As we approach the gardening season, we often have customers that lament not having the space for an in-ground garden or the time or physical ability to make one. However, gardening is certainly possible in containers that can be placed on the ground or on patios, decks, or balconies. There are even raised containers that can promote gardening from a standing position. The options for useable containers are endless. The most important requirements are drainage holes and appropriate depth for the roots of the plants in it. You can use containers for hanging baskets, combination planters, herb gardens, and even vegetables such as tomatoes. Keep in mind that plants with restricted root space will be smaller and possibly less productive. A container with at least 12” of root space would be recommended for most types of plants. Also, talk to your local garden centers about plants that are specifically recommended for container growing. Many plant breeders have developed some great vegetable and fruit plants that are specifically designed for this to be more compact.
Containers are more exposed to wind and sun and thus can dry out quicker. Frequent checking will be necessary to maintain appropriate water supplies. In general, let the top inch feel dry before watering, then water thoroughly until water is coming out the holes in the bottom. Don’t let containers sit in drained water. We often hear frustration from customers that have the decorative hanging baskets. Keep in mind there is a very large amount of plant material that can only draw water from a small container. Daily checking will be necessary and in high temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s it could be possible they will need to be checked twice daily.
Equally important is a high quality potting soil that is lightweight and soilless to promote good drainage and space for oxygen for the roots. A little extra expense for this is well worth it in the results. You can also make your own soilless mixes and the Purdue extension materials give some excellent recipes for these.
Whether you choose a combination planter that is already made, have one made for your custom needs, or make your own is strictly up to you. It is very important to know what your light needs are for the area they go in and to work with your local garden centers to choose plants that will work best for your needs. Containers have increasingly become a focal point for gardening. Enjoy!!
This article is sponsored by McNamara at Sand Point, which has 2 acres of production greenhouses, retail florist and gift shop, as well as retail garden center and wholesale plant business. Contact McNamara by calling 260-747-4131 or visit 4322 DeForest Ave, Ft. Wayne, IN 46809.