When you are ready to mix ingredients for your container garden, be sure the soil is damp and workable. To determine this, take a handful, squeeze it and allow it to drop. If water comes out, it is too wet; if it breaks apart, it is too dry. But if the lump of soil retains its shape or cracks just a little when it is dropped, it is in good condition to work into your gardening pots.
Be certain your garden containers are clean when you start. Soak used or new clay gardening pots overnight, so they will not draw moisture from the soil after planting. This is a very important step when you are beginning your plant’s life. If the pot draws off the moisture the new plant will be deprived. Clean dirty clay pots with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water. Clean gardening pots will be much more attractive in your container garden.
Though redwood, cedar, and cypress gardening pots may be left natural, they may also be stained or painted. First, clean the surfaces then apply one or two coats of stain or paint. Let dry completely before planting. Concrete, metal, plastic, fiberglass, and similar materials all need cleaning before planting your container garden.
Suiting plants to garden pots is very important in container garden design. Consider the shape of each container, its color, and texture in relation to the color of flowers and foliage, as well as the ultimate size of each plant in your container garden. Don’t choose material that is too small, and if you want a group of plants for a large container, select one tall specimen for the center to give height and scale. Don’t forget that you can plant vegetables in container gardens; try to incorporate them into your container garden design. And, for a tasty addition to your container garden plant herbs in garden containers or even hanging baskets, your recipes will become marvelous.
In low pots or bulb pans and in tubs, use low-growing plants like fancy-leaved caladiums, petunias, verbenas, Iantanas, ageratum, and wax begonias. Hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are also appropriate. In tall containers, plant specimens of geraniums, heliotropes, coleus, balsam, dwarf dahlias, fuchsias, and marguerites. Reserve the larger container pots and boxes for trees and shrubs or roses.
As a gardener, keep in mind the form of plants, particularly the evergreens which stand out boldly in winter. Rounded types, as clipped yews or globe arborvitae, look well in angular containers. Hollies or yews, sheared into squares or pyramids, look better in circular tubs. This contrast of the curving with the straight always gives interest to the garden and those guests that visit your container garden.
The first step in potting for a gardener is to place sufficient drainage material in the bottom of each garden container, allowing the water to pass through freely, but not so much as to interfere with the roots. An inch or two of flower pot pieces (rounded sides up), or chips of brick or flagstone, pebbles, gravel, small stones, or cinders can be used. The larger the container, the larger the pieces should be. Some gardeners spread a piece of coarse burlap and a layer of sand over large drainage pieces. A layer of Vermiculite or sphagnum moss over the drainage material is also fine to keep soil from clogging holes. If the holes clog the roots will drown in their gardening pot.
Above the drainage, spread a layer of soil, the amount depending on the size of the container and the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in position so that the surface of the soil will be an inch (more for big plants) below the rim of the container. This space is needed to hold water.
Fill soil in around the roots, firming gently with your fingers or a piece of wood to eliminate air pockets. Add more soil and firm, but do not make the soil too tight for fine feeding roots must be able to penetrate it with ease.
Finally, water your garden container plants well, let them drain. If water passes through the gardening pot very rapidly, press soil again to firm it; that means there are air pockets. If the soil holds water too long, loosen it a little.
Place the container garden in a sheltered spot out of sun and wind for the first week while they make new root growth and adjust to new conditions. This also helps to avoid shock. Once your plants have settled in, you ready to arrange your container garden according to your original container gardening design.
Happy Container Gardening!