Most people think that container gardening is a lot easier than in-ground gardening. Sure enough, you won’t be tending hectares of land, and you won’t be watering multiple gardening beds, but container gardening can be challenging, too.
For starters, most container gardening is done as a part of urban gardening. This means that the environment and surroundings aren’t that ideal for growing plants.
Aside from this, since you’re tending a small pot or grow bag, one mistake can ruin your entire plant. Once you make a wrong move, you have to say goodbye to your possibly ONLY plant!
This is why it’s also important to know the proper ways on how to do container gardening. And this is what we’ll try to share with you in this blog. Whether you’re planning to do vegetable container gardening or flower gardening on your balcony, then this one is for you!
What is Container Gardening?
Container gardening uses enclosed and portable stuff such as pots, fabric grow bags, and plastic bags to grow plants in place of a complete garden. It ranges from growing vegetables, flowers, succulents, perennials, and others.
How important is Container Gardening?
Contrary to what people believe, container gardening is really important. Sure enough, it doesn’t yield that much harvest compared to a full-size garden. It’s also mainly used for decorative purposes.
However, we should remember that container gardening is the key to urban gardening. It places plants where they are needed the most- the city.
Just imagine how helpful it is for reducing pollution when everyone in the city does container gardening! Balcony gardening or rooftop gardening, every container of plants is a big help!
Aside from this, container gardening helps you expand your gardening place. Whether you’re in the city or not. It will also help you save few bucks, especially if you grow your herbs and vegetables. You don’t have to drop by the grocery store every time you want to make a salad.
Lastly, it’s an excellent way to introduce gardening to your kids. Instead of giving them a pet to take care of, why not give them a plant to grow? You’ll be surprised by how good kids can be when it comes to gardening!
Ultimate Guide to Starting Container Gardening
Now that you all know what container gardening is and how important it is let’s now jump to our container gardening ideas!
Kinds of containers
There are five containers for container gardening: clay pots, concrete pots, fiberglass, fabric grow bags, and wooden plant beds.
- Clay pots
The most popular in the bunch is clay pots. Most people use clay pots as it combines the sturdiness of a concrete pot yet its material is porous. This means that clay pots absorb water and allows minimal air to go through.
However, as we all know, clay pots are fragile. This means that a single hit a hard concrete ground, and it can easily break. Aside from this, there is a kind that is more breathable and more porous than clay pots in terms of porosity. (Check out the entire list to know!)
Clay pots produce dry soil. This is why they are perfect for succulents and flowers like Smoke Bush, Madagascar Periwinkle, Rosemary, and English Lavender.
- Concrete pots
Concrete pots are popular in urban gardening as they give a more industrial and modern aesthetic compared to clay pots. They can also be molded into different shapes and sizes compared to other plant containers.
However, concrete pots are 4x heavier than regular clay pots. This is why you should only be using concrete pots on top of concrete solid ground. If you have a wooden balcony or patio, you might want to skip on this one!
Concrete pots increase the alkaline level of the soil. This is why you should look for plants that will thrive with high alkaline concentrations. Some of these plants are succulents, Begonias, Easter Lilies, Orchids, and even herbs like Arugula and Oregano!
- Fabric grow bags
Among all the gardening containers we have on our list, fabric grows bags can be considered the most convenient and functional since you can grow vegetables in them!
Compared to clay pots, vegetable grow bags are a lot more porous simply because they’re made of breathable fabric. This minimizes the risk of over-watering.
It also allows the vegetables and other kinds of plants to undergo air pruning in which old roots automatically prune themselves to give enough space for newer roots. Thus, a healthier root system!
Aside from this, fabric grow bags are the lightest and most portable ones on the list. You can simply wash them like a standard fabric, fold them, and keep them in your closet! They’re also 100% reusable as they won’t break or tarnish compared to others.
The only thing that vegetable grow bags sacrificed for all these functionalities is aesthetics. Clay and concrete pots are more visually appealing. But then again, your beautiful flowers and vegetables can compensate for that view!
You can grow pretty much all kinds of vegetables in your fabric grow bag. But growing beets and potatoes will be suitable for beginners!
Fiberglass pots are the cheapest and most flexible in terms of design. They are mostly used for indoor tabletop plants, but they can also be used for outdoor urban gardening.
The best thing about fiberglass pots is that they are excellent insulators of heat. So if you live in a city where it can be too hot for plants, you can opt for fiberglass pots. Their colors and finish also last longer than other containers, and most of them are also shockproof.
You can grow almost all kinds of outdoor decorative plants in fiberglass pots, such as succulents, croton, lantana, and caladium.
- Wooden plant beds
Who said you couldn’t bring your raised garden beds in the city? Surely you can!
Wooden plant beds are just like raised garden beds, only that they’re made more decorative to fit urban gardening. They are also good for planting vegetables since they can provide good water drainage and air circulation.
However, in using wooden plant beds, you should make sure that you will use those that won’t rot when exposed to water (of course, you have to water your plants). Some of the best woods for gardening are cedar, locust, and pine.
Preparation for container gardening
In preparing your containers or pots, the first thing you have to take note of is the drainage.
You have to make sure that your place is “water ready. You have to plan where the drained water will flow for those who will grow vegetables through fabric grow bags and wooden garden beds, especially if you’re doing it on the balcony or the rooftop.
On the other hand, for those who will be growing flowers and other plants through pots, you have to make sure that there are enough drainage holes in your plants. Without them, your seeds won’t germinate, and your plants will never grow.
Soil preparation is also different in container gardening. This is because you have to consider its enclosed space compared to in-ground gardening.
Skip on using pure compost mix. These kinds of soil are too dense for container gardening. Together with the enclosed space of a pot, its density will not allow the roots to grow properly.
For containers that are less than 1 gallon, you should use a houseplant soil mixture. You have to use a soilless mix made of pear moss, pine, vermiculite, and sand for the larger ones.
Contrary to popular belief, you can also mix and match in container gardening. You can combine different kinds of plants in one container. It is highly advised since it can improve the condition of the soil and repel pests.
However, you should make sure that more than the looks, you should consider the growth of the plants when combining them in one container. The general rule is to have one tall plant and a filler.
Examples of tall plants are hibiscus, bougainvillea, elephant ears, and cypress. You can combine them with fillers such as plumes, fuchsia, swiss chard, and cineraria.
Just make sure that you have enough room for them in your container.
Location for container gardening
You should keep in mind that all containers will be 3x heavier when there’s already soil inside them. This is why you plan out its location first before placing them on it.
You could consider your design when placing your containers. However, you should prioritize these two factors: sun and wind.
In deciding the location, it’s best that your flowers can get 4-6 hours of sunlight. This is especially important in growing flowers.
Still, on container gardening flowers, make sure that you will not constantly expose fragrant flowers to breezes and winds. This is because these breezes will disperse the smell always which may be distracting to your neighbors. Aside from this, fragrant flowers are generally thin, so strong winds may destroy them.
Container gardening isn’t that hard. Yet, it’s also not that easy. Learning the basic information about it is still essential in growing healthy and happy plants!