Container gardening opens up planting possibilities for those who live in townhouses with limited yard space or who have just a balcony or patio to call their own. Experimenting with different plants in pots is fun and doesn't leave a gap in the landscape if they don't work out. Gardening in containers isn't more difficult than gardening in a yard but there some challenges.
Does the Container Need Drainage Holes?
Absolutely. Plants will drown if their roots are constantly in water. If the container doesn't have holes, drill some. Or use a container that does have drainage inside one that doesn't. If that's the case put a few rocks in the bottom of the first container so the second doesn't sit flush on the bottom.
How Big Does the Container Need to Be?
That depends on what you plant. Most annuals and vegetables require at least a 12-inch depth. Roses and perennials need at least 18 inches but do better with 24 inches. Trees require 24 inches or more. Larger containers retain moisture longer than smaller ones. That's important because you won't have to water a big pot as much.
Can I Use Dirt from the Garden in the Container?
It's possible but not a good idea. Dirt compacts easily which makes it more difficult for roots to get through. When it dries it pulls away from the sides of the container so water just rushes through the container. Garden dirt also contains diseases and fungus. Use packaged potting soil for containers. Potting soil is reusable but add slow release fertilizer when potting up new plants.
Should I Fertilize Containers More Often?
Since containers dry out faster than the ground, it's necessary to water more often. The extra watering flushes out plant food. Don't use more fertilize. Use water soluble plant food at half strength once a week.
Is There Anything That Can't Be Used as a Plant Container?
Yes. If the container originally held material that is toxic to plants it shouldn't be used as a container. Metals get hot from the sun and transfer the heat to the soil in them. Plants don't like their roots hot. Don't use dark colored containers like black, dark green, red or blue for the same reason unless those containers are placed in the shade.
How Should I Move a Plant-Filled Container?
Very carefully. The soil, plant, container and water are heavier than you might think. Plant the container where it will be located. Plant stands sometimes have wheels on them to make moving containers easier. When placing containers on a balcony or deck be aware of any weight constraints.