Tips on Container Gardens

Container gardens are suitable for patios and porches, making them a favorite for apartments and urban homes that have limited outdoor space. Container gardens aren't limited to apartments and city homes, however, and they aren't limited to flowers or vines, either. Grow cacti, succulents, herbs, vegetables and even fruit trees in your containers.

Container Size

Large containers make a big impact. They also provide more room for root development. For plants such as herbs and vegetables, select planters with at least 12 inches of depth. Cacti and succulents are shallow-rooted plants and require less water, so plant these in planters with less depth, but with wide diameters. The roots spread outward rather than downward. For flowers with shrub-like growth or vegetables, select deep containers with broad diameters. For annuals that don't require deep rooting systems, smaller containers work well, as the plant devotes more energy to blooms than to root development.

Planting Medium

Use a soil-less mix for your potting soil. Garden soil or soil from your landscape is likely to be too heavy for a container plant. The water will drain too slowly and your plants' roots will suffocate from the weight of the soil. Use a mix that contains perlite, vermiculite and peat moss or sorghum moss. Fertilize the soil with a slow-release fertilizer to allow the plant to take only what it needs when it needs it. This prevents root burn.

Watering

Watering a container differs from watering your lawn or soil garden because the water is confined to the container and drains only from the drainage hole. Different plants take up water at different rates. Check each container daily to ensure the soil is not soggy or dry. The soil should be slightly moist. If you decide to put several different plants in one container, make sure they have similar watering requirements. Check for water needs by thrusting your finger into the soil about 2 inches deep. If you feel dry soil, water the plant.

Harvest and Deadhead

If you're growing herbs, take cuttings frequently to encourage new growth. For vegetables, harvest just as you would in a ground garden. Cut flowers when they bloom and use them in your home. If you prefer to leave them in the container garden, cut off any blooms once they fade, a process called "deadheading." This will encourage more blooms on the plant.

Keywords: container gardening, tips container plants, flowers in containers

About this Author

Shelly McRae resides in Phoenix, Ariz. Having earned her associate's degree from Glendale Community College with a major in graphic design and technical writing, she turned to online writing. Her credits include articles for 123Life.com, eHow.com and several non-commercial sites. Her work background also includes experience in the home improvement industry and hydroponic gardening.