Container gardening has its advantages and there are many. For starters, it allows you to start a garden even when you do not have space for it. It is also a great way to have plants indoors. It also allows you to grow plants that you otherwise could not grow where you live. For instance, those who are situated in the temperate zones can grow tropic plants indoor. It is because you have control of the conditions needed for growth as temperature, humidity and hours of light, the plant receives.
Container gardens can include plants such as herb, edibles, flowering plants, trees and other ornamental plants. It is indeed a rewarding task when choosing plants for container gardening. And another task is having container garden ideas.
Choosing A Container For Your Plants
There are a few thing, you will need to consider when choosing a container for your plants such as drainage, weight, porosity, and many others. Choosing the plant pots or another container is essential.
Drainage For Container Gardening
When choosing a pot, ensures it drains properly. It will promote aeration and also ensure the roots of the plants do not drown. The make of the container and also drainage holes will help determine how well your container will drain. Smart pots are a great container because they drain perfectly without the need for drainage holes. If you get a clayey pot, a wooden planter, or a plastic container, you will need to ensure they have adequate drainage holes. If these containers do not have such holes, then you will need to drill some drain holes along the bottom of the containers. There are those who will rather fill the bottom of the container with gravel instead of drain holes. Although this may work, you can easily drown the roots and kill the plants.
Porosity Of Containers
It is good for the plants if all containers are porous to an extent. Clayey pots are very porous and thus allows air into the potting mix. Plastic and metallic containers are not much porous, while smart pots are most porous. Porosity improves aeration and also drainage of water through the pot. When choosing your container for the plant, it is advisable to choose containers made from porous materials such as clayey pots and smart pots. Smart pots, however, may not be the most aesthetically pleasing.
Weight Of Container
The weight of the pot is also important. That applies in particular if you plan on growing large potted plants such as lemon trees, Ficus, and palm trees. It is because as the plant grows big it can easily tip over if the pot is not heavy. You can counterbalance the center of gravity by placing some rocks into the pot before pouring in the potting mix and planting your large plant.
Weight can also be an issue if you wish to move your plant about a lot. Plants that love sunlight can be moved outside during the summers and brought back in during the winters. If the containers are heavy, it may be challenging to keep moving the potted often.
Aesthetics For Container Gardening
Many plants are grown for aesthetic purposes. Sometimes we just want our plants to look nice even if we are growing them for food. For this reason, we would like to go for stylish containers that brighten up our interior spaces. One of the great ways to have unique, nice looking containers for the plants is to use items found in the home such as mason jars, old tea kettles and such. Ceramic pots are also very stylish, so are some wooden, plastic, and metallic containers. The choice is yours. You have to choose what best suits you.
Food Safe Containers
Plants have the ability to absorb chemicals that are found in containers. When you are growing a container garden for food, this is essential. Some plastics may contain such harmful chemicals, so do finished wooden containers and some metallic pots. If you are growing for food, it is important to ensure the pot is 100% safe. A smart pot is a great investment.
Durability Of Containers
Clayey pots can last for years. However, they can also develop cracks when dropped or tipped over. Ceramic pots will also be affected as such. Poorly made plastic pots will deteriorate over a short period, become brittle and start to fall apart. If you want a container that will last, you will need to take durability into consideration.
Maintenance Of Container Garden
Some containers require more maintenance than others do. Wooden, metallic, and plastic containers are low maintenance, although they may not always be food safe. Terracotta (clayey) pots are rather high maintenance but are very safe to use.
This is important depending on where you live. If you live in a region where it gets cold, you will need to consider getting a container that stores warmth very well, if you plan on growing tropic plants. The color of the container determines a lot so does the material it is made from. Dark clayey pots are great at attracting and storing up heat, while metallic containers lose heat rather quickly.
This is also an important point to consider, it is best to go for a container that helps the environment. Smart pots are both user-friendly and environment-friendly. If you want to go green, you need to get access to the material safety data sheet and know exactly what you are acquiring and how that will affect the earth.
Origin And Production Process Of The Pot
This is particularly important when you want to acquire clayey pots. Pots that are gas-fired damages the earth less as compared to pots fired using rice husks and wood. The LP gas used in pots that are gas-fired produces fewer greenhouse gasses than pots fired with wood and rice husks. Also, if you buy local, it is good for the environment since there is minimal transportation involved.
Container Mix For Container Gardening
When growing a container garden, the garden soil just would not do. Not only is garden soil too heavy for the container garden, but It may also contain weed seeds, pests’ eggs, and pathogens. Also, a garden soil becomes compact in a container, limiting aeration and drainage.
