Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
April, 2005
Regional Report

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You can grow almost anything in containers.

Pots of Gold

Everyone's time is valuable, and gardening should not waste it. Depending on how you like to spend your precious time, container gardening may be your cup of tea.

Why pots? If you'd rather plant than dig, if you like to water plants every day or so in the summer as part of your morning ritual, if you like to grow plants that are a little wimpy for our region's tough conditions, consider containers. Perhaps, like many gardeners, you like accents in the garden but aren't into popular yard art. Colorful, decorative containers can provide those accents for you.

Set it Up
A great advantage of growing plants in pots is that you can put them wherever you want in the garden. A trio of cobalt blue pots filled with hibiscus and bacopa can sit on the steps up to your porch, one above the other in close rank. The porch or deck rail can hold half pots of any favorite vine or tiny pots of cacti and succulents. If the shade is deep and tree roots are close to the surface, grow caladiums and impatiens in pots. Or use staging, such as concrete blocks and boards, to put a ring of ferns in big pots behind cast iron plants ringing an oak. Sunny decks are the perfect place for wooden planter boxes full of tomatoes, herbs, and vegetables.

Bare Necessities
Plants growing in pots are, by nature, restricted in the amount of roots they can grow. For some plants, like bougainvillea, this coincides with their preference for crowded root zones. Spider plants (a.k.a. airplane plants) and piggyback plants respond to crowding by sending out more and more runners with babies attached.

Most plants, though, slowly decline when their roots have overfilled their space. Water often pours right through crowded roots and rushes out the bottom of the pot without being absorbed. Many need to be repotted after a season or two, but not necessarily into larger pots. If you don't want a mature plant to get any larger, simply turn the rootball out of the pot, prune some roots, and refill the same pot with fresh soil.

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