The best part of container gardening is that you can make it your own. Give it a signature twist with the plants you choose, the vessels you use, the décor you add or all of the above. Besides signing your personal autograph with your selections, planting in containers has many other advantages, too.
If you live in a condo, townhouse or just have a small lot, you can dress your yard or deck up with color and foliage. Beginning gardeners thrive on container gardening because if something dies, you can remove it and it’s not the same as having to completely reseed a lawn if that goes awry. Maybe your patio or deck gets good afternoon sun, but your yard offers too much shade to grow certain sun-loving plants. If you plant perennials (plants that keep growing year after year), you can bring the pots into your home during the cooler months and tend to them there.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved. You can spend more time together and if you grow the right food, they just might develop an interest in eating their vegetables. It’s a win-win.
Now that you know container gardening makes sense, how do you start? To have the most success, you’ll need to do a little research before driving to the nursery.
5 Tips for Container Gardening
1. Select containers with drainage holes so excess water won’t sit in the bottom of the pot. If you don’t see a few holes in the bottom, determine if you can make more either by cutting or drilling them.
2. Keep the soil in the pot by covering the holes with coffee filters, a paper towel, newspaper or window screening, but never use gravel or rocks.
3. Mix a slow-release fertilizer into your potting soil before planting.
4. Choose plants for the same pot with similar moisture requirements.
5. Vary the plants in the same pot with one upright, tall variety, one of medium height and a trailing vine of some sort. Place the tall plant in the back, mid-height ones in the middle and let the vines cascade over the pot’s edges.
6 Container Garden Decorating Tricks
6. Stagger pots on a ladder. Browse second-hand stores to locate a wooden ladder. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you can cover up imperfections with containers or vines.
7. Recycle old barrels. From wine barrels to nail barrels to kegs and everything in between, these containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Let colorful flowers, greenery or even vegetables take root in casks of your choosing.
8. Reuse old shoes. Drill some holes in the bottom for drainage and plant herbs or succulents in the top.
9. Create baskets of bounty. Find old baskets at thrift stores or yard sales, line with clear plastic (like the dry cleaners use), cut holes in it and you’re ready to add potting soil.
10. Make a mini-garden using a bird bath or water fountain. Use small plants, ferns, moss, driftwood, rocks and even tiny gardening décor.
11. Hang it up. Containers don’t all have to be on the ground. Vary your plantings with some hanging baskets for a burst of color at eye level or higher.
12. Cheat if you must. Nurseries have already done the work for you. Buy a fully planted pot or hanging basket and you’ve got a great start to your container gardening hobby.