Container gardening is a great option for any deck or patio. You can grow herbs, vegetables and more without a ton of space or much of a green thumb. The key is doing a little prepwork before you’ve even touched a seed or seedling. We’ll show you how!
Location, location, location
The easiest way to begin your container garden project is to determine where your plants are actually going to go. One of the benefits of container gardening is that even after your plants are established, you still have some flexibility when it comes to placement.
It’s important to consider your climate when choosing where to put your plants. Environmental factors like light, temperature and wind can make or break your container garden. Make sure to keep an eye on the amount of sunlight your space gets, and think about ways to shield your plants from high wind.
Picking your pots
There’s a wide variety of planters out there, and you might be surprised to learn that there actually is a difference beyond aesthetics. Container material can have a huge impact on whether your garden thrives.
Plastic is lightweight, but it can deteriorate in the sun. Terracotta is much stronger, but it dries out quickly, so you’ll need to water your plants more frequently.
Other containers like ceramic pots or salvaged items are great, but they will require drainage holes. Drill a hole at least ½-inch in diameter into the bottom of containers to ensure proper drainage.
Be mindful of dark-colored containers, which will absorb heat and damage fragile root systems.
Sterilize all surfaces before you plant. This keeps your new plants safe from any disease that might be lurking in your containers’ nooks and crannies.
Use bigger pots for plants that grow larger and take longer to mature. Larger plants like tomatoes will need support from cages or stakes from early on.
Get the dirt
The key is to keep soil aerated and well-drained while still maintaining an appropriate level of moisture for the plant.
Don’t repurpose garden soil and use it by itself, no matter how well plants grow in it elsewhere. Putting garden soil in a pot has a detrimental effect on its drainage and aeration, so you’ll need to supplement. Try a mix of one part garden soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite for optimal results. You’ll also need to be careful to use garden soil that’s free from weed seeds, insects and disease.
You might find that container soil, sometimes called soilless or artificial media, is a better fit for you. It’s often made up of vermiculite, peat, bark or ground coconut hulls. Check with your local nursery to see which is best for your specific plants.
Make your garden ideas come to life!
Once you’ve determined the location of your container garden, picked out your pots and decided on potting media, it’s time for the fun part—buying plants and watching them grow!
Proper care will depend on your climate and the plant species you’ve chosen, so be sure to check with your local nursery for helpful hints. With a little effort, you’ll soon have a gorgeous container garden to enjoy all season long.
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