Container gardens are a smart way to add seasonal color to a home’s porches, decks, and patios. They’re easy and quick to assemble and relatively affordable. Take care to choose the right pot as well as pick the right plants to achieve your desired look. Here’s a quick tutorial.
What is a container garden?
A container garden holds a variety of plants and flowers – edible or decorative – in a pot as opposed to planting them in the ground. Pots come in many sizes and materials to fit your budget needs and design preferences. These small gardens can be moveable or placed in one spot.
The options are nearly endless: wood, ceramic, wicker baskets, galvanized metal, terra cotta, and plastic are all fairly common. More whimsical options include old tires, trash cans, wine barrels, and even vintage clawfoot tubs and wheelbarrows. Weather conditions may influence your choice of material. Metal containers hold heat – problematic for some plants; porous terra cotta pots will dry out faster than other types. Some materials like plastics and rubber will leach toxins into edible plants. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with glazed ceramic pots, which come in every color and style imaginable. Finally, all pots should have drainage holes at the bottom.
Container Size and Plant Size
Plants will typically survive longer and need less frequent watering if placed in larger containers. It’s always wise to go bigger to allow for plant growth. When in doubt, ask your garden center expert for the maximum size and space requirements needed for the plants you’ve chosen. If you have a container in mind, ask for recommendations for plants that will thrive in that size pot. Also, don’t forget to account for your plants’ leaves extending past the edge of your pot.
Plant Container Placement
Pots can be raised on legs or placed on a tabletop. They can sit directly on your porch or patio surface, or they can hang on a wall or railing, giving you many options. Also, pay attention to how much sun or shade your container will get at different times of the day, then use that information to choose plants. Think of your container like outdoor artwork. Place it where you will be able to see it most clearly so you can benefit from its beauty.
Container plants need potting soil. A good multi-use potting soil contains a combination of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite or vermiculite. In general, potting soil should be light. Avoid heavy soils that may contain sand as a filler. The bag should specify soilless potting mix.
Finally, when choosing your plants, make sure they are compatible. All the plants in your container need to prefer the same amounts of sun or shade, as well as the same potting soil and watering conditions.