|I think I need these!|
Outside container gardens have many benefits: Growing plants even though you don't have a yard. Covering or blocking something ugly. Bringing annual color to an otherwise drab spot. Allowing color to be moved. Making it easier to water and fertilize annuals.
Pots can have color coordination, size and style. They can be any old piece of junk that will hold soil and can be watered - called shabby chic in the decorating magazines. It can be a sculpture. It may be attached to the house (as in window boxes), free standing or incorporated into other hardscapes.
The trick of container gardening isn't usually the container or the plants. The trick is making the container hospitable for a whole summer's worth of beauty.
|These are metal sculptures with pots|
on top to look like flowering trees.
|Tired of your water feature? Plant it.|
Every plant in a single container must have compatible needs. Water, fertilizer, sun and space needs have to be the same or something will die.
With the exception of some sedum, spurge or arid plants, most will need to be fertilized on a weekly basis. Even if you use a potting medium with fertilizer included, it will be used up in about a month. Use a light mix of water soluble all purpose fertilizer for annuals and don't wait until they show need. By then it will be too late to bring them back to robust beauty. Don't over fertilizer or make it stronger in the hopes it will make the plants even better. Too much will kill the plant. Fertilizing is especially necessary if you are growing vegetables in pots.
Vegetables in pots may need pinching if you've bought regular sized plants. Dwarf varieties usually don't need as much pinching. Most herbs don't need much pinching except to pinch off flowers to keep it from going to seed (unless you want seeds such as in dill) or in hopes of getting a few more weeks of beauty. Basil tends to get leggy towards the end of summer and regular pinching may prevent this. Use a really deep and heavy pot for vegetable plants with large heavy vegetables or for vines. Putting a couple of brick in the bottom may help keep it from toppling over.
As the season progresses, the plant roots will start to fill the container making it almost impossible for it to live without daily (sometimes twice daily) water and weekly fertilizer. This is especially true if you've planted in a small or shallow container. There may come a time in late summer where there is no more hope for the container's plants and you can either compost or dig a small hole in your other beds, plop the thing in and hope for a little late season color before it dies.
Some gardeners will pluck out a dead plant and insert a new plant. I've never had good luck with this because it disturbs the other roots and the container is usually so root bound that the new roots don't stand a chance. I break off the dead/dying and insert an ornament such as a little bird house, glass ball or some other little thing to try to look like I meant it to be there.
|Little pots will need more watching and care.|
I suggest watering pots until water flows out the drainage holes. Then come back to that pot in about half an hour and slowly water again until it flows out. The double watering achieves good saturation whereas the one big watering may simply be running out quickly without the entire soil ball getting moist.
Use water soluble fertilizer on your pot about half an hour after the above good soaking. Don't fertilize until it runs out - it's wasteful and will end up fertilizing whatever plants catch the runoff. If the soil is already damp, the fertilizer will go throughout the soil and not just soaked up by the top few inches (where it does no good and can even cause roots to reach up and not down.)
|I love my old wash tub|
Pots: Is one enough? Is a hundred too many? I've seen beauty in both. What is never beautiful is the gardener who is into all plants every spring but never quite gets them all potted leaving little bunches of dead plants in plastic pots everywhere. Or the plants put so beautifully in pots and never cared for again showing a bunch of dead plants all summer.
|One of my favorite white and blue combos.|
Do the little glass balls on hallow stems really work to keep plants watered? Not really. They get plugged, they either leak out all at once or not at all. BUT they do look pretty - they're just not a watering tool.
A note on hanging containers: They dry out MUCH faster than other pots because of the wind/air all around them. They will need much closer observation and care all summer.
|Fiber lining holds things in place but the soil will dry out faster.|
Hope you enjoy the pictures of containers in this article. Seriously makes you want to rush out and plant something today - except it was below freezing last night.