Gone are the days when gardening was an exclusive hobby for people with large outdoor space. If you don’t have a backyard, you can grow nearly all veggies, herbs, and flowers in containers, as long as you provide for their basic needs and devote the same passion and care for your plants.
The catch is not all are blessed with green thumbs with some having a bad experience. On the other hand, others may be starting from scratch and are intimidated by the idea.
With that, we’ve listed some valuable tips to help grow successful container gardens. Continue reading below as we’ll help you keep your plants thriving and say hello to a healthy and charming a successful garden.
1. Plan before you plant.
Having a successful journey on a specific activity or hobby often entails beginning things the right way. To do that, you must plan thoroughly to give a sense of direction on what you’d like to achieve in your container garden.
Start by choosing which veggies, herbs, fruits, or plants you want to have. You can search online to help you decide. However, make sure to assess your skills. If you’re still learning the ropes in gardening, it’s best to opt for plants that are easier to manage and save the more complicated ones to grow in the future.
Check your space and the spots where you’d be placing your containers, whether it’s on your balcony, windowsill, porch, rooftop, or if you’d be using hanging planters. With that, you can estimate the number of pots you’ll be needing and the size of the containers that will fit your space.
2. Ensure proper drainage.
One thing most people overlook having proper drainage for their container plants, not being aware that it’s vital to successfully grow their plants. If the pot doesn’t drain too well, water sits at the bottom of the pot, which creates an unhealthy environment for the plants.
While they need water, an excessive amount blocks the air pockets in the soil, preventing the smooth aeration that they need for the process of photosynthesis. As a result, the roots rot, leaves turn yellow, wilt, fall off, and the plant eventually dies.
Sadly, not all garden pots have ample drainage. As a general rule, small to medium-sized containers should have four to eight holes in ½ inch diameter, while larger-sized pots should have the same number of holes of at least an inch in diameter.
So, unless you’re keeping aquatic plants, you need holes and proper drainage in your pots for happy and healthy plants.
3. Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize.
Potting soil usually doesn’t have sufficient nutrients for your plants. So, you need to add them to your container to keep the nutrient levels high and improve your plants’ growth and vigor.
As much as possible, opt for organic fertilizers as they have decent amounts of essential nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which they get from sources like compost, manure, and blood meal. While organic fertilizers have lower NPK analysis, they release these nutrients over time, making them ideal for your plants in the long run.
Synthetic fertilizers boast a higher NPK analysis and release the macronutrients almost immediately for absorption. However, as they’re made of chemically-processed raw materials, too much of it can damage plants, burn foliage, cause soil compaction and degradation, and reduction in soil organic matter.
With that, organic fertilizers are good for the long term, while synthetic fertilizers are only ideal if you need a quick boost or are pressed in time to grow your plants.
4. Provide Adequate Sunlight Exposure.
Veggies, herbs, and other crops in your container garden need sunlight exposure to thrive. However, don’t overestimate the amount of light they need. Otherwise, the sun will destroy and kill your plant.
Follow the recommended light conditions for your chosen plant. What’s great with container gardening is that you can easily move your pots where the sun can hit them, and transfer them under a shade once the sun rays intensify.
That way, you can easily manage how much sunlight they receive and how long they will be exposed, ensuring the proper growth of your plants.
5. Water accordingly.
Like in sunlight, different plants have varying needs for water. Some plants love to drink more, while others are less thirsty. Again, check the water requirements of the crops you’re growing and water accordingly. However, consider the weather and climate, as you may need to water them more often, especially during the summer, during heat waves, and in drier climates.
Meanwhile, outdoor plants also need more water, as they’re exposed to higher temperatures, direct sunlight, and windy conditions. Thus, drying the soil quickly. These are other important factors you need to assess and take note of in providing adequate water for your plants.
6. Use plant tags.
With the plants’ varying needs, it can be quite confusing to handle them and meet their specific requirements. So, simplify things by using plant tags. Label your plants based on how much fertilizer, sunlight, water, and care they require. You can also tag them based on the zones they will thrive in, or if they’re annual or perennial. Markers can also help classify and identify how fast and how much your veggies will grow, the design and container sizes they need, and other factors valuable in growing your plants.
7. Plant suitable neighbors.
If you’re planning to put different plants in one pot or container, ensure that they are suitable to grow together. That means that they have the same watering, sunlight, and fertilizers needs. Combining plants with different requirements isn’t only hard to manage, but will also cause other plants not to thrive. Place vegetables that love water together, and combine ones that survive in drier soil. Of course, you also want plants that require full sun together and never add in any that won’t require too much sunlight.
8. Choose the best soil.
Soil is highly important to your plants. It’s where they grow and stabilize, get the nutrients and minerals, and absorb water. With that, it’s only right to provide the best type of soil to support its needs. Garden soil can be used in containers. However, they usually contain too much clay, rendering them too heavy and too compact. A good soil mix includes a combination of garden soil, sand, silt, clay, compost, and additives like perlite. Such mix will provide good aeration, retain moisture well, ensure good drainage, and possess a solid anchoring system for your plants.
9. Accept that some plants will die.
Plants will eventually die. Even the most expert at container gardening will kill plants. Of course, you can always do your best to rehabilitate and save them and see them resiliently coming back happy and beautiful. Yet, there are cases where it’s better to give them up. If you’ve done your part but they still didn’t rebound or if they’re showing some serious signs of diseases, take them out and just grow a new plant in its place.
10. Be ready to commit.
Remember that container gardening is a commitment. No gardening system is easy to maintain. It will take your time, patience, attention, hard work, and even a portion of your budget for a container garden to succeed. So, be ready to commit. Don’t worry, the endeavor will be fun and interesting. Once you see all your beautiful veggies, herbs, and plants growing and harvesting your homegrown produce, all your efforts will be rewarded, making it more exciting to continue growing your container garden.