Successful Container Gardens: In the north or in the tropics, you can create a beautiful container garden!
You don’t need an acre to create a wonderful garden. Container gardens can provide wonderful sources of enjoyment for gardeners.
Just wait until you see the first sign of greenery from that tiny seed you planted less than a week ago or that orchid bloom unfold. What a thrill!
Numerous reasons exist for building container gardens. Among these are: they are easy to move, colors can be changed continually by changing the plants, a small amount of available space, terrible soil, lack of time to tend a large garden, controlling a plant’s aggression, and bringing the outdoors in.
Planning Is an Important Step
Planning a container garden, whether it’s an indoor or an outdoor one, is just as important as planning a larger garden. Plan what type of look you want. For instance, you might want a patio full of vegetables and fruits. Or you might want a little formal English garden.Topiaries, ivy, a sundial, and a small garden bench can give wonderful moments in the sun to catch up on your latest novel. For a tropical paradise, you can include a bird cage with a fake or real parrot, a water fountain, ferns, bamboo, perhaps a small palm, and an orchid in a hanging basket.
Determine how large an area you want your container garden to cover. Decide how many large. medium, and small plants you want to include in your container garden. Designate a water resource; if it is a faucet, get a good hose. If it is a sink, buy yourself a watering can. Have fun; make a sketch of your garden. See how close to your sketch your garden can come.
A very effective method of making your container garden appear to be larger than it is is to employ tiering. By placing smaller pots in front of medium and large pots, you can make it appear as though you have a larger garden since the tiering adds depth to a small space.
Plan whether you want to commence with seeds, seedlings, clippings, or full-grown plants.
Another thing you can do is plan the mix of plants you want to enjoy. Plants complement each other in different ways. For instance, you can plant sea grapes which are quite wind resistant near bougainvillea, which are not. The combination works wonders for the boungainvillea, since the sea grapes form a protective barrier for it.
If you are planning to create an outdoor container garden, consider also the weather that you experience in your area. Do you have sudden, violent storms that would necessitate bringing all the containers inside? If so, you want a minimal number of pots. And remember that if you do have to bring them inside, the bugs inherent to outdoor containers will be coming inside with them.
When you plan your container garden ahead, you can compensate for problems you might encounter down the path. And speaking of paths, they too are important. You might want to plan the construction of a small path that leads to your watering source. Such a path might prevent the development of a muddy area around your hose’s end. If you have a mudhole at your watering source, you are not going to want to water and then your plants will suffer. Plus, paths and walkwaysserve as focal points for plants which surround them.Walkways may be constructed of various materials, including mulch or stepstones.
The Three Most Important Factors
Begin with Knowledge
Three factors are critical to the success of your container garden. All of these are dependent upon the knowledge you have about the plants in your container garden. First, you must learn about the plants you propose to use. You definitely need to know: 1) how much light the plant requires, 2) how much water the plant requires, and 3) how large the plant is when it is mature.
Obtain a source of information. It may be a book or magazine, a master gardener who is available at your county extension service, a web site such as this one, or a friend who has grown the plants you are interested in.
Make sure that you can provide the amount of light the plant you want to grow demands.
If your favorite plant that you want to put on your balcony requires shade and your balcony is in the shade 90% of the day, then you can wager that your balcony is the perfect spot for that beauty.
Often, plants are planted without their owners knowing what the watering requirements of that plant are. Granted, information about these requirements are not easy to obtain. It still amazes me how so many nurseries provide minimal written information on plants that they are selling to customers, customers who may have bought plants from them for years.
However, often these same nurseries are perfectly willing to give you information orally. Carry a notebook with you when you go to the nursery to purchase your plants. Ask the nursery employees for information about the plants you are purchasing. Write down theiranswers in such a way that you can decipher later what they said. Perhaps you might put answers on your computer and store it in a database.
If you are an extremely busy individual who travels often for your job, do not purchase plants that require watering daily, unless you have household help or a very accommodating spouse. Purchase plants that do not need a lot of watering. Some plants such as Spathophyllums, or peace lilies, need constant watering, while corn plants can thrive despite a much less vigorous watering schedule. Luckily, the Spathophyllums give a very apparent sign that they are thirsty — their leaves will wilt.
To check on the water content of a pot, you can either stick your finger into the dirt or push a pencil down into the dirt, removing it to see how moist the wood has become. If the plant likes moist conditions and your finger or the pencil tells you the soil in the container is dry, water. If, on the other hand, your test indicates that the soil is dry, wait a while and recheck the soil conditions.
Determine the Maturity Size of Your Plant
Finally, know the size your plant will reach when mature. Of course, older plants are more valuable and so it is less expensive to purchase plants when they are small. However, that necessitates knowing the mature size your plant will attain.
Do not for instance try to plant a banyan tree in a pot in your living room. It will grow and grow like Jack’s giant beanstalk and in the end, if you live in northern climes you will have to get rid of the plant, or if you live in a tropical area, place it outdoors.
Besides the fact that you cannot keep huge trees in your house long-term, you will have to repot them as they grow larger. Not only can this become a nuisance, but it can also become quite expensive to continue to purchase new, larger pots.
Fertilize For Happiness
Make the plants in your container garden happy by regularly fertilizing them with liquid fertilizer. One gardening expert recommends using Miracle Gro or Peters Special every two weeks; do not do it less than once a month. Follow the instructions; do not use too much fertilizer or you will “burn” the plants.
Start Out Right
Too often I receive panic-stricken notes from individuals who don’t know what type of soil to put their favorite plants in. When you first repot a plant, choose a pot that will enable you to provide your plant with good drainage. That means the pot must have holes in the bottom so that water can drain out of it. No plant likes to have wet feet for extended periods of time, surprisingly even tropicals. And if you do not provide good drainage, bad fungi that are harmful to your beloved plant are likely to develop.
Depending upon the maturity size of the plant, pick a pot that will be large enough for the plant to grow comfortably for a while. Just as humans don’t prosper in rooms that are small and cramped, neither do plants enjoy being confined in too small a space in their containers.
To ensure good drainage, place 2 inches of broken brick or rocks in the bottom third of your container and on top of that, put the best potting soil possible.
If you are placing your containers inside or sometimes even outside, you should place a container below it so that water does not run out of the bottom.
Sit Back and Enjoy
Though the rewards you receive from the plants in your container garden can be immediate, learn to be patient. For instance, a fruit tree will not produce fruit for its first three years.
You’ve done your planning, your planting, your nuturing — now is the time to enjoy that lovely container garden that can bring you all the dreams you had for a garden.
So take the time ahead you need to plan what you want in your container garden, thereby giving you a goal to strive for and in the end, the results you want.