Secrets to Starting Your Containers
Choosing the Right Container
Like icebergs, container gardens have some pretty impressive displays above the surface. The whole display would be for naught, however, without the growing system underneath keeping it afloat. Seasoned gardeners know that the best containers start with the type of pot you use, and not all pots are created equal.
- Clay or Terracotta: These pots are highly absorbent and will suck moisture away from roots, leaving your plants parched. Avoid them unless you have a shady spot, and remember to place a glazed saucer underneath them to prevent moisture going through to the surface below.
- Plastic or Ceramic: While not absorbent, colour makes a difference in these pots. Dark colours will get very hot in the sun. Use them in the shade or, if placing them in the sun, try to stick with real heat-loving plants, like gazanias, portacula, and scaevola.
- Resin/Fiberglass: Offer durable, lightweight options for large patio planters and are budget-friendly too.
Making a Plan
You know that saying, “never go to the grocery store hungry” otherwise you end up with lots of awesome treats but nothing for dinner? Unless you’ve been designing for years, going into your container gardening activities without structure could result in frustration. Coming up with a strategy before you buy lets you plan the look you’re going for while getting the most out of your containers. Select plants you fall in love with as you shop, yes, but arrange them on your cart as you go so that you keep to your plan.
- Location: Know how much space, air flow, and sun exposure you have. This will help you select plants that are best suited to your garden’s conditions.
- Room to Grow: Before you plant, make sure your pairings will play nicely with each other now and in three months’ time too. Some plants are ‘robust growers’ that could swallow up meeker flowers.
- “Thrill, Fill, and Spill”: Choose a statement plant to be your focal point, fill around it with upright or mounding plants and add trailing plants to spill over the sides.
- Create Harmony: Use similar colours and blooms in your containers to create an aesthetic. You can also try to match them with colours in your existing beds to weave your theme throughout the garden.
- Feed Me!: Dressing your containers and baskets with slow release fertilizer, as well as feeding them regularly with liquid fertilizer, will make the difference between average planters that make it through the season, and thriving ones that own the season!
- Soil Matters: Use a good-quality, sterilized soil that will drain well and retain the right amount of moisture. Don’t pack it too firmly either. Tap the pot gently a couple of times to help it settle, but don’t force the soil down.