Plants can be grown in containers for several reasons, and you may need to know how to create a container garden.
However, there might be circumstances in which it is the only way to succeed.
For example, when the soil in your garden is poor or does not drain well, containers make it easier for plants to thrive.
Containers allow you to move them around to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.
Even if your yard is heavily shaded, it is possible to plant sun-loving plants in containers that can be moved into the sun.
Additionally, container gardening offers some unique design options not available with other forms of gardening, particularly window boxes and hanging baskets.
However, growing plants in containers is not quite the same as in-ground gardening, so here are a few unique techniques to help you do it successfully.
How to Create a Container Garden
You will need a garden trowel, a container with suitable drainage holes, window screen or landscape fabric, potting mix, time-release or granular fertilizer, and plants with similar growing requirements. Container gardens are usually planted simultaneously as in-ground gardens after spring frosts have passed or before the last fall frost. You may be able to plant earlier than usual in the spring because container soil warms up more quickly than garden soil. The growing season is thus extended with a container garden. Containers should be covered or moved indoors if an overnight cold spell threatens early spring or late fall.
How to Prepare for the Container Garden
1. Assess the Sunlight
It is possible to grow a gorgeous container garden even if your yard receives very little direct sunlight.
However, if you have a yard bathed in natural sunlight all day, you can also grow spectacular containers.
It is crucial to understand how much sunlight your container garden receives in order to choose the right plants for it.
It is pretty standard for gardeners to grossly overestimate the amount of sun an area gets per day.
Hence, it is essential to estimate accurately.
To determine how much sun an area receives, go outdoors several times a day to observe the location where your containers will be placed.
Take time-stamped pictures of the site throughout the day to determine the amount of direct sunlight or shade it receives.
Make sure you measure the amount of sunlight when you plant your container garden, as the sun’s angle affects the light.
The sun angle is different in the winter than in the summer; in addition, deciduous trees nearby will not be in full leaf in winter.
Therefore, the total daily hours of full sun, dappled sun, or shade that an area receives determines the plants that will grow well under those conditions.
Sunlight is required by every plant daily.
A plant that requires “full sun” needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
A full sun vegetable needs at least 10 hours.
Part-sun or part-shade plants need between four and six hours of daylight daily.
Shade-loving plants are likely to do well with three hours of sunlight per day.
2. Choose a Container
Planters can be made out of anything as long as the drainage holes are adequate.
Nevertheless, the bigger the container, the more soil it holds.
More soil means more water that is retained and is available to your plants.
Small containers of 10 inches or less in diameter dry out very quickly in hot and dry spells.
Though some plants do not mind these conditions, most become stressed by drought.
In addition, agricultural diseases and pests thrive in stressed plants.
Therefore, it is advantageous to use the most oversized containers possible.
Whenever you purchase a container, make sure it has adequate drainage holes; if not, you must create them.
A large container should have at least one drainage hole of one inch in diameter and preferably several.
For containers that don’t have enough drainage holes, you can drill, punch, or use a pointed tool to pierce some extra holes.
Self-watering pots work by containing a water reservoir that keeps the roots moist without any assistance from you other than filling the reservoir with water.
3. Buy (or Make) Potting Mix
The growing medium used in container gardens is often called potting soil; however, it contains no soil, at least not the same kind found in garden beds.
More appropriately called potting mix, this sterile growing medium comprises organic and inorganic materials such as compost, peat moss, perlite, sand, and other ingredients.
A notable absence is the presence of living organisms (including insects and pathogens) and other minerals typically found in garden soil.
Do not buy garden soil or topsoil for your container gardens, and do not dig soil from your garden beds.
Instead, most gardeners purchase commercial potting mix by the bag.
Still, you can also make your own potting mix by blending perlite, peat moss, or vermiculite and adding well-decomposed compost to it in an equal proportion.
(There are many homemade recipes for potting mix that you can find online.)
Commercial potting mixes sometimes include time-released fertilizer already blended in.
Choosing fertilizer-enhanced or plain potting mix is OK, but this might reduce your regular feeding schedule, which is usually every two weeks.
How to Plant a Container Garden
I hope you enjoyed this article on how to create a container garden.
Further articles will explain how to plant and maintain your container garden.
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