You need to use container mix also known as a potting mix or potting soil. This medium is specifically designed for container gardens. You can acquire some potting mix from your nearest garden center of a nursery. As a hobbyist gardener, you may want to go for premixed brand name container mix, or you can create your mix from the primary materials. These materials include perlite (this hugely improves aeration, water retention and drainage), vermiculite, peat moss, sand and vermiculite (this also improves drainage). Most plants will grow excellently in 1 part perlite, 3 parts peat moss. With the premixed potting mix, you will discover that there are mixes made specifically for certain types of plants. For example, cactus mix is made for cactus and other plants that prefer fast draining mixes.
Filling Your Container With Potting Mix
When filling your container with potting mix, first of all, consider the type of plant you wish to grow, for large plants such as ficus and lemon trees, you will want to line the bottom of the container with rocks before filling the pot with potting mix. It is essential to know that the roots of the plant will grow deep into the mix so the pot/ container has to be large and you will have to fill it with enough potting mix. However, if the plant is a small one, such as herbs and vegetables you will not need to fill the pot with as much potting mix. You should make sure your line the bottom of the container with rocks, bottles, or Styrofoam. receive Styrofoam and plastic bottles make the container lighter while rocks make it heavier.
Removing Air Holes In The Potting Mix
It is crucial that you remove all air holes in your potting mix after you have planted your plant. Do this by thoroughly watering your plant. Areas that had air holes will have indentations. You should fill the indented areas with potting mix. It is essential that your potting mix does not have air holes because you want the roots of your plant to be surrounded by potting mix and not air holes. Air holes in potting mix are common occurrences especially when you transplant several plants into a single planter/pot.
Changing The Container Mix After Each Growing Season Or Year
When you are growing your garden year after year, it is advisable to change the potting mix year after year. It is best not to continue the same potting mix used the previous year. That is to keep your plants free of diseases, pest, and fungal spores and insect that may have come into the potting mix. If you are growing a perennial plant, you would want to change the mix every two years or so. You will need to know your plant. Some plants do not like to be repotted. With these plants, changing the potting mix yearly can be detrimental to the plant.
Add Organic Material To Your Mix
There are those who prefer that their plant gets all their nutrients from the chemical fertilizer being fed them. That is because it is simpler this way. However, it is good if you add compost or leaf mold or a bit of sterilized garden soil to the container mix. What this does is that it supplements the nutrients, especially the essential micronutrients and help buffer the pH levels of the container mix. This step should be left to experienced gardeners as you run the risk of introducing toxins and harmful microorganisms to the potting mix.
Watering Your Container Garden
It is crucial that you water your potted plants properly. That is because both overwatering and underwatering can kill the plants. Some plants can stand under-watering, but almost no plant can survive overwatering. It comes as no surprise that many novice gardeners kill their plants by overwatering this. That is particularly true of container gardening. When it comes to outdoor gardening, the earth can easily absorb excess water. In container gardening however, there is nowhere for the water to go. It is important that you water your plant not according to a calendar but rather water your garden when the potting mix is dry.
When the potting mix is dry up to about an inch or two deep, you should water your container garden. If it is in a depth of 2 inches the potting mix is not dry, you should not water the pot. On dry, hot days, you may need to water your plants as much as twice daily, while on wet, humid day, you may need to water your plants once in 5 days.
When watering your plants, do not use cold water, this will harm the plant. In the same vein, do not use warm water as this can cook the roots. You should use tepid water, which has the same temperature as the potting mix. Also, tap water may contain high levels of chemicals such as chloride and sodium. These are harmful to the roots. You should leave the water to sit overnight or at least 7 hours before using it. By then the chemicals would have dissipated.
Also, the time of watering is also crucial. If you water the plant in the night, the soil will remain extra damp throughout the night. That will create conducive conditions for the development of diseases. The best time to water your plants is during the morning. This way excess moisture will evaporate before the temperature drops.
Under-watering can also kill your plants. Negligence can lead to the plant being all dried up and the soil being seriously patched. In times like this, you need to submerge the container in water until bubbles stop appearing. This way the whole potting mix will soak up enough water.
Light Needs For Container Gardening
The light needs of container gardens are rather particular. Unlike plants grown in gardens outdoors, potted plants can easily be denied of enough light. For this reason, you need to play much attention of your plants’ light needs. There are those who determine just how many hours of light and the intensity of the light the potted plants receive using a Sunlight Calculator. You can also manually chart this recording to spot whether your plants receive full sun, partial sun or total shades hourly, from sunrise to sunset.
