If you are in need of a New Year resolution to commit to, try greening up your space! Have no fear – large amounts of space or land is not necessary as you can join the trend sweeping communities everywhere – container gardening. Similarly, don’t think you have to wait until spring to have a blooming garden, there are plenty of plants that thrive in the cooler months of fall and winter.
Small space? No problem! A lack of space doesn’t have to inhibit you from trying container gardening, as you can utilize the area you have in a creative way! When it comes to container gardening, you have to consider some specific things. From watering to soil type to container size, everything will affect the way your plants grow. This guide is meant to assist those in the beginning of their gardening planning, perfect for those just getting started or anyone who needs a refresher.
Choosing your plants
First, get an idea of what kind of plants you’d like to grow. Plant type will affect your soil and container choices, so it’s best to decide on at least the general plant grouping before moving forward. Tons of plants will thrive in a container environment, from herbs to certain flowers to even vegetables.
For plants that will grow in the cooler months, try winter jasmine or pansies for flowers, and ornamental kale for vegetables. Other growing seasons favor other plants, but don’t be afraid to try a variety and keep your garden alive all year long.
Vegetables and herbs:
Great examples of vegetables for a container garden include other ornamental versions of vegetables such as sweet potatoes or peppers. Many herbs would be perfect for your garden – especially one with limited space, from parsley to basil to mint to chives. If you are looking to go the floral route, try beautiful petunias or delectably scented verbenas.
Can a variety of plants share the same space?
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to plant one thing in one container or the same thing over and over, there are plenty of herbs, veggies, and flowers that can share space. Consider a mixture of herbs or a creative display of multi-colored flowers. It is important to acknowledge that not all plants bode well with each other, so check your proposed combination prior to planting. For example, chives and rosemary are best planted in separate containers, however thyme and oregano can get along just fine.
Once you’ve decided what you want to fill your container garden with, it’s time to move on to the more in depth preparations.
Choosing your pot
You’ll need to do some research at the next few stages to ensure that what you are doing is appropriate for your plant of choice. Most vegetables are going to need more room than your average flowers, while herbs are something you may be able to keep in smaller areas.
A general thing to keep in mind when choosing your pot is that your plant can always grow to fit into a bigger pot, however it cannot shrink and will feel stifled in a smaller pot. More space for your plant equates to more room to grow, and plenty of room to grow equals a happy plant!
While you’re also going to need to consider key aspects like drainage and container material, don’t be afraid to get creative! Choosing a container that is great for your plant can also be great for your over all decor and aesthetic choices. Don’t be afraid to get a little more involved with your containers as well – a gorgeous pot with no drainage can have holes drilled into it to make it suitable for planting. No drill but a gorgeous pot? Simply place a pot with proper drainage holes inside of the decorative pot. This way, your plant has a happy home, and you still get your desired look.
Drainage and container material are crucial to the success of your garden. Should your container not have at least one hole on the bottom, you can drill one or a few, as mentioned. No drainage may cause water-logging, drowning your poor plant! Some plants, such as succulents, favor a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot in addition to the drainage hole which promotes further draining of any excess liquid and prevents the roots from rotting.
Which material to choose for containers?
Container material is another aspect that requires consideration. While clay and terra cotta pots have a classic, beautiful look, they are fragile, especially in locations where the contracting and expanding caused by changing temperatures can cause breakage or cracks. Metal containers may add a modern look, however keep in mind that they are incredibly sensitive to temperature change, which may not prove beneficial to your plant. Plastic, fiberglass, wood, and concrete all can prove durable – much needed if your garden is outside – as well as stylish. These materials will likely make the best selections when you take up container gardening.
Choosing your soil
When it comes to what you’re putting your plants in, you’re going to want a custom combination of potting mix and soil to ensure that your plants get the nutrients they need. Regardless of plant type, you need a soil and potting mix combination that will allow for root spreading, moisture retention, air circulation, and as mentioned, nutrients.
You may want to consider one with fertilizer built in, which will add to the initial ease of potting your plants, however feel free to add fertilizer to your initial mixture, so that you have it to add later as needed.
The shade “problem”
In an area with a lot of shade or limited sunlight? Don’t let this deter you from creating your dream container garden. Plenty of plants can thrive in low or little light. Similarly, adding plants to a shady or darker area can actually brighten the spot and bring some life where previously there was none. Use decorative pots for container gardening to compliment colorful foliage, adding spice and some DIY decor to your area.
Flowers that grown in shade include darling forget-me-nots, fuschias, snap dragons, and the delicately stunning lily-of-the-valley. Also consider english ivy for greenery, or parsley, cilantro, and chives as far as herbs go. Shade problem solved!
Caring for your container garden
Once you’ve got your plants set up with their soil in their containers, you will need to begin the process of caring for them. Keep in mind that container gardens will need more frequent watering than traditional styles of gardening would, however the specific amount does depend on the individual plant type and size. Another thing to note is that because your garden is on a smaller scale, you may need to trim or clip plants a little more often that you would otherwise. Don’t let this scare you as it doesn’t necessarily mean more work, it just means a different kind of attentiveness is necessary.
Container gardening is very rewarding – we hope you turn proud gardener with these handy tips!