Tips for Container Gardening

Combat Covid-19 Blues with Container Gardening

I. Why use containers? Ease of use, can plant earlier if move in or cover on cold nights, any one can grow this way, no matter how little space, light, or cash you have.

II. The Basics of a Well-designed Container Garden 

A. Materials:

1. A clean container, anything if it has good drainage. Clean with soapy water then rinse.

2. A filler like rock, cans, plastic pots, compost, perlite or soil only.

3. An appropriate soil mixture. Good drainage is key!

4. Trowel and shovel for big pots.

5. Plants!

B. The rule of threes with SPILLERS, THRILLERS, and FILLERS 

For ornamental pots:

SPILLERS: Sedum, Sweet potato vines, Bacopa, Million Bells, Petunias, Nasturtiums, Geraniums, Ivy, Lobelias, Verbenas

THRILLERS: Upright flowers (Poppies & Tickseeds), Grasses, Sedges, Asters, Coleus, Croton Bromeliads, Caladiums

FILLERS: Dusty miller, Impatiens, Geraniums, Begonias, Amaranth, Black-eyed Susan, Petunias, Alyssum

C. Color Coordination—Use the color wheel just as you would on an art project. 

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue

Secondary Colors: Green, Purple, and Orange Warm Colors: Yellow, Orange, and Red

Cool Colors: Purple, Blue, and Green

Complementary Colors: Purple and Yellow; Red and Green; Blue and Orange (Or a Rainbow of Color!)

D. Choose leaf shape and foliage to complement one another

E. Other items to think about: Where to store the arrangement if overwintering all or part of it? Do all the plants in the pot have the same sun, water, and/or soil requirement? Are you planting perennials or vegetables in pots? If so, deeper pots are better for perennials while shallower ones work just fine for strictly flowering annuals. 

III. Maintaining Your Container 

Quick tips: Keep it evenly moist and well-watered. Refresh soil every year. Cut back roots if need to keep it the same size or upsize pot every 3-5 years. Use a mix of sand, compost, and soil or a pre-prepared potting soil from a store. Amend soil quarterly.

IV. Growing Vegetables in Containers—can be just as beautiful as non-edibles but beware of overcrowding.

Some plants that do well in containers: Greens, Herbs, Edible Flowers, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplants, Peppers, Strawberries, Peas, Citrus Trees, Fruiting Shrubs, Dwarf Fruit Trees, and Olives.

However, beware of pests. A good control: insecticidal soap (1/2 tsp dish soap in one regular-sized spray bottle). Rubbing alcohol can be used for scale in citrus.

V. Overwintering Your Container Plants: Store in a garage or basement with heavy mulch such as straw, cover the whole container in cloth or bubble wrap (top and bottom), or bury it in a hole then mulch over the hole. Water every few weeks while the plants are dormant. 

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