When it comes to gardening, the options available are truly endless — you can source a wide range of plants and design elements while utilizing your personal living space. Whether you want to grow flowers or your own food, you do not need to have mass amounts of space.
From patios to windowsills, doorsteps to rooftops, container gardening is taking the world by storm. Never before have we had so many options, allowing us to meet both our aesthetic and functional needs. The use of containers as garden planters has allowed modern gardeners to expand their knowledge and experience.
If you would like to grow your own vegetables this summer or develop a stunning container garden, full of vibrant flowers, this guide will help you decide what you need. Whether you’re space-limited or would simply like to elevate the look of your garden, containers are the perfect way to do so.
Starting a Container Garden — Here’s What You Should Know
For some gardeners, they have the space needed to develop a large garden bed, however, they recognize the appeal of container gardening. When you source a planter, you can add a decorative touch to your outdoor space, while growing your very own food or flower bed.
Container gardening is similar to traditional gardening, in that your plants still have specific requirements in order to maintain their health. First of all, plants will need a suitable container, water, available nutrients, and light. Although it sounds simple, there are certain aspects that you need to know.
- Choosing a container
Container gardening is versatile in terms of design and durability. Some containers are made from wood, whereas others are made from clay. For the most part, this is a personal preference, as some prefer metallic styles, while others enjoy the look of more rustic planters, such as wooden planter boxes.
Whatever container you choose, you will need to ensure that there’s proper drainage and that it’s big enough to support the plant(s) of your choosing. Remember, you’ll want to select a pot that will hold a full-grown plant — unless, of course, you plan to re-pot in the future.
The truth is, the majority of beginner gardeners often underestimate the size of the container needed. When purchasing flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees, be aware of their individual requirements in terms of space and light. If you think you’ll need to physically move the container on a regular basis, in order to meet those needs, source a lightweight container, such as a resin or plastic planter.
- Know how to care for your plants
When container gardening, you’ll want to be mindful of the soil you use. In most cases, soil from your garden will be too dense for container gardening. Meaning, it will not allow for optimal drainage and aeration. Instead, purchase a potting mix that includes peat moss, allowing the soil to remain loose and moist.
Although potting mixes provide a good foundation, they’re generally low in nutrients. At some point, you’ll want to add a high-quality fertilizer. If you have compost ready-to-go, add that into your potting mix before planting. It’s recommended that you do not exceed a 3:1 ratio — potting soil: compost.
The next area to be aware of is watering — without a regular system in place, your plants will not thrive. Proper watering is essential for container gardening success, as plants tend to dry out more quickly than they do when planted in the ground. You will need to water based on your plant’s needs, however, avoid allowing the soil to completely dry out between waterings.
The morning tends to be the best time to water — but be mindful of excess watering. If your potting mix is not porous or there’s inadequate damage, you can actually drown the roots of your plant. For those who are away often or are unsure how much to water, self-watering planters are a great solution.
The last factor to be mindful of is light — as most vegetables and flowers require full sun for healthy growth and development. Once again, be mindful of your plant’s specific needs, but on average, containers should generally receive at least six hours of sunlight daily.
- Practice problem-solving for container gardening
Gardening is a learning process and sometimes, you will experience a number of common problems. By better understanding the cause of the problem, you can effectively intervene before your plants die. Be mindful of the following, so that you can maintain the look of your garden season after season:
- Regularly inspect your plants for bugs or signs of disease. If you encounter common pests, there are plenty of natural solutions available, including the introduction of helpful insects and all-natural DIY repellents.
- Recognize signs that something isn’t quite right — for instance, plants appear to be wilting even though they get enough water. This could be as simple as insufficient drainage or aeration, meaning you would need to use a lighter soil mix or increase drainage holes.
If leaves have spots on them or appear to be unproductive, you may need to focus on lowering nitrogen levels and increasing phosphate. In some cases, leaf edges die or turn brittle, this is often due to high salt content.
As you become more experienced, you will be able to grow a container garden with ease. Don’t be shy to put your own spin on it either — displaying your individual personality and style. When it comes to container gardening, the sky’s the limit, so be sure to have fun and explore your creativity.