Finding The Perfect Spot For Your Container Garden
- Plants That Require Direct Or Full Sun. For plants that require full sun, examples of these are tropical plants such as lemon tree; you should choose a south or south-west facing window. In the northern hemisphere, windows facing south receive most light. You can place the plant on the windowsill for even more access to direct sunlight. A sunny room that is filled with daylight is also quite perfect.
- Plants That Require Bright (Indirect Sun). For some plants that requires indirect sunlight, you should place them at least 4-5 feets away from a south or southwest facing window; or 3-4 feet from an east or west facing window. You can also place them anywhere the sun shines into for several hours.
- Plants That Require Partial Shades (Low Light). Place plants that require partial shades right in front of a north-facing window, or 5 feet from a south facing window. You can also place these plants by a window that faces east. This is because the morning sun is much cooler than the afternoon sun. Remember the sun rises from the east.
- Plants That Require A Shady Location. You can place a plant that requires shady locations 6 or more feet away from a south or southwest facing window. In the corner or near a window that is shaded by a tree.
You must be particular of your plants’ light needs.
Providing Nutrition For Container Gardening
When choosing to feed your plant, there are a few things to consider. Do you plan to go organic or inorganic? Do you wish to use slow release fertilizer or quick release fertilizer? And how often should you fertilize the potting mix?
Before you even get started, it is important you understand the figures found on the fertilizer container.
For instant, a 10-5-5 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 5%, phosphorus and 5% potassium. Also, this fertilizer is most likely an organic fertilizer since most of the figures are below 20%. That is not always the case of course. The rest of the 80% is composed of filler, chelating agents, which helps the plants, absorb the nutrients and traces of micronutrients.
Some fertilizers come in dry powdered form, while others come in liquid form. The solid ones may need to be diluted with water. That can be rather difficult since it is tough to get them mixed properly and thoroughly. Liquid fertilizers are easier to work with as they dilute in water with so much ease. As a hobbyist, it may be best to go for liquid fertilizers even though they are expensive. If you plan to grow on a large commercial scale, dry fertilizer may be best.
Choosing Between Organic Or Inorganic Fertilizer
Inorganic or synthetic fertilizers are made from mineral salts. They have a much higher content of nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. There are cheaper and do not contain harmful microbes and beneficial microbes. The amounts of nutrients are also precise. The fertilizer salts can, however, be harmful to the plant as the residual salts build up. For inorganic fertilizers, you need to watch the potting mix by placing it under running water every six months.
Organic fertilizers contain organic materials such as manure, liquid seaweed, bone meal and blood meal, and bird guano among others. These fertilizers contain helpful microbes void in inorganic fertilizers, and they can also contain harm microbes. Some of them also give off foul smells as the fertilizer further decompose. Unlike synthetic fertilizer, it is impossible to know the precise concentration of nutrients found in the fertilizer. It depends on a lot of things like the quality of food the animals eats. Also, bone meal contains much phosphorous and calcium but very little nitrogen, while fish emulsion is high in nitrogen. One advantage of organic fertilizer is that it contains much more micronutrients.
Slow Release Or Quick Release
With quick release fertilizers (these are mixed with water and fed to the plant), releases their nutrients quickly. You will need to feed the plant on a more regular basis, mostly once every month. Slow release fertilizers on the other hands are released slowing into the potting mix. They are mixed with the potting mix dry.
What To Do And What Not To Do When Fertilizing Your Plant
- Fertilize your plant more during the growing period, from spring to summer according to the orthodox growing season calendar. During autumn and winter, fertilize the plant less. This is not always the case since you can control the conditions that determine when winter, spring, summer, and autumn is, when you grow indoors.
- It is not advisable to fertilize plants suffering from disease, pest infestation, or root damage.
- Do not fertilize repotted plant for a month.
- Specially formulated fertilizer for particular plants such as herb fertilizer or fruit fertilizer can be very helpful.
- Know your plants’ nutrients need.
Container Vegetable Garden
Vegetables can easily be grown in containers, which can be placed on balconies, porches, deck, patios, and window sills. Container vegetable gardening can be a fun experience that is also sustainable.
Popular vegetables to start container gardening with include lettuce and spinach. Since these are very easy to grow. You will need to start them in early spring since they do not mind the cold. With lettuce and spinach, you can sow the seeds right into the container. There is no need to germinate the seeds in a separate container before transplanting them. In a week or so, they will start germinating. These two plants grow very quickly, and they will be ready for harvest in little to no time (a month and a half). It is best to harvest them early since they develop a bitter taste if you allow them to bud. A rise in temperature will cause them to bud.
