What exactly is container gardening? What makes it better than other gardening techniques? What plants can you grow in containers? What tips and techniques can help you succeed? In the rest of this post, we will have all the answers to your questions. By the time that you reach the end of this post, we hope that it will be a lot easier for you to start with container gardening.
Benefits of Container Gardening
Why should I try container gardening? This is probably the first question that you have in mind by now. I can give you an endless list of reasons, but at the end of the day, the best way to realize its many benefits is to try it yourself. For sure, after growing your plants, you will regret not doing it earlier.
Also known as pot gardening, it simply refers to growing a wide array of pots in containers and not on the ground. The container is an enclosed and portable object, which can include hanging basket, barrel, tin, or pot, among others.
To give you more reasons to give container gardening a shot, below are some of the most notable benefits that it can deliver:
- Space-Efficient: This is perhaps the best thing about container gardening. If you live in a small apartment or in a flat without any backyard, you can grow plants even in containers. Vertical gardening with plants in containers will be a good idea. You can fill the window sill with small pots where you can grow herbs or indoor flowers.
- Perfect for Beginners: Even if you have no deep knowledge about gardening, there is no need for you to worry. Container gardening is pretty much straightforward. It is simple and effortless to carry out. No green thumb is necessary. If you follow the necessary techniques, success will be easily apparent.
- No Heavy Maintenance: Similar to the case of other plants, care and maintenance will be required in container gardening. Nonetheless, the good thing is that you do not need to exert too much effort. Unlike in gardening on the ground, there is no need to constantly deal with weeds, among other problems.
- Decorative: When you grow plants in containers, they can make excellent decorative indoor pieces. For instance, in the case of flowers that you can grow in pots, they will effectively add a touch of bright color indoors.
- Not Time-Bound: You can do container gardening at any given time. For instance, if it is too hot or too cold outside, there are some plants that you cannot grow. If the plants are in containers, on the other hand, you can transfer them indoors and create a more suitable environment to encourage their healthy growth.
- Easy Pest Control: Pests and diseases are common problems when it comes to gardening. When it comes to plants in containers, on the other hand, it is not much of an issue. While there are still health problems that can be apparent, they are not as severe as to those plants on the ground. Because they are smaller and in contained space, pest control will be a lot easier.
- Easy to Harvest: Another reason why container gardening is perfect for beginners is because harvesting is a breeze. The herbs, fruits, and vegetables you grow in pots will be easy to harvest. In small pots, you have to invert the container instead of digging up on the ground. This is true for plants like potatoes, radishes, and carrots.
- Kid-Friendly: Looking for a new activity that kids will enjoy? Thinking of teaching the little ones something that will give them a valuable lesson? Container gardening is an excellent idea. This will also teach them to be responsible as they take care of the plants that they are growing. Because it is easy, kids are sure to love it!
- Portable: With container gardening, you can transfer the pots or boxes easily from one place to another. For instance, if you have a plant that requires sunlight, you can easily change its position.
What to Plant
Now that you know about the many benefits of container gardening, your next concern is probably about what to plant. Remember, not all plants will favor containers. Some will require a larger space, and hence, you should stay away from such. By knowing what to plant, you are lessening the likelihood of frustration.
A lot of people consider container gardening because of its ability to make any space more aesthetically-pleasing. There are many flowers that you can grow in pots, making it possible to brighten up any boring or dark space. Jasmines, African violets, orchids, hibiscus, cape primroses, poinsettia, hydrangea, peonies, cyclamen, authurium, sweet pea, amaryllis, purple heart plant, begonia and geraniums are some of the best. Some flowers, however, are not only beautiful, but they are also edible. Some of the perfect examples of the latter include nasturtium, pansies, and marigolds.
If you want to be more practical, there are also vegetables and fruits that you can grow in containers. You can even build your own salad garden at home with all the greens that you will need for a healthy meal. Some of the best fruits you can plant indoors include strawberries, grapes, figs, watermelon, apricot, peach, nectarine, mulberry, papaya, and pineapple. When it comes to vegetables, on the other hand, some of the best include tomato, pepper, eggplant, carrot, radish, onion, garlic, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, beans, bell pepper, arugula, mushrooms, and cucumber.
For those who love to cook, container gardening is also good. You can plant herbs in the kitchen and take out what you need, depending on the recipe that you are preparing. Some of the best herbs that you can plant in containers include chives, coriander, parsley, tarragon, cilantro, sage, thyme, bay laurel, and rosemary, among others. They will be perfect to add natural flavorings to your dishes.
While containers are small and perfect for space-saving, not all of the plants are indoors. Even outdoors, you can try container gardening, specifically in the case of perennials and shrubs. They will be the perfect addition to your landscapes. Some of the best plants to grow include ferns, sedums, and European wild ginger. Small shrubs and ornamental grasses will also be great.
Types of Containers
Aside from the choice of plant to grow, another essential consideration is the type of container to pick. From the material to its size, make sure that it will be instrumental in the growth of your plant.
Creativity is the limit when it comes to the containers that you can use. In this case, the following are some of the options that you will have:
Importance of the Right Soil
After knowing the plants to grow and the types of containers that you can use, the next critical consideration will be the right choice of soil. This will have a huge impact on the survival of the plants and in its defense against a wide array of garden pests and diseases. If you want a strong foundation for your container garden, start with choosing the best soil.
