Four Container Gardening Tips
If you as a gardener do four things right, your container garden
will give you spectacular success: select the right container,
use the proper soil, select the right plant for your site,
and use simple maintenance procedures.
Select Right Container
A good container should be large enough to provide room for
soil and roots, have sufficient head room for proper watering,
provide bottom drainage, and be attractive without competing
with the plant it holds.
Drainage holes are the secret to success by making sure the
plant never stands in wet soil. Roots require air space in
the soil to live. If the desired container does not have
drainage holes, consider growing the plant in another container,
perhaps a plastic pot, and displaying it in the more attractive container.
Size and appearance of the container should be in visual
proportion to the plants grown in it and the setting where
it is used. Avoid excessively heavy containers on balconies
and display shelves. The container should also be of a
compatible color and design or style for the setting where
it is to be used.
Use the Proper Soil
The potting soil, or medium in which a plant grows, must be
of good quality. It should be porous for root aeration and
drainage, but also capable of water and nutrient retention.
Most commercially prepared mixes are termed artificial, which
means they contain no soil; therefore, no insects, diseases, or weeds.
Select the Right Plant
Trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, and herbs do well in containers.
The important thing to remember is that growing a plant in a container
does not change its basic light or moisture requirements.
Sun-loving plants still need to be in full sun.
Growing plants together that have the same light and moisture
requirements adds interest and beauty to the container garden.
Avoid mixing slow-growing and vigorous plants. Avoid selecting
a plant that is too small for the container as the roots will
not become established well, and the plant will never be vigorous.
Use Simple Maintenance Procedures
The most common problem with container gardens is too little
or too much water. Because the volume of soil is relatively
small, containers can dry out very quickly, especially on a
concrete patio in full sun. Daily, or even twice daily
watering may be necessary.
Learn to use your fingers to gauge the need for water,
then apply enough to run through the drainage holes in
the bottom of the container. This assures that the soil
is thoroughly and uniformly wet and that excess salts are
washed from the soil. On an upstairs balcony, this may
mean neighbor problems, so make provisions for water drainage.
However, DO NOT ALLOW THE POT TO SIT IN WATER.
It will cause root damage because there will be no oxygen
in the soil, and it will cause a build-up of salts that
can be toxic to plants.