Monday, August 23, 2010

Five tips for successful container gardens

Plant selection To insure success be sure that all the plants you select have the same water, sun and soil requirements. Mixing cacti and impatiens that have nearly opposite requirements, for example, is a recipe for failure. Most plants have a range of conditions that they accept so you can “fudge it” a little, however to be sure each plant will thrive and look its best, try to match requirements as much as possible.

Think outside the box Selecting plants with an interesting mix of colors and textures or on an interesting theme is a great way to bring interest to the design but don’t over look the container itself. Using unexpected containers or colors is a great way to make an impact.

Filler material Potting soil is expensive. It isn’t necessary to fill the whole planter with it. In fact its usually best to start with a layer of other material to keep the soil from sinking or becoming too packed. Packing peanuts work very well because they allow drainage and prevent the soil from compacting. And since they are very light weight the planter won’t become too heavy.

Maintenance Planters dry out much faster than garden beds. Be prepared to water them almost every day. They also require more fertilizing than the garden does. It’s also important to pinch back or prune plants regularly so they don’t get too leggy or too big for the container.

Bringing it inside Containers are a great way to keep plants that aren’t hearty in your zone. At the end of the season they can easily be brought indoors. Some can be put on display. This is especially nice with herb gardens, so you can have fresh herbs all winter too. Even plants, like caladium or oxalis for example, that will go to sleep can be kept is a warm basement or garage. With occasional watering, they will be ready to go when the weather warms again.

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