Basic Container Gardening Tips
Which is the best container?
Well....growing healthy plants does not depend on a beautiful pot. You
can buy an expensive terracotta pot or recycle a bucket....it won't
matter much to the plants! But there are two important features that a
plant growing container has to have for you to produce healthy plants.
1. Sufficient size:
I often see people choosing containers that are too small. The bigger
the pot the easier it will be to keep the plants watered and fertilized.
Small containers will be outgrown by the plants in a short period and
the plants will tire prematurely. So...if in doubt always choose a
2. Adequate drainage: a good container should
have several drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. No drainage or
plugged up holes will cause the roots to rot and your precious plants
will be dying.
What is the best growing medium?
is not the soil from your garden!
Unfortunately, garden soil turns into
a rock hard clump once you fill it into a container. The easiest way
out is to buy good quality potting soil. Stay away from the cheap stuff.
You get what you pay for! The cheap compost is often too fine and
I prefer an organic potting compost that is a bit coarser. This
will allow for more air at the roots. Yes...the roots need air! If you
have compacted soil the plant roots will start rotting and can't do
You can use some amendments to help improve the potting compost. Here is what we like to use:
Vermiculite: this is a heat treated mineral. It is light and has lots of pores. Vermiculite can hold air, water, and nutrients.
castings: this is the magic stuff the worms produce in your compost
pile. It contains a load of nutrients, minerals, enzymes and beneficial
microorganisms that will stimulate healthy plant growth. I like to add a
few handfuls into the potting compost. If you don't have any you can
buy it here.
A Few More Container Gardening Tips For Plant Care
Plants need Food!
Feeding your plants in containers regularly is even more important
than in the ground.
The roots are restricted to the pot and can't go
deep to find nutrients. You will have to make sure to have a steady
supply of available nutrients for your plants. Malnourished plants don't
flower and grow well. They are also prone to pests and diseases.
like to add an organic fertilizer to the soil when I pot things up. That
way the plants are fine for 6-8 weeks without any extra need for liquid
You will then either have to add more fertilizer or start using a liquid feed in the water regularly.
Tips For Watering Containers
Watering seems like an easy task...
...but it really is a skill that
you will improve on over time. You will learn from your mistakes.
watering in time leads to suffering and wilting plants, dying off
foliage and bad performance. It is also difficult to re-wet the soil
once it has dried out. All the water will run over the root ball and out
at the bottom of the pot without soaking into the soil. The only way to
remedy that is to stand the pot in water for a couple of hours.
on the other hand, is equally detrimental. Most plants don't like to be
constantly wet at the root.
This is where the green fingers come into
play. Touch the top of the soil in your container: if it feels moist you
don't need to water.
While watering your plants in the morning or the evening is best don't wait if they are in need of water on a hot summer afternoon. Just avoid wetting the leaves so they don't burn.
So...how often should you water your pots?
There is, unfortunately, no easy answer for this. It depends on several factors:
- the weather: plants obviously need more water in hot weather
- the size of the plants: larger plants with a lot of foliage need more water.
- the size of the planter: larger pots need watering less frequently
- the position: pots in sunny locations need to minded extra well.
How to make it easier?
If you have a busy schedule and don't have enough time for watering your containers it might be worth your while to invest in a watering system or self-watering planters with a water reservoir.
Have you more useful container gardening tips that we haven't mentioned in this article? Let us know about your tips in the comments below!
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