Container gardens consist of a variety of containers filled with soil and planted with seeds or transplants (baby plants). Growing gardens in containers saves time and yard space. It's also a way to get kids interested in gardening and to beautify your indoor or outdoor living spaces. Finally, container gardens benefit those not able to spend hours in the garden due to busy schedules or disabilities.
Types of container gardens include herb, flower and vegetable gardens. Herbs such as basil (Ocimum basilicum) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) thrive in containers. Impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) and petunias (Petunia hybrida) also grow well in containers, and tomatoes and squash do as well.
Buckets, wooden boxes or traditional flower containers are ideal for gardening containers.
The size of the container depends on what you'll be planting. For example, herbs grow well in small to medium size pots. However, geraniums and impatiens grow rapidly and spread, so a larger container is a better fit.
Plants may be started in a smaller pot, then transplanted to a larger pot as they mature. This method does increase the chance for transplant shock--shock that a plant absorbs when moved from its original state.
When visiting a garden center, look for a garden soil designed specifically for flowers and plants grown in a container; most bags of soil will indicate this on the front of the bag.
Proper drainage is essential when planting a container garden. Confirm that there is a drainage hole in the bottom of the container. Add a layer of plastic to seal any cracks or holes in the container if needed. Pebbles placed at the bottom of the container help keep the soil in the container while the water drains out.
One major difference in planting flowers and plants in the ground verses containers is water. Container gardening requires more water, as the soil dries out faster. Containers should be watered at least twice a week, and more often during dry weather.
Sunlight is a crucial component of container gardening. The proper amount of sunlight can be the difference between your container garden thriving or dying.
Look for the recommended sunlight guidelines on the plant identification marker that comes with your plants or seed packet. If needed, visit the USDA plant database website for specific sunlight guidelines. The guidelines also indicate which plants and flowers thrive in shady environments.
Slow-release fertilizers are ideal for container gardens. Fertilize container gardens weekly, as plants and flowers may lack nutrients that they would normally get when planted in the ground.