Container gardening is popular because it is a great way to beautify your living space and grow fresh fruits, veggies and herbs for your kitchen.
Unlike a large, stationary garden, container gardening is mobile and versatile. You can move your containers from place to place to brighten any setting. You can set your containers on ledges or pedestals and make good use of hanging baskets. Tomatoes and strawberries are examples of edible, beautiful plants that do very well in trailing hanging baskets.
If you are planning on creating a serious garden, it is better to go with larger containers. They take a bit more work to set up, but they take much less work in terms of care. If you have multiple, small containers you will find yourself watering almost constantly in hot weather because they dry out far too quickly.
With large containers, you can plant densely and create natural ground cover (filler plants) to help prevent evaporation of precious water. Additionally, your chores such as fertilising and harvesting will be easier with one large container (or a few) than with multiple small containers. Plants are also more likely to grow successfully in large containers than in small ones.
Remember that plants in containers will need more water than plants in the ground. The relatively small amount of planting mix means water is limited to begin with and will evaporate more quickly. Pay close attention to the weather, and keep the size of the pot and the needs of the plant in mind. Never let your containers become completely dry as your plants will suffer, and it is difficult to rehydrate them once this happens.
Adding a layer of mulch to your containers will help the soil retain moisture. It also gives your container garden a nice, uniform appearance. When you mulch, don’t allow the mulch to pile up around plant stems. This contributes to root rot.
Container Gardening Tips
There are a few things to be aware of if you’re growing in containers.
- Choose pots that have drainage at the bottom to prevent roots from becoming waterlogged.
- Water will evaporate out of pots more quickly than in soil, so be prepared to water your plants more often.
- Consider the weight of your container and where you intend to put it; heavier pots will need a strong, solid surface to support them.
- Avoid using garden soil in containers. It won’t drain well enough. Use a peat-free multi-purpose compost.
- Raise the pot off the ground on bricks or pot feet to ensure water drains out easily.
- Water containers thoroughly morning or evening. Twice daily watering may be needed in the height of summer.
- Give all plants a dilute liquid feed every week from June to September.
What Plants to Choose
Almost any plants are good for container gardening ideas. The secret is to choose the right size pots for your plant. For example, trees and shrubs need more room for their root growth and larger planters are ideal. It’s a great chance to grow plants that might not enjoy your garden soil conditions because you can alter the compost that you use in each planter.
There is no set recipe of what you can include in your containers. The world of plants is at your disposal, so indulge your inner flower power and plant for drama, scent and vibrancy.
If you prefer the softer look, then the tapestry effect is a good aim. Or if you want to boost your summer menus, then plant herbs, salads and even tumbling tomatoes, strawberries and chilli peppers for vegetable garden container ideas.
What Container to Choose
Terracotta – These heavy plant pots are great if you plan on leaving them outdoors during the colder months. The thickness of the material keeps the contents well insulated, protecting the roots from most of the negative effects of frost.
Glazed ceramic – These durable containers are one of the best choices for adding a bit of flair, colour, and style to your container garden and have insulating properties similar to terracotta pots.
Plastic – The most affordable option, plastic plant pots come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours to suit all tastes. Lightweight containers, such as these, are easy to move and some are frost-resistant, meaning that they can be left outdoors during the winter. Just keep in mind that, even though they are frost-resistant, they can still crack if they face a particularly cold winter.
Wooden containers – Usually made from a cut-in-half barrel. The downside is that the difficulty of moving them around increases as they age.
Concrete – The heaviest and most durable type of containers, these are only suitable if they are kept in the same place all year round.
Stone troughs – Brilliant for alpine plants and ferns. Raise them up on bricks to give them the most impact. They will last forever, but just remember they are extremely heavy.
Wicker baskets – These look great filled with all manner of plants, but to make them last longer it’s best to use them as ‘cache pots’ (outer covers) otherwise they will rot.
Polystone – A relatively new and long-lasting material, made from a mix of ground-up stone and recycled plastic. Available in many styles and shapes and good value too.
Choose a material that suits your style and the place where you are going to place your containers. Although it might be boring to stick to one style, avoid the temptation to mix too many different styles as it can produce a scrappy, mismatched effect.
Lastly, the shape of the container is also important. Some containers are prone to tipping over as plants grow and become top-heavy, especially in windy areas (think balconies and roof gardens). Generally, the wider the base, the more stable a container will be. Square, rectangular, and cylindrical containers are the most stable options, while the traditional inverted cone-shaped containers are the least stable.
Take care when choosing a spot for your containers. Most plants like good light, but if your spot is shady then choose plants that will thrive in low light levels, such as hostas and ferns. Sites exposed to wind will dry out quickly and will be prone to damage.
All in all, container gardening is probably the best way of refreshing your garden without the need for major upheavals.