is going to stall out and stop growing. So those dark-colored pots hanging out in the sun – the soil in them is almost the air temperature.
Get a day when the temperature goes over 80F then your plant is sitting there struggling or worse, dying.
Put your plants in the right spot (read the tag) or put them out of their misery.
Plants for part shade are tucked next to the wall of a stairway where they get part sun and part shade.
Specialized Container Gardens
What About Vegetable Gardening In Containers?
We do this every year in our own gardens. We have several large containers (including an old garbage can) near out back door and we use them to grow our kitchen herbs, some special lettuce we want to stop the rabbits from eating and a few other test plants.
Growing vegetables in containers is the same as growing any other plant – you have to give the plant what it wants.
And yes, that means we grow regular sized tomatoes in our containers – we don’t grow those teeny, tiny pretend-tomatoes. 🙂
Raised Bed Gardening is Just Growing Big Containers
- Water so the water pours out the bottom of the pot every time.
- Feed once a week with a balanced plant food (where all the numbers are the same or close) or use something like Fish Emulsion.
- Tip prune to keep bushy.
- Grow whatever plant you like – and as long as you’re watering and feeding right, and the plant is in the right sunlight area you should be fine.
There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Containers In A Garden