The Q&A Archives: Marigolds In Pots Vs Planting Under Plastic

Question: I had marigolds planted in a dish garden and they did not grow real tall or full. They remained very small but did flower alot. Evidently some of the dried flowers got onto the ground under the dish garden which was set on top of pea gravel which was over plastic that surrounds my above the ground pool to keep down grass at the pool edge. Somehow these marigolds rooted through the plastic and they grew to be 6 times the size of the ones in the dish garden and the flowers were huge and awsome and quite fragrant. Why would these grow so much better in the yard soil under plastic and rock in a very poor soil (our property used to be and airport back in the 40-50's and our soil is the worst) than they would in a potting soil in a pot? I am amazed at the difference and would like to have another great show this year! Thanks! Bonnie

Answer: Plants are amazing, aren't they? When you say "dish garden" I picture a fairly small, perhaps shallow, container. This wouldn't allow much room for root development to support larger plants. Also, you didn't mention if you fertilized the dish garden. Plants will very quickly use up soil nutrients in a container, so they need to be fertilized regularly, perhaps every two weeks. The plastic, gravel, and poor soil sound very challenging too, but once they were able to get through the plastic, perhaps in a small tear or hole, their roots were free to spread and obtain nutrients. However, eventually they would use up the nutrients in a small area, so that soil would need to be replenished as well. The plastic may have helped to keep the soil moist, like a layer of mulch.

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