Kyle Stoner
Kyle Stoner
Flowering hydrangea bushes in wooden boxes
Kyle Stoner
Kyle Stoner

    Why You Need a Container Garden

    With spring here and summer just around the corner, it’s time to start utilizing your green thumb. Gardening doesn’t have to be a huge monolith of a project though. Whether you’re looking to grow some flavorful veggies to incorporate into your meals, or to simply beautify your surroundings, a container garden might be the solution for you. It’s an excellent way to connect with nature and improve your health, while also adding value to your home.

    Benefits of a Container Garden

    1. Space Efficiency: Container gardens can be grown in small spaces such as balconies, patios, and small yards. 

    2. Control: Container gardens give you complete control over the soil quality, fertilizers, and pest control methods. 

    3. Mobility: Container gardens are portable, which means you can move them around your home or garden depending on the weather, lighting, or other environmental factors that affect plant growth.

    4. Variety: Variety: You can experiment with different types of flowers and plants (or even try out new recipes and flavors).

    5. Aesthetics: Container gardens can be used to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. You can create stunning displays with colorful flowers, foliage, and textures.

    6. Accessibility: Container gardens are perfect for people who have limited mobility or are unable to do heavy gardening work. They can be placed at a height that is comfortable to work with so you can avoid aching joints.

    repotting house plants

    Choosing A Container

    Size

    Larger containers will require less frequent watering, but more soil, compared to smaller containers. They're ideal for plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, which all need a lot of water. It’s important to avoid overcrowding a container as it can impede growth both above and below the soil. Consider the weight of the container, its sensitivity to weather changes, and the overall appearance you are looking for.

    Make sure to use an all-purpose potting mix instead of garden soil when filling your container as it will provide the necessary nutrients and drainage your plants need to thrive. Generally speaking: the deeper the container, the bigger the plant you can grow.

    Material

    The material of your container affects how much water it retains and how long it will last. Wooden containers tend to be the most aesthetically pleasing and can last a long time if properly maintained. Plastic containers are lightweight and easy to transport, but exposure to the elements often degrades them. While they're more expensive, they're better for long-term use in extreme temperatures. Ceramic containers often come in fun and unique shapes and colors, but they can be more fragile and prone to cracking.

    If you’re looking for a container to put on your patio or deck, consider a self-watering container. These containers are designed to provide water to plants automatically, making caring for your garden even easier.

    Select Plants

    Climate & Sunlight

    ou need to choose plants that can thrive in the conditions present in your location. Plants that are drought-tolerant are more successful in arid areas. If you live in a wet climate, choose plants that are extra thirsty. Research your local temperature range, days of sunshine, and rainy day average to determine which plants will be able to survive and thrive in your location.

    Some plants require full sun, while others may prefer partial shade. Understanding the sunlight needs of your plants is critical to their success in the container garden. Succulents and cacti are great for areas that don't get a ton of shade. Ferns or hostas can tolerate living in the shade of other foliage or a cloudier climate.

    High vs. Low Maintenance Plants

    High-maintenance plants that require more attention and care include exotic orchids, fussy ferns, and delicate roses. These plants have specific growing conditions regarding their precise pH level, temperature, humidity, and soil type. They may also need to be pruned and fertilized regularly.

    On the other hand, if you're less willing to put effort into your container garden, succulents, herbs, and hardy shrubs like boxwood are considered low-maintenance. They need less water and can tolerate a wider range of growing conditions. They're generally less susceptible to diseases and pests.

    Kitchen herb plants in wooden box

    Create A Soil Mix

    Ingredients

    Creating a soil mix for your container garden requires several key ingredients. Start by adding in a base of potting soil, which provides a lightweight, well-draining foundation. Add organic matter such as compost, vermiculite, coconut coir, and peat moss to aerate the soil and retain moisture. Combining slow-release fertilizers will ensure your plants get the nutrients they need over time.

    Finally, it’s important to mix in a few handfuls of perlite or sand to help with drainage and aeration. Once you’ve added all of the ingredients together, mix them thoroughly to ensure everything is evenly distributed, and you’re ready to plant your container garden!

