How to grow a beautiful container garden

The Secrets to a Successful Container Garden

Containers can be hung from a roof, suspended on hooks, or mounted on walls, opening up a whole world of growing spaces. Containers have the added benefit of being beautiful, acting as showpieces in the garden or decorative accents. These tips to successful container gardening will get you well on your way to becoming a small-space gardening pro.How to grow a beautiful container garden

A pot, however, is generally not the ideal space to grow a plant. Pots that are too small, have improper drainage, or are not weather safe will quickly cause the demise of the plants within. The secret to creating the perfect container garden is to create a healthy environment for plants contained in a pot. To do this we need to look at the soil, drainage, water needs, fertilizer, and the pot itself.Everything you need to know about container gardening

Soil

Plants are used to having endless boundaries for their roots in the soil. Unless the soil has structural issues, it will allow for water to flow freely but retain enough moisture that the roots can absorb if they desire. Container soil is limited to a relatively small space and, as such, it needs a few extra items to allow for the proper balance of air pockets, water flow, and water retention.

Container gardens need a soil mix specially formulated for holding the water while allowing for good drainage and keeping the roots healthy. Soil mixes formulated for containers can be purchased at a garden center, which works well if you are only creating a few pots. If you are planning for a large container garden with multiple pots, make your own mix with 1/3 garden soil, 1/3 quality compost, and 1/3 peat moss (or the more ecological alternative, coconut coir).Create beautiful container gardens in pots with these tips for success

Drainage

Containers used both outdoors and inside should have appropriate drainage to ensure the health of the roots.

  • Indoor plants in containers with bottom drainage holes can be set on plant trays to allow the water to run off.
  • Outdoor plants can be set on trays in the dry season to help retain some extra water in warm weather. In wet seasons, set the plant up on a few bricks or stones so that the drainage hole is free flowing and doesn’t become blocked with soil.
  • To re-hydrate a plant that has dried out, soak it in a sink or bowl filled with water for two hours.
  • Prevent soil from leaking out the drainage holes by lining the inside of the pot with a coffee filter or a sheet of newspaper.

Create beautiful container gardens in pots with these tips for success

Water

Container gardens also need to maintain adequate moisture to ensure that the plants thrive. Terracotta or unglazed clay pots wick away moisture from the soil and dry out rapidly. Glazed clay pots, fibreglass, and plastic pots will keep more moisture in the pot and need sufficient drainage holes.

Some pots could need to be watered multiple times a day in hot summer weather. To address this, choose larger pots to hold more soil and thus more moisture, or purchase self-watering pots with a reservoir for holding extra water.

Create beautiful container gardens in pots with these tips for success

Fertilizer

Container soil is not the ideal space for critters like worms, insects, and microbes that convert the decomposing material in the soil into rich nutrients for the plants. Adding compost to your potting soil will go a long way in feeding the plants but as the plants grow and bloom, the nutrients will deplete. Search for organic fertilizers like worm castings and fish emulsion to add to your containers throughout the season. Replant your containers each year with a fresh soil mix of compost, garden soil, and peat moss/coir for more nutrition.

Container Care

Choose a pot that is large enough to hold the plant at its mature size by envisioning that the plant needs as much room for the roots as it needs above the soil. This isn’t true for all plants, as some have shallow root systems or do well as a container plant with restricted root growth, but in general buy the largest pot you can for your plant.

Create beautiful container gardens in pots with these tips for success

Here is an important tip that is one of the most crucial factors to a healthy container garden. Wash your pots before planting. It is such an important point that I wrote a whole post about it here.

One final tip for the perfect container garden is to look for plants that are suitable for container growing. Some have a container icon on the seed package or plant label, or they could be identified as “container,” “pot,” “dwarf,” or “micro” varieties.

About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Calvin Kent
    Calvin KentApril 29,15

    I think at first Soil is more necessary than water is necessary. That a wonderful article About successful Container Garden.Nice blog here! Additionally your web site so much up very fast!

  2. Buddy B.
    Buddy B.May 4,15

    Great article about container gardening. Also everyone should keep in mind the larger the container the larger your plant will grow… more roots = more growth!

  3. Jane Rutkowski
    Jane RutkowskiMay 6,15

    Very nice article about container gardening. Pretty photos, too!

  4. Kristin Cook
    Kristin CookApril 2,17

    Thank you for the tips. I do not have a green thumb so I appreciate help!

  5. Aaron
    AaronApril 30,17

    Drainage is very important and unfortunately many people neglect to consider it! Great article :)

  6. Pat gillock
    Pat gillockMay 1,17

    I would suggest that instead of using a coffee filter or newspaper over a pot hole to prevent soil loss, a square of landscape cloth be cut to fit the pot bottom and used instead. It will not disintegrate as a coffee filter or newspaper soon will.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseMay 1,17

      Hi Pat, great suggestion! Do you have issues with it getting clogged over time? I like to use paper that breaks down because it can be composted and I change out the soil each year. It lasts great for a year and doesn’t get clogged with soil (because, or course, it breaks down instead). If I were to use it in a large pot that I wasn’t going to change the soil completely, then I would think that landscape fabric would be a great choice.

      • Pat gillock
        Pat gillockMay 1,17

        I’ve not had problems with landscape cloth clogging the holes but I change out the soil every year, adding last year’s soil to my compost pile.

        • Stephanie Rose
          Stephanie RoseMay 1,17

          yup, me too (composting the soil). So, I find the paper lasts the year no problem and it can go right in the bin. But I will try the landscape fabric on a few pots this year to compare. Thank you so much for the idea! Happy Gardening!

  7. Brenda
    BrendaMay 22,17

    Great article – very helpful for a beginner like me :) Quick question: if I use a large, deep pot, but use a plant that has a shallow-ish root system, do I need to fill the entire pot with soil? Or can I put a ‘false’ bottom in the big pot and then fill with soil?

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseMay 23,17

      Great question, Brenda! Yes, you can create a false bottom in a large pot using empty plastic milk jugs or an overturned nursery pot. It will save some soil space as well as keep the pot lighter.

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