Tips on Container Gardening

   

Container Gardening is wonderful in that you can grow plants almost anywhere with a very minimal amount of space. Even those people fortunate to have large gardens and yards almost always enjoy a few setting that involve some kind of container grown plant. Window boxes are very popular and add a beautiful addition to your garden. The container gardener is limited only by his or her imagination.

 

Choosing a Container - Preparing the Containers - Choose Your Container Plants - Planting and Care of Containers

Choosing a Container

The first rule of thumb in container gardening is to match the container to the space, if your containers are too small, group a number of them together . An odd number of containers is more visually appealing. Remember that very small pots restrict the root area and dry out the plant roots very quickly. The size and number of plants to be grown will determine the size of the container used.

Then you must match your containers to the surroundings. An urn with more classical lines for a formal garden . Choose wooden, terra cotta or ceramic pots with less formal lines for a more casual look, or if you are on a budget choose plastic containers and use a little paint to decorate them to suit their environment.

Design Principles
There are several design principles to take into consideration when planning your container gardens.

Focus
The point or area where the eye is drawn first. To achieve balance place the focus below the tallest point. Develop focus by using large, coarse, or bright colored plant material in that area, all material should radiate out from the focus.

Balance
Creates a feeling of stability.
Symmetrical balance has equal, almost identical elements on each side of a central axis, with the highest point over the center.
Asymmetrical balance is when the two sides of the central axis are not mirror images but have the same visual weight.

Form
Vary the form of the plant material you choose; use tall linear species to add height, mounded species to add mass, and low growing, cascading species to fill in, add depth, and soften the edges of the container.

Texture
Add coarse, medium, and fine textured plants together. Three to five species will achieve an assortment of forms and textures.

Rhythm
Repeat color at regular intervals around the outside of a round container or along the length of a long rectangular container. Repeat color in several containers to "tie" them together. Graceful lines of plant leaves add flow and rhythm.

Proportion
Use larger or more plants in larger containers, and less or smaller plants in small containers. Rule of thumb is the height of the tallest plant should not exceed 1X-2X the height of the container excluding pedestals and "air-fairy" sprigs. Best to use odd numbers of plants.

Preparing the Containers

Cover the pot's drain hole with landscape fabric, old window screen, or pantyhose to help retain the soil.

If you have a large container, and wish to keep its weight down, add a layer of fill before adding the planting mix. Styrofoam packing peanuts, old egg cartoons or the cell packs your purchased plants arrive in all will work well. Again use a layer of an old window screen or landscape fabric to prevent the soil moving down into the fill.

Never use pure garden soil in pots. Instead, pruchase a good quality soilless mix containing water conversing crystals . Or purchase the crystals separately and make your own mix, using some soilless mix, your own compost and a small amount of garden soil.

Potting Soil Recipes

Choose Your Container Plants

Dracaena, Canna, or Ornamental Grasses will give your container some height and add some textural greenery.

Use filler plants such as petunias, begonias, geraniums or lobellia .

For folliage use folliage plants such as coleus and dusty miller.

To soften the edges and camoflage the pot try use trailing plaints such as sweet potato vine, swedish ivy or trailing nasturtiums.

Match your plants to the location, sun or shade, but don't be afraid to experiemnt with combinations you may be surprised at the results.

Planting and Care of Containers

Don't scrimp on your plants, use lots of plants, not all will bloom at the same time, and you will be rewarded through out the season with different folliage and blooms.

A covering of sphagnun moss will keep the soil from drying out. It will also look quite good and prevent soil from splashing on the folliage in rain or when watering.

Water your containers when the top is dry down to about 1 inch, soak the planter once then again several minutes later.

The best time to water is the morning, the plant can make good use of the water during the afternoon heat.

Water on the leaves overnight can lead to fungal diseases, and watering during the heat of the day can cause burn marks on the leaves.

Fertilize often with a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Use a weak solution once or twice a week.

Pinch back the fillers to promote compact growth, trim vines to prevent them from taking over.

Enjoy your creation, and make note of interesting combinations, or failures for future reference.

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