Readers' Best Container Gardening Tips

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By William Moss

These tips will help keep your container plants in the pink.

Finding Room to Grow

Easy-care plants:

I am replacing patio plants with succulents and cacti. I move them into my sunroom in the winter. They have such interesting shapes. L.H., Yuma, CO

Great advice for urbanites:

Vertical is the way to go. Grow UP wherever you can. K.R., Dallas, OR

Inexpensive, if not decorative, hanging tomato garden:

Enjoy tomatoes even if you have no room for a garden. Cut a drainage hole in the bottom of a 3-gallon bucket that has a handle, fill it partway with soil, and plant your tomato plant. C.S., Halls, TN

Fragrance factor:

I place fragrant potted plants on stairs leading to my back entrance. This summer I used rose-scented geraniums for a "scentual" experience as I brush by. I propagate cuttings near the end of the growing season and bring the smaller plants inside. My sunny, south-facing kitchen window is a miniature fragrant paradise.T.M., Columbus, OH

Window box supports:

Window box container gardening, which is perfect for small spaces, has the advantage of portability when I use strong bicycle hooks to support the boxes. P.S., Weeki Wachee, FL


Watering schedule:

Post your watering schedule rather than trying to commit it to memory. M.G., Lafayette, LA

Plastic bottle reservoirs:

I grow tomatoes in containers. Before planting, I punch holes in the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle, and then when I plant the container I bury the soda bottle up to the neck next to the plant. I keep the bottle filled with water and it seeps out to the roots of the plant. S.S., Marion, IN

A cool drink for hanging baskets:

I place several ice cubes on top of the soil of my hanging baskets for a slow drip system. V.C., Manahawkin, NJ

Winter Protection

Avoiding exposure:

Group plants together and cover well with burlap. Locate them away from prevailing winds. P.F., Las Vegas, NV

Covering containers:

I've discovered I can keep plants outdoors without worrying about freezing temperatures. I gather up all pots and move them close together with a sprinkler head somewhere near the center of all the pots (using a drip system also works). I invert a tomato cage over each one (turning down the pointed tips), and then wrap each cage with a white, gauze-like garden fabric called Reemay. I then use more Reemay to wrap around the entire grouping. I've been doing this for about six years and haven't lost a single pot of plants. I also use the same fabric at the first frost to cover plants and then remove the Reemay the following day. This allows me to enjoy the pots just a little longer before the hard winter sets in. T.H., Rockwall, TX

Heavy-duty container insulation:

After grooming the plant for winter hibernation, place entire potted plant inside a larger wooden tub that is filled with dry leaves. Bury the plant deep within. Set the tub on the south side against a building. J.W., Eugene, OR

Even more heavy-duty container insulation:

I've had great luck protecting potted perennials by cutting a piece of Styrofoam to fit the bottom of the pot and then placing the pot in a Christmas tree bag. Fill the bag with enough small Styrofoam packing pellets to fill in around the branches and the pot. For additional protection, wrap the whole bag with a hot water heater insulation kit. C.H., Green Bay, WI

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