In Part 1 on container gardening, we discussed some advantages to container planting, material choices, and soil needs. We’ll continue the discussion here in Part 2 with growing suggestions and how to keep up on maintaining your containers:
What to Grow
Anything can grow in a container as long as it has space. Even trees can thrive in a big enough pot. Most people, however, opt for flowers, herbs, and vegetables. When mixing plants, make sure you combine varieties that like the same amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients. For example, tomatoes, chives, basil, and parsley go well together. For shady planters, combining coleus, impatients, begonias, caladium, and fuchsias is a good choice. If you have a sunny spot, heat-tolerant plants like zinnias, petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, and alyssum look beautiful together for several months. For a big impact, go for a layered look and mix up different shapes and colors. But that doesn’t mean you have to combine if you don’t want to. Grab a mixed bag of petchoas or plant different colored petunias together for symmetry that’s still stunning and vibrant. Whatever you choose to plant, make sure you start off with strong, healthy plants.
To keep your container garden looking beautiful all season, remove faded or dying blooms by deadheading each week. Clip away flower heads on larger species with shears or pop off the tops with your fingers for smaller floral blooms. For tiny flowers, use scissors or lawn clippers to shear back the plant as needed.
Make sure you’re watering your containers consistently, but don’t over water. It’s common to drown your plants because you’re worried the container is drying out. If you have hanging planters, they’ll likely need a little more water because they drain so effectively. Test the soil with your finger and only water based on the needs of what you’ve planted. If you have drip trays, be sure to drain any standing water. Waterlogged plants won’t survive long, so drainage is crucial for all plants.
No matter how well you maintain your container garden, plants sometimes don’t make it all season. With container gardening, it’s easy to pop out a dead plant and replace it with a one or two new ones. Switching out a couple plants that are past their prime will give your container a second life for the rest of the season.
Prep for Winter
Once your container garden is done for the season, don’t leave it outside full of the dead plants. You’ll want to clear it all out and bring them inside, especially if you have ceramic or terra-cotta pots, which can crack during freezes. This is also a great time to prepare for your spring bulbs and get them prepped so they’re ready to pull out at the beginning of next season.
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