If you don’t have much room in your yard for a garden…or you don’t have the time to prepare and tend flowerbeds…or you just want to extend the beauty of living plants to hardscaped areas, growing plants in containers is the answer.
Don’t confine your thinking to just flowers, because herbs, vegetables, and even small shrubs can be successfully grown in containers. A basket of impatiens will add cheerful color to a shaded porch, for instance, but also think about potted dwarf evergreens lining a walk or a group of containers with herbs growing just outside your kitchen door.
Just choose plants that will flourish where you’re placing the containers (mainly a question of how much direct sun they’ll receive), then pot them properly.
Check out our step-by-step project on planting a containter garden to help you get your plants happily situated in containers. For ideas on what to plant, visit your local garden center.
Plants grown in containers do have a few special requirements:
- Porosity. The potting mix must be porous enough to allow air, water, and nutrients to easily reach the roots, but not so porous that it can’t retain moisture and nutrients.
- Nutrition. All plants need essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to thrive, but container plants have special needs. Because nutrients are leached out of containers more quickly than from in-ground soil, container plants need more frequent feedings or a potting mix that contains plant food.
- Moisture retention. Too much or too little water are the top two reasons for potted plant failures.
Soil from the yard is unlikely to meet these requirements, so it should not be used for potting plants. Instead, use a good-quality potting mix, which helps provide an excellent growing environment by protecting plants against over- or under-watering. It’s also fortified with plant food to provide the plant with the nutrients essential for healthy growth.
Using your imagination, carefully selected plants, and a good potting mix, you can create a delightful container garden almost anywhere outdoors!
Container gardening is a great activity for kids. Decorate some plain terra-cotta pots with craft paint, and let the kids pick out a plant for their new pot.