What Can Be Grown In A Container Garden?
The short answer is almost anything, in moderation. It is possible to grow a vast range of plants in a well-planned container garden, including various types of food plants. As you are likely to be limited for space, it is even more important than usual to start out with a clear plan for your container garden and to know where you are going to put each plant. Some will need deeper, larger, wider or longer containers than others.
It is possible to grow a surprisingly wide variety of vegetables in a container garden, often in quite modestly-sized containers. Look for plants that grow upwards, don’t require a huge root space, and have a reasonable yield per square foot of ground. Examples of food plants that grow well in containers in a temperate climate include tomatoes (especially cherry), beans, peppers, chilies, lettuce, spring onions, shallots, carrots, radishes, eggplant, strawberries, grapes and berries.
Almost any herb will grow well in a limited space, although some tend to spread quite fast – sage and chives, for example – so it can be a good idea to isolate these in their own pot. The following herbs are rather easy to grow in containers: parsley, sage, chives, rosemary, mint, thyme, basil and coriander.
Many people simply wish to add color and decoration to their limited outdoor space. Containers are perfect for many types of flowers. The best choices for you will depend on the location of the container and the climate where you live, but some good starting points might be bulbs (daffodils, tulips, crocus and iris), perennials (lupines, chrysanthemums, gypsophila and columbine), annuals (pansies, petunias, geraniums, lobelia, marigolds, nasturtium, begonia, salvia and periwinkle).
How to Choose Containers
Containers come in all shapes and sizes, from small pots that can sit on a windowsill to permanent installations that can be built into your patio or yard. They are made of a range of materials:
Plastic Containers – Plastic planters and window boxes are readily available in a variety of sizes. While plastic pots don’t quite have the visual appeal of ceramic or wooden containers, they are inexpensive and practical, and very suitable for use in a container garden.
Clay/Terracotta/Glazed Ceramic Containers – The most traditional material for plant containers is clay. Clay pots come in all shapes and sizes, and many people find they have more visual appeal than plastic. On the other hand, they are much more expensive, breakable and heavy. Additionally, since clay vessels are porous if they are not glazed, moisture can escape through the surface of the pot. This means that plants in unglazed clay containers will need watering more often.
Wooden Containers – The other principle material used to make plant containers is wood. These have the advantage of being custom-made to fit into odd-shaped or large spaces; something not true of clay or plastic. In addition, wood can be stained or finished to match the wood decking of a patio or porch, or perhaps the railings of a balcony. When buying or constructing wooden containers, it is important that you do not stain or finish the wood with creosote as it is toxic to plants. Try to use hardwoods such as redwood or cedar; softer woods will rot easily.
It’s All in the Soil
When creating a container garden, it is important to use the right kind of soil. In most cases, soil straight from the garden won’t do.
For smaller containers, the easiest way to get suitable soil is to buy some bags of potting soil from your local garden center. It should be light and loamy, and ideally have some peat in it.
If you need a larger amount of potting soil and you would like to save some money, try making it yourself with equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil and peat moss.
Watering, Drainage and Nutrition
Plant containers should have some drainage holes in their bases. If not, you should create some or pot the plant in another container that has holes and then place this pot inside the un-drained container.
It’s important to prevent your plants from becoming waterlogged. If the containers are placed on a solid surface, raise them about an inch off the surface in order to allow water to drain freely from the base.
Plants grown in containers inevitably do not get quite as much nutrition as those in the ground, and so it is important to fertilize or feed your plants on a regular basis; diluted mixtures of plant food can be applied every two or three days, or fertilizer can be added to the soil every couple of weeks.
Container gardens are an extremely flexible and satisfying way of making use of a small amount of space. Getting the best results in your environment will require a little experimentation, but you will probably be surprised at the speed and quality of the results you can achieve.
For further information, visit www.Garden-Fountains.com.
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