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Container and Patio Gardening By Lori BowlingBoyd County Extension Agent for Horticulture
Outline• Why container gardening• Containers, types and requirements• Potting media• Plant selection for containers• Examples
Why container gardening?• Traditional gardening space is limited or unavailable• Time for gardening is limited• Mobility is limited – raised beds and containers, examples of accessible gardening• Desire to be creative
Why container gardening?• Garden site is unsuitable for growing the plants you want: – Drainage – Soil conditions – Shade/sun concerns• Desire for fresh produce
Why container gardening?• Functional reasons: – As highlights in the landscape – To soften walls and hard scapes – To define space/rooms (walls, ceilings, framing) – To limit access and provide security
Container gardening concerns• Maintenance requirement – Watering, two-fold concern – Fertilizing – Grooming• Decisions regarding containers, growing media, plants and placement will help reduce these concerns
Containers - types• Can plant in almost any container• Plastics and fiberglass – most popular, weight, durable, variety• Clay/ceramics – traditional, porous, heavy• Wood – popular, redwood and cedar best• Metal – durable, character, limited availability, weight
Containers – requirements• How big? – Size of space – Size of plants – Balance between container and plants
Containers - requirements• Drainage – Each container must have at least one drainage hole – Elevate container slightly to ensure proper drainage – A few pebbles and charcoal in the bottom of a pot does not ameliorate poor drainage, drill a hole!
Containers - requirements• Temperature concerns – Avoid use of black and dark colored containers in sunny locations, root damage may occur with high soil temperatures – Protect root zone from cold temperatures of winter, most plant roots are less hardy compared to above ground portion
Potting media• Requirements: – Must wet easily – Must resist compaction – Must hold water without water-logging – Must retain some nutrients• These are met by having proper structure
Potting media• Structure of soil describes the aggregation of soil particles resulting in pore space• Good structure comes from blending ingredients – Organic components: peat, bark, composted material – Drainage provided by sand or perlite – Water and nutrients held by vermiculite, calcined clay, peat, hydrogels
Potting media vs. soil• If soil is used exclusively as a container medium it will compact: pore space, aeration, and drainage will deteriorate.• Soil can be used as an amendment in soilless potting mixes. A little soil will enhance water and nutrient holding capacity and improve anchorage of plants.
Potting media – long term use• Structure of potting media tends to break down over time• Soil borne diseases tend to build up over time• Best to replace potting medium each growing season• Perennials growing in containers must be repotted periodically, replace media
Plant selection• Plants must be compatible, complementary: – Sun vs. shade – Moisture needs – Foliage textures and colors – Flower colors, bloom period
Vegetables• Popular and practical• Extend the season with cool season crops• Use containers as a form of crop rotation to lessen pest pressure
Annuals• Perhaps the most suitable plants for containers• Consider needs for maintenance, water requirements, grooming, bloom period
Perennials and trees• More difficult, require a strategy for over- wintering• Must divide or repot occasionally to maintain or control vigor