Benefits of ContainerGardening Adds lots of impact in a small space Is easy to maintain for a variety of lifestyles, less work than a large garden, can choose your own size Outlet for creativity Instant, portable landscape Available to anyone with a window, balcony, deck, doorstep or yard.
Benefits of ContainerGardening Is an option for the disabled, elderly or homeowner/apartment dweller with little or no land Is a way to have fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs at anytime Creates a new environment with less effort and problems Gardener controls all variables; plants, water, sunlight, fertilizer
Select your area Find a spot Analyze the sunlight area receives throughout day. Take advantage of aluminum foil, white painted surfaces, marble chips to increase available light Herbs/vegys require 6+ hours, even in Houston Container angle and perspective
Select a Container Avoid containers with small diameter openings Adequate drainage, if none improvise including bricks, feet Avoid containers with toxic chemicals Remember larger containers weight more, consider dollies with wheels Self-watering containers Light-colored containers
Typical ContainerMaterials Wood is susceptible to rot – consider plastic liner Terracotta dries quick, good drainage with air movement in root zone Fiberglass is expensive but lasts, lightweight, attractive. Others?
Typical Containers more Plastic containers breakdown over time Metal –galvanized tubs – great if not moving, make bold statement Self-watering conversion kit inserts (see gardener’s supply)
Color Principles Use more than one color to give a container or planting more dimension and make the planting more interesting Color is not only the flowers but also foliage.
Cool Colors Blue and violet hues Area will seem to recede when colors used Very subdued, tranquil look
Warm Colors Red, yellow and orange hues Area will seem to stand out when warm colors are used Fun, vibrant look
Types of Plants Select plants with similar needs: water, light, nutrients Succulents same low water, bright light Plant container plants at the same time as if planting in beds Over-planting is recommended for effect Consider year-round interest with ornamental grasses, evergreen and deciduous dwarf trees/shrubs
Select plants according togrowth habits and foliage Select for growth habits/form (upright, weeping, tufted, branching, climbing, prostrate, dense or airy) Mix three types of growth habits in pot Provide vertical interest in center or back Filler plant at base of tall adds interest and foliar interest Trailer droops over edge of a pot and breaks harsh lines of pot edge
Theme Color examples, pink and white full sun (pink flowering begonia vinca, rose pink geranium, white petunia, white snapdragon, white nicotiana) Butterfly attracting (buddleia, bee balm, salvia, coreopsis, echinacea, liatris) Scented plants (geraniums, herbs) Multi-season interest (evergreen with spring bulbs, hostas, ferns) and impatiens
Problem areas Make sure plants can be maintained at the preferred height, typically no more than 2X the container height Make sure foliage is not too similar, avoid a mass of boring solid colored foliage Consider under-planting bulbs beneath herbaceous plants
Soil Mixes If you provide a good environment for the roots, the top will take care of itself. When plants, leave a gap at container edge for water and mulch (1-2”) Do not use soil from yard Select soil mix based on plant needs Succulents sedums and cacti prefer a less nutrient-rich mix that does not retain water.
Selecting soil mixes Annuals, perennials, vegetables need a mix that retains water with higher nutrient content. Slow release fertilizers are good additions to mixes. Plants benefit from water-holding crystals incorporated into soil at time of planting
Selecting soil mixes Water during the summer one or two times a day. Create mix: equal parts peat moss, garden loam, sand/perlite, and slow release fertilizer. If container is large, fill base with styrofoam, place plastic tray with drain holes on top of styrfoam and cover with soil mix
Maintaining YourContainer Garden Provide more/new soil each year for perennials, trees, shrubs. In Houston, top dress multiple times/year Water in mornings to decrease risk of disease and virus, and in early evening if necessary (avoid wetting leaves) Prune and deadhead religiously
Feed Me Perennials, fast growing, High N in spring for growth, K rich for flowers, 14-21 days Annuals and bedding plants, high performance and hungry! Generous feed at planting; liquid feed weekly Vegetables and fruits also greedy!! N to start growth, K for fruiting
N–K–P N for greeN - Nitrogen rich for leaf growth K for potassium – flower and fruit growth/development P for phosphorous – for root development.
Protection Monitor for pests daily—small size makes it easy to stay on top of pests Rubber snakes Netting Foil Pinwheels
Herbs Grows well in full to partial sun (6 hours or more) but in Houston, avoid direct afternoon sun. In hot climates, these might still need watering twice a day even though most herbs are drought tolerant. They’re tougher to grow in Houston’s summer heat
Herbs Typically do well in strawberry jars. Plant with lots of variety. Strawberry jars offer trailing plants room Water bottle/pvc trick Know the growth patterns of plants (mint, fennel, dill, thyme Plant tallest herbs at top of jar Plant bottom up
Annuals Have a long bloom time. May need to replant annuals for hot and cold seasons Require deadheading for appearance and to prevent seed development Need lots of water and fertilizer to continue blooms and displays Lots of variety in size, shape, texture; sun and water requirements.
Perennials Typically incorporated into pots with other plants due to limited bloom time Do not need to be replanted every year like annuals and most vegetables Like annuals, perennials have a wide variety of sun and water requirements. Perennials will require winter protection during cold spells
Vegetables/Fruits Need at least 6 hours sunlight and high water/nutrient requirements May need to be staked to support fruit Can be planted with companion plants (tomatoes/marigolds) Hanging pots with vegetables surrounded on ground by sunflowers and sweet peas.
Possibilities Tomatoes, peppers, Banana, blueberries, eggplant, green blackberries, onions, beans, strawberries, citrus, lettuce, squash, peaches, apples, radishes, pole beans pomegranate and cucumbers (dwarf), lime, orange dwarf fruit trees
Succulents and Cacti Drought tolerant Minimal nutrients Winter hardy in our zone, with some protection for most severe weather Needs drainage Great for bird feeders and shallow fountains and other dishes
Shrubs and Trees Can be under-planted to provide year round color and living mulch Shrubs: Bay, boxwood, holly, acuba, azalea, camellia, quince, pyrancantha, eucalyptus, rhododendron, juniper, butterfly bush, Japanese plum yew Tree: Japanese maple, redbud, crepe myrtle, fruit trees
Grow Bags Garden anywhere Polypropylene bags designed to hold water and soil, allows air movement Herbs, potatoes, strawberry, peppers, tomatoes, salads,
Recommended reading Succulent Container Gardens by Debra Lee Baldwin Container Gardener’s Bible by Joanna K. Harrison and Miranda Smith New Low Maintenance Garden by Valerie Easton Contained Garden, The by Kenneth A. Becket, David Carr, and David Stevens Crops in Pots by Bob Purnell Container Gardening (magazine)