    Soil Type

    When it comes to container gardening, it’s important to select the right soil type. Potting soil is popular because of its lightweight and well-draining mix specially formulated for growing plants in containers. However, it does not contain any nutrients.

    If you’re looking for something more nutrient-rich, you can also use a garden soil-based mix. Garden soil is heavier and less well-draining, so it’s important to mix in a few handfuls of perlite or sand to help with drainage and aeration. Always avoid using topsoil in your container garden, as it can contain weed seeds and other pests that can harm your plants.

    Soil Moisture

    Once you’ve created your soil mix, it’s important to properly monitor the moisture levels in your container garden. Soil in containers will dry out more quickly than in a standard garden bed, so be sure to check the soil’s moisture levels regularly. To do this, you’ll need to use a soil moisture meter or probe to measure the moisture of the soil. Depending on it's measurements, you may have to adjust your watering schedule or add more soil accordingly.

    Plant The Container Garden

    Planting Depth

    Planting too deep or too shallow can lead to problems such as poor growth or root rot. Tomatoes, peppers, and similar vegetables should be planted with the top of the root ball level with the soil surface. Root crops like carrots, radishes, and turnips should be planted slightly deeper. Make sure to read the instructions on the seed packet to determine the correct planting depth for each vegetable.

    Plant Spacing

    When it comes to planting your container garden, it’s important to consider the spacing of your plants which can be found in the seed packet. Proper spacing allows for better air circulation and more even sunlight exposure, which can help reduce disease and pest problems.

    It’s also important to remember that in containers, plants are closer together than in a standard garden bed. This can cause competition for resources such as water and nutrients, so it’s important to fertilize regularly and water your plants thoroughly. If the container is too crowded, consider thinning out the plants to give them more space and light.

    Watering

    Watering your container garden is critical for success. When watering, it’s best to water slowly and deeply to ensure the water has a chance to penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Watering too quickly can lead to runoff, which can cause the soil to become compacted and deprive the plants of oxygen. For best results, water in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation.

    It’s also important to use a water source that is free from contaminants such as chlorine and fluoride. If you’re unsure of the quality of your water source, consider using rainwater or filtered water instead.

    Father and son watering plants at home

    Maintain The Container Garden

    Fertilizing

    An all-purpose fertilizer that is specially formulated for container gardening is ideal, as it will provide the right balance of nutrients for the specific plants you are growing. Fertilizing your plants every two weeks during the growing season will help ensure they get the nutrients they need and will help promote healthy, vigorous growth.

    If your plants are not responding to the fertilizer, it’s possible they may need a specific type of fertilizer to address certain deficiencies. In this case, you can use a soil test kit to determine what type of fertilizer your plants need and then adjust your fertilizing schedule accordingly.

    Weeding

    Weeds can quickly take over a container garden, so it’s important to keep them out. Hand-weeding is often the most effective way to manage weeds in a container garden, as it’s easier to access the root system of the weeds. If your container garden is getting overrun with weeds, you can use a pre-emergent weed control product or a non-toxic weed control product to help manage the weeds.

    You can also use mulch to help prevent weeds from taking over your container garden. Mulch helps to block out light and moisture so the weeds can’t germinate and take hold. Additionally, mulch helps to keep the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, which can help extend the growing season of your container garden.

    Pruning

    Pruning is an important part of maintaining a container garden. Pruning helps to encourage healthy growth and to keep plants looking their best. Regularly pruning your plants helps to remove dead or diseased branches, encourages new growth, and can help to keep plants to a manageable size. Additionally, pruning can help to increase the amount of light and air circulation around your plants, which can help to prevent disease.

    When pruning your container garden, it’s important to use sharp, clean tools and to make sure you are removing only the branches that are dead, diseased, or otherwise in need of pruning. Additionally, be sure to leave enough foliage on each branch to ensure the plant has enough energy to continue growing and producing healthy fruit or flowers.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, container gardening is an excellent way to bring the joys of gardening into small spaces and to those with limited mobility. By following these tips on container selection, plant choice, and soil mix, you can create a beautiful and productive garden that will bring you joy and nourishment throughout the growing season.

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