How to Start Container Gardening

Container gardening can be an extremely rewarding activity when done correctly. The benefits of this type of gardening include a well-structured garden and the chance to showcase your favourite plants and flowers.

Gardening in containers also serves a practical purpose. If you have limited space outside, containers can allow you to experiment with growing different flowers, plants and vegetables without the need for a huge back garden.

Whether your outdoor space is large or small, container gardening is guaranteed to add colour and interest to your home.

Keep in mind the following top tips when starting your next container gardening project…

Size of Containers

  • It is best to avoid containers that have narrow openings
  • Consider the size and number of plants that need to be grown and this will help you determine the size of container you should use
  • Remember that deep rooted vegetables will need deeper pots
  • Small porches and patios will work great with flower containers, despite the size of the space available. For instance, you could use hanging baskets, wooden barrels or planter boxes to help make the entrance to your house stand out
  • Bear in mind however that the smaller your container, the more prone it will be to drying out. This is because small containers mean less soil and more chance of losing moisture quickly
  • It is also worthwhile considering the material and features of your plant containers...

    Container Material and Design

  • Avoid materials that deteriorate quickly when exposed to elements such as UV sunlight. Cheap plastic is susceptible to this and terracotta pots can dry out very quickly
  • Wooden containers can be vulnerable to rot however redwood and cedar are good choices as they are relatively rot resistant. They can also be used without staining or painting
  • Another benefit of using wooden containers is that they can be built to suit the size and shape of the location they are going in. Wood treated with creosote or toxic compounds however should be avoided for container gardening as the vapours can damage the plants
  • Raised Vegetable Beds made from wood are ideal for growing your own veg. They can also be used for growing herbs and other types of plant. For handy tips on growing your own fruit and vegetables, visit Grow your Own Magazine Online.
  • Clay pots will need to be monitored closely for loss of moisture as clay is porous and water can be lost from the sides of the container
  • If you choose glazed ceramic pots, these will be an attractive addition to your garden. You must remember however that the pots will require several drainage holes
  • Growing your Plants

  • Drainage is extremely important when it comes to container gardening. Plants will die if they end up becoming waterlogged because of the lack of drainage. Therefore the material that you choose needs to be able to drain rapidly but retain enough moisture to keep the roots evenly moist. Either buy containers that have holes or try drilling them in yourself
  • You can use compost as the potting soil or buy ‘soilless’ potting mix to fill your containers. When adding soil to your containers, leave a 2 inch space between the top of the soil and the top of the container
  • Sunlight is very important for growing your container plants. Five hours of direct sunlight each day will typically be enough for most container plants, however some will require more. It is a good idea to water your plants daily, especially when they are exposed to hot, dry weather
  • Lighter potting mixes will require more frequent fertilizing as fertilizer washes out of the container when potting mix drains water. Provide your plants with plenty of nutrients and boosters such as liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed
  • What to Grow

  • There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing what to grow in your garden containers. Herbs such as basil, chives and thyme are a popular choice for pots and are ideal for growing in small spaces near to the kitchen door or on the windowsill
  • Examples of annuals that are suitable for containers include Periwinkle, Pansies, Coleus, Alyssum, Marigolds and Snapdragons. Create focal points with a container filled with a single species or mix colours and textures of plants to create a bold look in your garden or chosen space
  • So, if you are planning on carrying out some container gardening soon, let us know! Share with us your photos via Twitter, Facebook or Google + or leave a comment below with your top tip for getting it right.

    Related articles:

    Grow your Own - Create your Own Kitchen Garden


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