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How to Create a Container Garden

 
 

A container garden is simply a garden that is planted into some type of container.  It sounds pretty straightforward but many gardeners have not been successful in this type of design.  Below are some easy guidelines to follow when creating a container garden.

Choosing the right container

There does exist a whole world of containers out there for gardeners to choose from but one is not limited to what they find in the garden store.  While decorative terra cotta pots are great, they can be expensive and may not create the look you want.  Old shoes, cooking pots, hats, cowboy boots and even old tires can be a container.  The key to a good container is that it fits the style of the plant material, is color compatible, has a drainage hole and is deep enough for the chosen plant material.  The motto for this step is to let your imagination run wild.

Choosing the right soil medium

Soil is so important especially when it comes to container gardens.  Plants do not have the luxury of being able to spread their roots in search of nutrients and/or water.  In doing so, starting them off in a good planting medium is one of the most important keys to a successful container garden.

While many-seasoned container garden designers swear by their own soil mix, I suggest you just buy a good quality soil.

An additional product I would suggest that you add to the planting medium is a hydrogel.  This substance will reduce the number of times you have to water by hand, will reduce the chances of you overwatering, and will save water.  There does exist several different versions of this product, just check your local nursery or horticulture supply store to see what is available locally or check out mail order sources.

Choosing the correct plant material

Container gardens, in a sense, are little, artificially created ecosystems where plant material with the same growth requirements exists.  This means that shade loving plants grow together, sun-loving plants grow together, and those who like “wet feet” are grouped together.

Container gardens are arranged much like a floral arrangement.  While a container filled with pansies looks beautiful, variety does add a spark of interest to the container.  A saying that is spoke often in floral design business describes the best approach to follow and that is to provide thrillers, fillers and spikes.

Thrillers can be color or texture.  To get the biggest bang for your buck, plan the arrangement so that you have flowers that bloom at different times.  Fillers, on the other hand, are plants that are used to fill in those empty spaces.  Many times they provide that “green” background that allows more showy plants to stand out.  The last element is spikes.  These plants are the ones that add height to the arrangement.

Also, to help all the plant material work together, consider using a color wheel for proper color harmony.

Creating your container garden

To begin the process, clean the container and place drainage material in the bottom.  Fill with your choice of planting medium.  Once that is complete, you will need to decide how you plan for the arrangement to be viewed.  Most container gardens are designed so that they can be seen from all sides.

Once this is done, begin planting from the center out.  This typically means you plant your spikes first, then your thrills, and lastly your fillers.  After the container has been filled, gently tap it on a hard surface.  This will help settle the soil and remove some of the air bubbles.  Once the container has been watered, the remaining air bubbles will be removed.

The next step is to feed your plants.  While you can put them on a feeding schedule with a water-soluble fertilizer why not make your life easy and go ahead and apply a slow-release fertilizer.  Many different types exist but one form I would recommend is the “spike.”  This simple invention is a spike or a tablet that is pushed into the soil where the roots are located.  Since the fertilizer is in the root zone, it is easier for the plant to get the nutrition.  Also, these spikes or tablets only have to be applied once a season so they are very convenient for those who forget to feed their plants.

If you are looking for a great organic source for plant spikes, explore Winchester Gardens.  They have a wide selection of products that will make feeding your container garden a breeze.

The last thing you will need to do before you water in your design is to place a nice layer of organic mulch on top of the soil.  This will not only help conserve soil moisture but will also add that finishing touch.

Container gardens are easy to design and can add a splash of color anywhere.  They can hold flowers, vegetables and a combination of both.  The only limit to the design is your own imagination.


 

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Gardening-tip:

Growing Caladium

Caladiums grow from tubers sold in the spring.

You can buy the tubers and plant your own, but buying a full-grown plant is the easiest way to know what color the leaves will be.

Give your Caladiums high humidity or the leaf margins may turn brown.


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