Summer Flowers Bold

Aug 15, 2016

From Garden to Kitchen: Container Gardening Tips from the Pros

Container gardening continues to grow in popularity among landscapers and homeowners, thanks to its versatility and relative ease of care.

When utilized properly, container gardening can effectively spruce up large property landscapes, outdoor living areas, patios, and pool houses, while providing quirky, quaint, or distinguished splashes of seasonal color throughout the year.

Just getting started with your creation? Take stock in these choice container gardening tips from the pros:

  • Bigger sometimes is better. At least in terms of pot-selection. A larger container means more space for soil and, subsequently, the root systems of your plants. Soil is heavy, however, and can render a planter immobile. Keep that in mind if you hope to change your layout frequently. Also, ceramic and clay pottery will dry out more quickly than plastic or glazed. Quick tip: Don’t feel obligated to purchase expensive pottery. Almost any container featuring drainage holes will suffice. Get creative.
  • Drainage is essential. Any container you choose should be equipped with drainage holes. If holes are not present, feel free to make your own. If your soil becomes too wet, the roots of your plant will rot and the plant will perish. One widely held belief is that lining your pot with gravel, stones, or sand will prevent spillage of soil while assisting drainage. This is not true. On the other hand, elevating your container is helpful, as air circulation below a pot has been shown to be beneficial.
  • More soil means increased water retention. This ultimately leads to healthier plants. Always use potting soil, never gardening soil, and fill your container of choice until approximately two inches from the top.
  • Keep things evenly moist. When the top of your soil is dry to the touch, get the watering can. Water your plant until liquid can be seen escaping from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to overwater, however, especially in cooler weather.
  • Have fun, but do you research. In other words, read the plant tags at the nursery and consider your environment before grouping plants and flowers together. If you have questions, seek the advice of a nurseryman, horticulturalist or landscape design firm. Annuals (plants that live for one growing season), perennials (plants that return every year), and tropicals (plants that grow in hot, humid climates) each have specific needs, such as hardiness zone, irrigation, and spacing. Group like-minded plants together.
  • Don’t overcrowd. Crowded pots will shorten plant life, cause the container to dry out faster, and can contribute to disease. Traditional planting methods suggest three or four plants in 10 to 12 inch pots; five to eight in 16 to 20 inch planters, and so on.
  • Feed plants regularly to maximize potential. Opt for a quality, slow-release fertilizer, and introduce it along with the soil when you first plant. (If you have already planted, fertilizer can be top-dressed, or sprinkled along the surface of the soil.) Make sure to follow the directions on the bag.
  • Let the sun shine in. You can find a plant that will flourish in almost any amount of light, but container plants will still require sunshine to thrive. Herbs and greens do well in part shade.

McHale Landscape Design believes that gardens of all kinds are food for the soul. We own and operate our own nursery, and our horticulturalists can offer a number of container gardening tips to fit your landscape needs.

Contact us today to discuss how your container garden should grow.