Do you love the smell of fresh soil? The sound of a lawnmower cutting through the grass. The feeling of dew on your fingertips? Do you miss having a garden to enjoy all these things in? Well, container gardening may be the perfect solution for you! You can grow plants in containers right on your porch or patio. And if you’re not sure where to start, keep reading for some tips.
Why Container Gardening?
Sometimes as we get older, we decide it’s time to downsize and we move to a smaller space. Often our nice garden gets turned into a balcony or patio, or a small flat. If you’re like me, you miss planting gardens. Even in a flat if you have a few sunny windows, planting in containers can improve your décor, improve the air quality, and add delightful blooms to your space. With a patio or balcony, you can even grow herbs and vegetables.
Container Gardening Tips for Beginners
Where to start? First, get an idea of the location you want to put your plants in. If you are putting your containers outdoors, be sure to think about the light requirements. A plant that is meant for the shade will have a hard time in a sunny location and vice versa. If you’re planting indoors and the plant needs sun, it will need to go near a window. Larger plants will need quite a bit of space and are best grouped together with smaller ones in front.
Picking Out Containers is Half the Fun
You can buy containers at the garden centre or discount shop. But they can be found everywhere. Car boot sales, charity shops, antique shops and from catalogues. Think outside the box, do you have an old trunk or basket that would make a nice container for some plants? Or, how about an old boot, purse or a wooden box that you could paint. The possibilities are endless and part of the creativity of container gardening. As long as you can line them with plastic and the water can drain out, you’re good to go. You can always poke holes in the bottom with an ice pick or use a drill if it’s a harder substance.
Choosing the Right Plants for Your Containers
When choosing your plants, you can either buy them from a plant nursery or start them from seed. When buying from a plant nursery be sure to read what the lighting requirements are and how tall and wide, they grow. Otherwise, you may find that you will need to repot them sooner than you wanted to. Make sure the pot is deep enough with room for the plant to grow larger.
If you want to start your plants from seed, there are many companies that have seeds specifically meant for container gardening. If you do a Google search you will come up with quite a few you can order from. When starting from seed make sure you get seed starting mix and start them out in small pots. Follow the directions for the depth to plant the seeds and make sure they are near some light in a warm space. Once they have their first true leaves you can transplant them to a bigger pot.
Sun and Shade Plants for Container Gardening Outdoors
When planting in the sun, herbs are a great choice, and since containers are moveable, you can have them right outside your kitchen door. Herbs that love the sun are chives, rosemary, lavender, basil, thyme, oregano, and bees’ balm (bergamot).
Beautiful flowers always perk up a porch or balcony. Try petunias, canna lilies, zinnias, lantana, geraniums, and hibiscus to make your space pop and bring a few butterflies around.
Don’t worry if you have some shady spots, there are plenty of plants that are shade loving. You can plant some hydrangeas with their big, beautiful blooms, or how about lamium, begonias, fuchsia, ferns, astilbe and phlox.
When container gardening it’s fun to mix a few different species in one container. By taking a plant that drapes, like sweet alyssum, and putting it with petunias you can create a wonderful pot with different colours and textures.
Planting in Your Containers
Get ready to plant in your containers. Assemble everything you need to plant in advance. Here are the essential items you will need:
- Your pot or container
- Potting soil
- A small spade
I like to spread some paper down for an easy clean up. You will want your pot to have at least 2 inches around the sides and the bottom, so your plant has room to grow. Fill the bottom of the pot with soil to the point where when you put the plant in it comes to about an inch and a half before the rim. Place the plant inside and fill in the sides with more soil. Water the plant thoroughly.
Watering Your Container Garden
When planting in containers you will need to water more often. Plants grown in containers tend to dry out quicker than when planting in the ground. In the summer you may need to water every day, or at least keep an eye on your pots. During the autumn and summer, you can often cut back to 2 to 3 times a week. When you water, make sure to soak the plant thoroughly until a bit of water is coming out of the bottom.
Fertilising Your Container Garden
Many potting soils come with fertiliser already in them that lasts up to six months. Check your soil before buying. If it doesn’t come with it already mixed in, you can get an organic time-released fertiliser that you can mix in with the soil. If it already has fertiliser, you can simply add additional fertiliser every two to three months. Just mix it into the top of the soil and water. This will keep your plants healthy and flowers blooming.
Bright reds, golden yellows, purples and indigoes, your container garden can be an ever-changing joy in your life. By gardening in containers, you will benefit from the fresh air and sunshine, the delight in learning about what you’re growing, and the beauty of the plants around you. I hope you enjoy container gardening. It’s a cheerful hobby that can bring a smile to your face every day.
Will you be giving a container garden a go? Or perhaps you have your own tips for starting a container garden? You can share them in the comments section below!