Tomatoes are an all-time favorite, yet many novices struggle to grow them in containers. With a little bit of attention, growing tomatoes are nowhere are difficult as you may think. With tomatoes, it is important to choose dwarf varieties. These are best for containers. You can start them from seed or purchase seedlings ready for transplanting. Cherry tomato is an excellent choice for a first timer.
A large container of about 5 gallons is suitable. Make sure it has drainage holes. You can also acquire self-watering containers. After you have potted the transplants, you should make sure you water them regularly when the potting mix is not moist. That is usually every 2 or 3 days. On hot, dry days, you will need to water daily. Tomato plants like to climb. You can grow them near railings or with a tomato cage. They will take about 2 weeks before they are ready to harvest.
For vegetables, you should use a potting mix made for growing vegetable, or you can mix your own with perlite and peat/ sphagnum moss. You should feed your vegetables with vegetable fertilizer (plant food). If you cannot find that, you can always use general-purpose fertilizer.
Container Herb Garden
Growing herbs in container herb garden is even easier than vegetables. Herbs do not like and need much attention. You should not feed them as often nor will you need to water them as often. Herbs like about 5 hours of direct sunlight. This is because most herbs are Mediterranean in origin.
Getting the right container size is important. Marjoram, oregano, mints, sage, and rosemary grow best in pots that are about 3 feet in diameter. Savory, Tarragon, thyme, and basil grow best in 2 feet containers. Parsley, dill, chives, and cilantro grow best in one-foot diameter pots.
Herbs prefer to grow in a well-drained potting mix. Cactus mix will do great for most herbs that are part of your container gardening setup. A mix of 1 part sand, 3 parts peat moss is great. You can replace the sand with perlite or vermiculite if available. With watering, you should only water them when the soil is dry up to 2 inches in depth. Overwatering is very bad, especially for herbs. Feed them with herb fertilizer, and you should apply fertilizer before planting the herb plants. You should follow the instructions that come with the fertilizer carefully because overfeeding them produce bad tasting leaves.
Once the plant is established, you can start harvesting them. Make sure you do not cut off more than 60% of the plant’s foliage in a go. When harvesting, make sure to cut near a leaves intersection.
Some Container Gardening Ideas
It is good to want your container garden to be unique. Here are some excellent container gardening ideas to try out. You do not always have to purchase a container for your plant, and you can make your own with objects that are in the home.
Plastic Bucket And Metal Bucket Container Gardening
Using a plastic bucket is a great way to start a container garden. Repurposing item is a very good idea. Plastic buckets are light in weight and also very tough. It is better than buying a planter that would last for long. Also, buckets come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes. You can always have a coat of paint as extra decoration.
Just as you can use plastic buckets for container gardening, so can you use metal buckets. If you have an old bucket, you can use them as planters. Since they are made not corrode, you need not worry about the plants absorbing any harmful molecules from them. If they have handles, you can move them about with ease. Large buckets are deep so you can grow tree plants such as Meyer lemon trees in them.
Faux Ladder Garden With Old Drawers
You can use an old drawer as containers for your plants. Create a rack for the drawers using some plants and nails, or screws. A drawer makes for a great container. Just remember to have some drainage holes in them.
Wheelbarrow Container Gardening
You can repurpose old wheelbarrows into a garden on wheels. It is a great container gardening idea and is implemented rarely. Because of their shape and size, you can grow a number of plants in them. Vegetables, in particular, grow very well in them. You can drill a few holes into the bottom for drainage. You can also add some rocks to the bottom of the barrow. That helps improve drainage. They also add an amount of rustic charm to cottage style gardens.
Crockery For Container Gardening
Although crockeries are expensive, if you find a crockery with imperfections they make for great containers for your plant. They are quite large and deep. Every house has broken or old crockeries that are not fit for use and making them a part of your container gardening setup can be ideal.
Paint Cans As Container Garden
Paint cans are readily available and make great containers for herbs. You can start an extensive herbs garden if you have a few. Alternatively you can collect some in and around your neighbourhood.
Tea Cups And Kettles Container Gardening
Old tea cups and tea kettles may not seem to have much use, but you can convert them into nice little gardens. Small plants will grow nicely in them. They are also cute and add to the beauty of your container garden.
Strawberry Jar – Pots Container Garden
Strawberry jars are mostly used for growing berries, but they also are used for growing herbs and other small plants. Growing herbs in pots is a rising trend.
These are the common things you need to know if you are planning on diving into the world of container gardening. Check out more articles on specific topics for further information.