According to the Garden Media Group, 16 million people began container gardening during the pandemic. Many were under the age of 35 are growing their veggies, fruits, and herbs in raised beds, containers, and produce bags.
Ideal for city dwellers, container gardening, is the practice of growing various plants (vegetables, shrubs, fruits, or flowers) only in compact, enclosed, and usually portable containers. It could be a pot, a box, a tub, a basket, a tin, a barrel, or a hanging basket. It can be located on the ground, in the air, or on your roof. It’s a terrific way to make the most of your space, boost your productivity, and cut down on the time and amount of work you have to do.
Containers allow you to shift them around to take advantage of the sun. Sun-loving plants may still be a choice if your place is heavily shaded because you can change your plant’s location. Container gardening, particularly window boxes and hanging baskets, offers several design opportunities not found in other types of planting.
- When Is the Best Time to Start a Container Garden?
- Tips When Starting Your Container Garden
- Choosing the Right Container
- Container Gardening with Vegetables
- Container Gardening with Fruits
When Is the Best Time to Start a Container Garden?
Container gardening is typically done at the same time as in-ground gardening, either after the threat of frost has passed in the spring or before the final hard frost in the fall. Because container soil heats up faster than garden soil in the spring, you may be able to plant a little early. As a result, a container garden might help you extend your growing season. If an overnight cold snap approaches in the early spring or late fall, be prepared to cover the pots or bring them indoors.
Tips When Starting Your Container Garden
Before You Go Out to Buy Plants, Make a List
One of the most excellent methods to avoid or reduce plant panic is to decide what you want and write a list before going to the nursery. This list doesn’t have to include precise plants. However, if you’re ambitious, you may go online or browse plant catalogs to determine what you want.
Make a list of the number of pots, their sizes, and where they’ll go to acquire plants that suit the pots and determine whether you need plants for sun, shade, or somewhere in between.
Don’t Overlook the Drainage
Containers might be the difference between life and death for your plants. When there isn’t a large enough hole or holes for water to drain out of your container, the soil becomes overly wet, causing the roots of your plants to rot and die.
The bad news is that many garden pots on the market lack adequate drainage. Larger holes can typically be drilled, punched, or carved to improve drainage. However, it’s sometimes easier to buy a pot with good drainage. A drainage hole must be at least 1/2 inch in diameter for small or medium-sized pots. Look for containers with a diameter of at least an inch for larger sizes.
Assess Your Light
People frequently overestimate the amount of sunlight that their containers receive. So while you may choose an excellent plant for practically any quantity of light, you must first determine how much light your container will receive.
Place your container where you want it and time how long the sun shines on it to determine how much direct light it will receive. You can also use a sun calculator to determine how much sunlight you get.
Planting Good Neighbors
Ensure that the plants you choose for your container will work well together. This means that all plants in a single container should have the same amount of light and hydration requirements.
Some plants will not grow if mixed with plants with different demands. So, if you have a plant that needs full sun, you want all of the plants you chose for that container to need full sun. On the other hand, you don’t want to place a plant that likes to dry out between waterings in a planter with plants that enjoy it wet. Here are some example of plants you can use for container gardening and their ideal companions.
Acclimatized Your Plants
Many plants dislike rapid changes, so acclimating them to changes in light, exposure to the elements, water, or temperature over time will make them happier. This is especially crucial for young plants. However, it is also necessary for most plants that have lived their whole lives in the controlled environment of a greenhouse.
You must harden off your plants if you buy seedlings in the spring or cultivate them from seed. This is a time-consuming and tiresome process, but you will significantly diminish your plants’ chances of prospering if you don’t perform it.
If you live in a colder climate and want to overwinter your plants, they’ll need some time to acclimatize to the lower light levels and drier air.
Choosing the Right Container
Garden containers come in two sizes: inches and gallons. The diameter of the pot, or the distance across the top of the container, is measured in inches. A container could range as tiny as 10 inches wide or 1 to 2 gallons to 30 inches or 30 gallons. Make sure to choose which size is appropriate for your plant.
Container heights usually are classified as “standard” or “azalea.” Azalea pots are shorter and appropriate for plants with minimal roots, such as herbs. Standard pots for growing vegetables are advised when in doubt and are widely available at garden centers.
The material that best suits your plant and the growing circumstances is the next step in selecting the proper container. Plant pots are available in a range of materials. Make your selection based on the descriptions below, and don’t forget to ensure that the pot includes drainage holes.
This is a classic favorite. Smaller sizes are less expensive, while larger and more ornate types can be costly and cumbersome to transport. It dries rapidly, making it great for indoor pots for drought-tolerant plants and Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme. Glazed terracotta takes longer to dry. When used outside, freezing temperatures can break or weaken the terracotta. In colder climates, it’s best to keep empty during the winter.
Plastics are lightweight, long-lasting, and cost-effective. Classic earthy tones or bright colors bring zing to any setting. However, direct sunlight burns black plastic in outdoor pots, injuring roots in hot areas. Therefore, alternative plastic containers, such as tubs, bins, and buckets, should also be considered. These are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
Provides a natural appearance that works well in garden settings. Wood is long-lasting and weather-resistant, but it does deteriorate over time. Half-barrel wooden containers are fairly hefty when filled with soil, so make sure they’re in place first. Wooden containers are ideal for the outdoors.
These pots are strong and long-lasting, and they come in various colors. However, they can be costly and don’t hold up well in frigid temperatures. Ideal for use indoors.
These containers are the best durability, but they come at a hefty price. Extremely cumbersome. It’s best to use it outside.
Container Gardening with Vegetables
Almost any vegetable grown in a regular home garden can also be grown in a container. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green onions, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes, and parsley are among the vegetables that thrive in containers. Pole beans and cucumbers grow nicely in this style of garden as well. However, their vining growth habit necessitates a lot more area. Here are some vegetables with their ideal container size and the number of plants you can plant.
Planning to plant herbs? Check out our article on the 7 best herbs for container gardening!
Container Gardening with Fruits
Growing your own fruit in containers is a great way to cut costs at the grocery store. Plus, there’s nothing like biting into a luscious piece of fruit straight from your garden for a fulfilling and delightful experience.
Here are five fantastic fruits to grow in containers and planting tips for them.
For more in-depth instruction on how to grow watermelons in containers, you can read our post here.
When starting your own container garden, it is important to know what plants you will be using and what will be their needs. Don’t forget to use soilless potting mix, give them plenty of sunlight and ventilation, fertilize them, and plant them with compatible companion plants if you want to. Also, keep an eye out for weeds and insects that could harm your plants.
Have you started your own container garden? How is it going?