Containers: An Upside of Gardening.

August 6, 2011

A container garden is exactly what the name implies, a garden that exists inside of a container. It can be a bunch of plants or just one, herbs, annuals, veggies, or perennials in a bucket, clay pot, or even an old wheelbarrow, depending on your style…

Container gardening is an easy way to venture into gardening world without making a commitment to a full-fledged garden. It is a fun activity for kids, who can adopt a planter the same way they adopt and take responsibility for a pet.

Containers can play a prominent role in urban landscapes. They provide flexibility and allow us to grow plants while being less dependent on sun exposure and available space. And if you have a shady garden, but love sun-loving plants, consider moving your planter as the sun moves throughout the year.

Utilize containers to create accents throughout the garden and add interest and structure to a landscape. Add a splash of color to otherwise monotonous landscaping or a bit of fun and whimsy to a formal garden. Creating a container garden for your space is simple but there are a few things you should consider

There is plenty to choose from when it comes to material and size. Common terra-cotta pot is beautiful and versatile but has a tendency to dry out quickly. Plastic pots retain water slightly better  but  don’t have the classic look of terra-cotta or concrete and they are not sustainable. Concrete pots retain water well and can range in style from simple to complex, with variety of sizes to choose from, but they are relatively expensive and definitely heavy.   Consider using a plant caddy to make it easier to move it around. And of course there are many less conventional pots – an old watering can, a used wheelbarrow or a barrel, all sorts of baskets and boxes. You are only limited by your imagination.

After you have collected your container or containers, your next thought should be soil. Potted plants need soil that can drain easily and hold moisture at the same time because plant roots need both water and air. Try good quality organic potting soil or create your own potting soil recipe. Use organic compost and add coconut coir, touch of humate, greensand, dry molasses, and earthworm castings for an excellent potting soil. Coconut coir is a natural fiber obtained from the husk of coconut. It is most commonly seen in floor mats, or as flower basket lining  but can be effectively used in as soil additive as well. Its course fibers hold moisture for longer amounts of time allowing your plant to absorb more water, instead of it only washing through. 

Naturally certain plants are more suitable for container gardening than others. Generally plants with shallow root system do well in pots. Annuals, herbs and some vegetables are great candidates for containers. Lavender does very well in containers when allowed good drainage. Patchouli is another favorite that is great for making soaps and candles. Curry plant, another winner, is very fragrant and a grayish color that adds contrast when combined with other plants. Basil is not only attractive, but provides wonderful scent and is a versatile cooking herb. Oregano can be planted on the edges of a planter to drape over it as it cascades down. Peppers do great in containers, while tomatoes tend to do better in the ground. Annuals add variety and allow for frequent changes in colors and textures. Many perennials, shrubs or even small trees do well in large containers.

Remember, container gardening is fun and can take any landscape to the next level, making it more colorful and diverse. For all of us that like to putter in the garden and make small changes to the landscape, container gardening allows us to explore different options, be playful and adventurous.

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