Container gardening is different from planting in the ground. The space is limited which affects the amount of soil the plants roots can reach to absorb water and nutrients. Keeping this spatial limitation in mind there are a couple of important factors to take into account when container gardening including the size of the pot, moisture, nutrients and plant choice. This guide will help you become a container garden master!
The first thing to consider is the size of the container you choose. A pot that is too small will cause your plants to require more time and care to stay alive while a pot that is too large can be difficult to move and require more soil than is necessary. If you are making a decorative planter consider the aesthetics of the pot too. Unusual containers such as old cans or rain boots can make quirky fun planters or a sleek decorative pot or terracotta pot can be used for a “refined” look.
The next step is moisture, most containers will dry out faster than a garden bed. That being said most vegetables do not like having soggy roots which can make finding the perfect balance tricky. Be sure that each container has drainage holes in the bottom. Plants prefer less frequent deep root waterings to constant shallow waterings. We recommend watering container plants until water comes out of the drainage holes in the bottom. This ensures that the plant got a good soak. Mulching the top layer of the container can help retain water and allow for less frequent waterings. Whenever you water be sure that the plant needs it first. Stick your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle and if the soil at your fingertip is dry then the plant needs watering. Another way to enable less frequent waterings is to plant a water bottle with holes in it along with plants. See pictures below for more details.
Frequent waterings can leach needed nutrients from the soil. These nutrients need to be replaced on a regular basis. Fertilizer can be used to replace nutrients. The three most important nutrients for healthy plant growth are Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Every fertilizer has three numbers on the front which refer to the percentage by weight of these three nutrients respectively. The best fertilizer for your container depends on what types of plants you are planning to grow. As with all fertilizers the most important thing is to follow the directions on the package.
The final step is picking out which plants to put in the planter. This step is arguably the most enjoyable and where your creativity can shine. For decorative planters there are three categories of plants to include; a thriller, spiller and filler. Thriller plants are striking and add height to the planter. Spiller plants have a trailing habit and spill over the side of the container in elegant waves. Filler plants are generally shorter plants that complement the other two types. This year our annual pots are arranged into Thriller, filler and spiller tables at the greenhouse. Be sure to ask our staff where to find these if you have any trouble. Color is another important factor in decorative planters. You can either go for complementary colors or a monochromatic theme. Both choices can be stunning. For container vegetable gardens be sure to consider which plants work well together. Some combinations of plants help both plants grow more vigorously will other combinations hinder growth. Click on the link below for a companion planting chart that can help you find the best combinations of veggies to grow!
Stop by Hook’s today and pick up all of the things you need for container gardening fun! We have a variety of pots and unique containers in the Rusty Hook Junk Shop and many varieties of annuals perennials and vegetables to choose from. Our staff are happy to help you plan out a container or plant it for you if you’d like!