Murdoch's Guide to Container Planting
A container garden is a great way to grow vegetables and flowers in small places or anywhere you want to add a little personal flair to an outdoor space. Following these basic steps will help you get incredible results!
1. Pick the Location
You can start a container garden just about anywhere a selected spot has enough sunshine, water, and protection from pets and wildlife. Observe the chosen site to see how long it stays in the sun. Remember, shade-loving plants can handle the morning sun, but they will burn if they are exposed to the hot afternoon sun. Sun plants, of course, will need plenty of sunshine.
2. Choose your Plants
You can select all vegetables or flowers, or both. They can even be combined to create an ornamental vegetable container. It’s your choice! Try to pick vegetables you like to eat and your favorite annual and perennial flowers. Certain plants can thrive in containers and others do not fare as well. A little research can help you decide.
3. Select the Perfect Container
The sky’s the limit when considering container options. Wash tubs, watering cans, plastic pots, hanging baskets, terra cotta pots, they all can work. The container will need to be large enough to accommodate your plants. The seed packets or labels will let you know the height and width of the plants at maturity. The container also needs to have adequate drainage through the bottom. Drill or poke holes as needed to provide the drainage to keep plant roots healthy.
Soil is the most important foundation to ensure healthy plants. Pick a quality soil for your plants by reviewing the ingredients, not the title. Consider using soils that contain live microbes and quality soil amendments. If unsure of what these include, ask a Murdoch’s plant professional.
Regular and thorough watering is important, but don’t overdo it. Too much watering can cause root rot, which can kill the plant. A moisture meter is a great way to control watering. Technique is also important. Avoid spraying the leaves. Water the soil near the roots, where water is absorbed. The easiest and most efficient way to water is with a hose and watering wand.
Plants need food, too! Many soils contain fertilizer but not enough food to maximize the plant's potential. In fact, many soil fertilizers die after a couple of waterings. Consider using a slow-release fertilizer after planting to ensure that plants get fed a small amount at each watering. Using a liquid fertilizer will also maximize the plant's performance. Be careful not to overfeed the plants as this can burn them. If this happens, feed them with clear water for several days, following it up with continued feeding.
7. Care for your Garden
A successful container garden requires care beyond soil, fertilizer, and water. Pull any sprouting weeds, watch for insects, and remove dead blossoms. Cutting off the blossoms is called deadheading, which will produce more blooms to replace the dead flower. The easiest way to deadhead is to use a pruner to remove the entire stem that connects the flower to the main stem.
8. Ask Questions
Be sure to ask any questions that might arise with your container plants. There are many diseases and bugs that can also affect your plant's health. A Murdoch’s plant professional is more than happy to help determine the problem or find a solution for you. Happy planting!