Do not opt for cheap soil. Yes, they may be excellent for your budget, but the problem is that they will most probably compromise the health of your plants. Go to a reputable seller for the right soil mix. Consider the conditions of the external environment, such as the heat. Think about what plants you will grow as well. These things will help you to decide which soil mix is suitable for your gardening needs.
The traditional garden soil will not be good if you intend to plant in containers. Nutrients, water, and air are not enough, and hence, there is a chance that using the garden soil can kill your plants. Luckily, there are soil amendments that you can do to make it more suitable for container gardening. There are mineral aggregates that you can mix in a potting soil. Some of the perfect examples include kitty litter, vermiculite, and perlite. It helps in the aeration of the soil and in retaining the critical nutrients.
You can also consider adding sphagnum moss or peat moss. These are organic materials that will help the ability of the soil to retain moisture. Water will cling to these materials, and hence, prevent the nutrients from being washed away.
Compost is another beneficial ingredient in your potting soil. With billions of microbes, it will greatly benefit your soil and plant. You can even make our own compost using the most common household wastes, making it an eco-friendly alternative.
Lastly, you can also add fertilizers, but make sure to opt for those that are natural. Some of the best fertilizers that will do a great job in enriching soil quality include animal by-products and plant debris.
Watering and Caring for Plants in Containers
While it is impossible to discount the importance of the right soil in successful container gardening, it is just one of the key ingredients. There are other things that are equally important. Similar to how humans need water for survival, it is also a vital element in the growth of plants that you grow in containers.
How often should you water plants? This is probably one of your biggest concerns. Well, there is no straightforward answer to this question. There are different factors that will come into play, such as the type of container, season, location, and the specific plant that you are growing. One of the best things to do is to press the soil. If it feels dry from the tip of your finger, this is an obvious sign that you need to water it.
When it comes to watering, you also need to be familiar with your plants, especially about the amount of moisture that is ideal for their survival. If you are planting succulents, they prefer soil that is a bit dry. For juicy vegetables, on the other hand, they like moist soil.
It is also important that you water early in the morning. This provides water in the soil plenty of time for drying out. If you water in the evening, the soil will turn out soggy. One of the problems with the latter is that it can encourage pests and diseases.
Also, it is important to point out that you need to water the soil and not the leaves. The roots need the water, which, in turn, will allow it to transport nutrients to the other parts of the plants. If you water the leaves, it will be susceptible to sunburn and will have negative effects on aesthetics.
More than the right timing, the amount of water is also critical. The type of plant that you have will dictate how much water it needs. You can purchase a gauge, a simple product that will allow you to measure the moisture in the soil, and hence, will give you an idea of how much water it needs.
Lastly, do not ignore the importance of proper drainage. Having holes at the bottom of the pot will be good. This will allow water to drain out of the soil. If not, the surface will be soggy and too much water can encourage health problems for the plant.
Container Gardening Tips and Techniques
In this section, we will have a brief rundown of some of the most important things that you need to do to succeed in container gardening:
- Pick the Right Plants: Whether you are planting seeds or seedlings, make sure that they are disease-free. Purchase only from reputable sellers to be sure of the quality of the plants. Also, consider the climate in your area to be sure that the plant will thrive.
- Choose the Right Location: Whether you intend to place the containers indoors or outdoors, you need to emphasize the optimal location. Does it need direct sunlight? If so, place it near the window in the case of indoor plants. Keep it away from direct sources of heat or inconsistent temperatures. Think whether your plant needs sun or shade.
- Remove Old Blooms: This is especially true in the case of indoor flowers. It is a process called dead heading, or simply the removal of faded blooms. This will encourage the formation of brighter and more beautiful flowers.
- Take Out Dead Parts: Similar to the removal of the old blooms, you need to eliminate any part that is already dead or indicative of a health problem. This will prevent the disease from spreading to the healthy parts of the plant. Also, be sure to use clean scissors or shears as the latter can be a medium for the transfer of pathogens.
- Consider Companion Planting: Plants in containers need to have good neighbors. For this reason, you need to consider what companion plants to have. See to it that they will blend well together, especially in terms of aesthetics. For instance, if you have plants that need full sun, grow other plants that require the same so that you can arrange them in a single position.
- Emphasize Proper Spacing: Similar to the case of plants on the ground, you also need to make sure that there is enough space in between plants. This will help to improve air circulation, allowing the plants to breathe. Also, if they are too close to each other, chances are, it is easier for diseases to transfer from one plant to another.
- Do Not Use Chemicals: While pests are not too much of a problem in container gardening, it is inevitable that they can still be present. The best way to deal with them is to stay away from using chemicals with toxic ingredients, especially if you plant edibles. Look for natural solutions, such as planting resistant varieties, using covers, or spraying natural repellents, such as those that make use of lemon or garlic.
- Make the Right Soil Mix: Earlier in this post, we have talked about the importance of the right soil and some of the best ingredients that you can use. For beginners, one of the most basic soil mixes would include one part perlite, one part peat moss or coconut fiber, one part all-purpose potting soil, and one part compost. It has the ingredients that are necessary to improve moisture and the ability of the roots to absorb nutrients.
- Establish Support: This is important if you intend to grow climbing plants, such as snap peas and pole beans. Stakes and trellises, among others, will provide the support that they need, even if they are in containers.
By now, there should be no excuse for you to not build your own mini-garden. Space limitations should not be an issue. With the right containers and through following the right techniques, it will be easy for you to grow plants.
From fruits to vegetables, herbs to flowers, there are countless plants that you can grow in containers. Even if you are a novice in gardening, everything will be easy as container gardening does not require technical expertise.