Container gardening is a popular choice for apartment dwellers with limited space to plant. Whether on a balcony, patio, or even doorstep, here are tips to get your spring container garden started, no matter how little your landscape.
Evaluate Your Space
Think about how a container garden might fit into the space you have. A cluster of pots can host a variety of plants and beautify a patio. Flower boxes can be attached to railings and hanging baskets can be suspended from the roof.
A popular way to grow a large number of plants in a very small space is to build a vertical garden. DIY versions can be made of some unexpected materials, such as wood pallets or shoe organizers. For a refined look, purchase vertical gardening structures with multiple pockets of soil to hold the plants. Some models even include a water feature!
Select Your Containers
Containers should be beautiful and functional. Start by choosing the largest pots that you can fit into the space. The more soil they contain, the more plant options you will have. Next, look for features that help to hold in moisture, like self-watering compartments. Finally, choose containers that will stand up to the weather conditions in your area. If you plan to leave the pots outside when temperatures dip down to freezing, purchase containers that are glazed ceramic or weather-proof plastic.
Choose Your Plants
Now is the time to dream about what you would like to grow. An herb garden just outside of the kitchen? Stunning flowers to brighten up the entertaining area? An edible garden to feed your family? All of these are possible in container gardens, as long as you seek out the right plants.
Read plant labels and seed packets to determine if a plant will be successful in a container; many will even be labeled as container plants. Other terms to look for are, “dwarf,” “miniature” and “patio” in the plant names.
Ensure you are choosing plants that will thrive in your small space’s unique micro-climate. If the hot sun is unrelenting all day long, choose vegetables or drought-tolerant plants. If the sun is obstructed for most of the day, pick large-leaf, shade-loving plants.
If you’re an amature and want to try your thumb before you commit to a whole outdoor patio full of plants, check out the Click & Grow product line.
Pick The Right Soil
Garden soil is generally too heavy for containers. Many garden centers sell bags of soil specially formulated for container plants. This is often a good quality compost with added peat moss and perlite for aeration and water-retention properties. Look for container soil that is light and fluffy.
Maintaining Beautiful Containers
Water the container plants regularly but be sure that they are not left with standing water that can rot the roots. Proper drainage is essential to the plants’ success.
Containers offer a much smaller volume of soil and nutrients than a garden bed does, so fertilizer will be needed a few times each season. Choose an organic fertilizer made for the types of plants you are growing.
One final thought on building the perfect container garden: use more than one plant per container and add artistic elements to the design. This will create a personalized touch and create the most aesthetically pleasing display.