What's not to love about container gardening? It's a truly flexible option: easy to plant, easy to care for, and easy to clean up once the season is done. We also love containers because they bring layers of flowers and lushness to the concrete and wood areas of our outdoor spaces. From pots to window boxes, hanging baskets to wall gardens, here are a few tips for planting your best container garden yet. Let's get planting!
Keys to Containers
To be safe, go big. It's best to choose a planter that will accommodate the plant when it's filled out and grown, roots will have room to grow and the container will retain moisture better.
Pay close attention to the container's composition, as well. Porous containers, like clay, wood or wire, will require more maintenance and watering. Plastic and composite containers are lighter and easier to move, but may not hold up as well over time.
Most importantly, ensure whatever container you use has adequate drainage. If your pot has a hole in the bottom for drainage, ensure it is elevated from the ground so excess water can run away from the pot.
The Perfect Floral Mix
Two ever-popular approaches to container gardening include:
- Thrillers, fillers and spillers. Thrillers are tall plants, often placed in the center of the pot. Fillers are smaller varieties that surround the thrillers and, you guessed it, fill in the perimeter. And lastly, spillers are flowers and vines that flow over the edge of the pot and down the sides.
- Single variety, full bloom. Dahlias, for example, yield large, full blooms; one or two plants will fill an entire pot.
Vegetables and Herbs
A variety of vegetables and herbs do well in pots, including tomatoes (use a cage to help them grow vertically), beans, peppers, and even cucumbers do well in a 5-gallon pot. For smaller containers, try leafy greens and herbs, like basil, rosemary, dill, mint, and thyme. Be sure to water often as pots dry out faster than in-ground gardens.
- Use new and fresh planting soil; avoid using dirt from your yard as it may harbor insects and disease that, while unseen to you, may harm the health of your plants.
- You'll know when it's time to water if the soil is dry an inch below the surface. Herbs and vegetables will likely require more watering than flowers and plants.
- Check the tag on your plant for sunlight guidelines. Many vegetables/fruits, like tomatoes, will need in excess of 6 hours of sunlight per day. Some flowers can often sustain themselves with medium shade, if you have areas that spend less time getting sun.