Designing containersDesigning containers
For many of us, putting together a selection of plants into a container for display on a porch or a deck is as impossible as sprouting wings to fly. Recently, however, Master Gardener Tammy Glover laid out very simple rules and suggestions when she taught a class on designing containers at the gardening series of classes, Gardening in the Black Hills. She shared her suggestions in simple outline form.
Reasons for gardening in containers:
Saves space, time, and water
There is a huge variety of containers
Planting in containers can extend the growing season (because the pots can be moved in and out).
Soil needs to be light and well-draining, with structure that allows room for movement of air and water.
Commercial soil can be expensive.
Commercial soil may contain fertilizers and moisture pellets that may not be correct for your choice of plants.
Home-made potting soil: many gardeners mix 1/3 well-composted garden soil, 1/3 commercial potting soil and 1/3 city yardwaste compost
Do not use just garden soil (it is too heavy and will restrict root movement)
Don't put fillers like Styrofoam, cans, rocks, etc in the bottom of the pot. They will reduce the amount of soil available for the roots and they can cause water collection rather than drainage.
Hint: Use a coffee filter to keep soil from washing from the bottom of the pot.
Hint: When planting, work with moist soil so your plants settle in happily.
Plant food is essential in container gardening, wherever it comes from.
It can be water soluble (with a high middle number as in 5-10-5 or 20-40-20)
Hint: When growing vegetables in pots, be certain to read the fertilizer label to know if the product is OK for human consumption
Water may be necessary every day.
Know your plants' water needs
Drainage is an important as water itself. Drainage is an important as the water itself.
Do fill bigger containers on a permanent site. (It is no fun to try to move a heavy, planted container),.
Do put contianter where it will drain well.
Hint: Be careful about placing a contianer next to a sunny building or wall. It may absorb more heat than the plant can stand.
Grooming keeps plants healthy as well as good looking. Deadheading keeps flowers blooming
Pruning keeps growth going in the right direction
Sanitation keeps bacteria and mold at bay.
Floral container design
Do think proportion
Do think about plant compatibility (use plants that have the same water needs)
Do think aobut grouping the pots.Vegetable containers follow the same guidleines as other contaiiners
Seeds or plants work well
Use smaller varieties of tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Good use for recycled materials (containers made from 5 gallon buckets)
Provide enough good soil (know the root size (needs) of your plants
Provide enough sun light
A few things to remember Pots must have drainage. (Drill holes if you must). Tall containers are better for many plants; roots can go deeper, be better watered, stay cooler. When plants are established in tall contianers, they will not need daily watering. Be aware of sun requirements. Geraniums won't bloom very well on a shady porch. If you mix plants, make sure they all like the same growing conditions. Be careful not to place containers too close to a building or wall that may reflect heat. Know that soil in pots will be armer than soil in the ground. There may be as much as 15 degrees difference. Some plants are OK with that; some are not. It's ok to move a pot to help it find its happier place, just like you would with a plant in the ground. Unglazecd terra cotta pots lose moisture and heat up much faster than glazed or plastic pots. Most culinary herbs - basil, oregano, thyme are OK with that, as are many other plants as they prefer less moisutew and more heat. Harden off newly planted containers to prepare them for the amount of sun and wind they will get when put into a permanent place. Sunburn and windburn can kill. Adding a layer of mulch holds moisutre in a pot. For better drainage, raise pots up on bricks or boards; also remember to empty the saucer unde a pot if it's holding moisture.
Container problemsTall, spindly plants are caused by poor light or too much nitrogen (the first number in the fertilizer as in 10-5-5). Move the container to a sunnier location or reduce feeding.Yellowing from the bottom of the plant is caused by too much wter or improper drainage; reduce water and check drain holes.Wilting plants could also be caused by poor drainage or aeration; increase the number of drainage holes. (You may have to do extreme first aid and remove the pot and soil. If the soil is saturated remove as much as you can and repot in new (moistened soil in a better draining pot.)Marginal burning of leaves come from improper or erratic watering or fertilizing. Leech the container with tap water and check drainage. Water from the bottom if possible and don't get fertilizer on the leaves.Stunted growth of plants is usually caused by low temperatures or low phosphate; move the plant to a warmer area or increase fertilizer a bit at a time.