The Q&A Archives: Plant containers

Question: How do I start a plant container?

Answer: Even the smallest patio or porch can boast a garden of flowers in containers. Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are just some of the containers that can be used. Consider the following when choosing your containers. Use containers between 15 and 120 quarts capacity. Small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly. The size and number of plants to be grown will determine the size of the container used. Make sure your pot has adequate drainage. In hot climates use light-colored containers to lessen heat absorption and discourage uneven root growth. Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.

If you choose clay pots, remember that clay is porous and water is lost from the sides of the container. Plants in clay pots should be monitored closely for loss of moisture.

Make sure your planting medium drains rapidly but retains enough moisture to keep the roots evenly moist. Purchase a good quality potting mixture or make your own from equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil, and peat moss.

When you add your soil to your container, leave a 2 inch space between the top of the soil and the top of the container.

Since potting mixes drain water rapidly, fertilizer will be washed out of the container as you water. Lighter mixes will require more frequent fertilizing than heavier mixes. It's a good idea to use a dilute liquid fertilizer with every other watering. Liquid fish emulsion or liquid seaweed are great plant boosters, but remember that you need to provide your plants with a variety of nutrients. Check the labels on the products in you garden center to be sure that they contain a complete, balanced solution that includes trace elements.

In an exposed location, container plants loose moisture quickly. Some plants will need to be watered daily, especially during hot, dry weather.

What to Grow? Annuals suitable for containers include:

Alyssum, Begonia, Browallia, Coleus, Geraniums, Impatiens, Lantana, Lobelia,
Marigolds, Periwinkle, Nasturtiums, Pansies, Petunias, Salvia, Snapdragons,
Thunbergia and Zinnias. Some like sunny spots and others prefer shade so be sure to read the plant labels and place them in the sun exposure they prefer.

Enjoy your container garden!

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