Container Gardening is growing your favorite plants in a container. Containers come in various sizes so you can grow flowers, perennials, and even small shrubs in a container. If you have plants that multiply quickly, such as Bearded Irises, you can plant the extras in a container. There are many benefits to container gardening … One of the benefits of container gardening is you can move the container to different area of your landscape and/or garden. Four benefits of container gardening are:
- Protect the plants from pests, such as deer, rabbits, gophers, voles and moles
- If you have limited garden space, you can use containers to provide lots of beauty in a small space!
- Planting is easier in containers because you are not digging holes in hard ground. Containers have a mixture of soil that you have provided, and the soil mixture is easy to dig and plant.
- You can beautify a different area of your landscape or garden by simply moving the container. Just be sure that the plant receives the appropriate amount of sunlight/shade that it prefers.
Plant in Containers
Clean your container with mild dish detergent and water. Fill the container with a soil mixture appropriate for your plants. We use two-thirds top soil such as Michigan Peat 5540 Garden Magic Top Soil, 40-Pound, and one-third peat moss such as Espoma PTM8 8-Quart Organic Peat Moss. If you have purchased plants from a garden nursery, they will be in small plastic containers. Gradually squeeze the plant from the bottom of the container, careful not to damage the plan, roots, or neck of the plant. Please do not pull the plant from the top because it may damage the plant. Once you have carefully removed the plant from the temporary container, use a knife to cut the roots if they are wrapped around the rootball. Make one slice, length-wise, per side. Use your hand or the spade to move the soil mixture so that you can place the rootball in the hole. The neck of the plant should be level with the ground. Fill in around the plant with soil mixture. Please do not cover the neck of the plant. The top of the soil should be just below the neck of the plant. Use your hands to gently pack the soil around the plant and smooth out the soil. Water the soil around the plant. Smooth out the soil again. Water the plant everyday for the first week so that the roots can grow. Wait for a week or two before applying fertilizer.
Fertilize in Containers
Since containers have a finite amount of soil, it is important to amend the soil with fertilizer on a regular basis. Fertilizer provides a boost of nutrients to the plant. It is important to fertilize plants on a consistent basis so that they remain healthy. Get to know your plants so you know how much fertilizer they need and how often they need to be fertilized.
What Type of Fertilizer?
We have an excellent success with an organic fertilizer, Espoma PT4 4-Pound Plant-Tone Organic 5-3-3 Plant Food.
How to Fertilize
It is very important to provide the correct amount of fertilizer because too much fertilizer will kill the plant. All fertilizer products have instructions regarding how much to apply, however, we sprinkle a thin layer of fertilizer around each plant. We are careful about keeping the fertilizer off of the plant itself because it will damage/burn the plant. Fertilizer is very toxic, so be sure to use gloves when working with fertilizer. Also, be careful about inhaling the fumes. It’s best to work outside when pouring fertilizer into a container, so there is plenty of air circulation. We use old coffee creamer containers to hold the fertilizer. It makes it easy to lightly pour the fertilizer around the plant. After sprinkling a light layer of fertilizer around the plant, use a gardening tool, such as a claw (Fiskars 3 Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set (7067)), to scratch the fertilizer into the top half inch of soil. Always water the plant immediately after applying fertilizer, so that the fertilizer doesn’t burn the plant or roots. For beginner gardeners, it better to apply too little fertilizer than too much. Too much fertilizer will kill the plant, so error on the side of too little.
How Often to Water in Containers
Plants in containers need watering more often than plants in the ground. Why? There is a limited amount of soil in a container so it dries out quicker. As soon as the soil feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water. To learn more about watering (and not over-watering) plants, click here.
Pruning in Containers
There is virtually no difference between pruning plants in containers and pruning plants in the ground. There are 3 keys to pruning:
- Clean pruning shears with soap and water
- Make sure blade is sharp
- Cut on the angle so that rainwater runs off the stem. if rainwater pools at the tip of the stem, the bacteria could lead to disease.
For more on planting, watch our How to Plant playlist! To learn more about fertilizing, watch our How to Fertilize playlist! For details on pruning, watch our How to Prune playlist on YouTube! Check with your local Home Depot, Lowes, online Burpee Gardening or eBay for their selection of flowers that do well in containers!