How to Plant a Container Garden (5 Necessary Steps)

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Once you have chosen an area that receives enough sunlight, selected the container, and made or purchased a potting soil mix, now the fun begins; choosing your plants and learning how to plant a container garden.

Whenever you plan to use a variety of plants in your container, make sure that all of the ones you purchase have similar requirements for sunlight, the type of soil, and moisture.

In other words, buy plants that complement each other.

Research container design concepts and philosophies.

A container should generally have one “thriller” plant as tall as the container, surrounded by mid-sized filler plants (which grow in a full, mounded form).

If you want the container to look balanced, include vining or low-growing plants to soften the edges.

“Thriller, filler, and spiller” is the name given to this design concept.

Also, do not be afraid to use just one gorgeous plant or several plants of one variety.

Many great container gardens use just a single plant variety.

How to Plant a Container Garden

There are several steps when considering how to plant a container garden. First, ensure the container has drainage holes, but they should be covered with an absorbent fabric. This will retain the soil in the container. Potting mix is added first and may include an all-purpose, organic fertilizer. Ensure it reaches within a couple of inches of the top of the container. Next, the plants need to be carefully removed from their nursery pots before being arranged in the container. The final stage is to gently water the plants and add more potting soil, if appropriate, once the container has settled.

1. Cover the Drainage Holes

Cover the container’s drainage holes with absorbent landscape fabric or window screening to hold the soil inside the container and keep out insects.

The material you choose must allow water to drain freely from the container.

2. Fill the Container With Potting Mix

Put potting mix in the container to within one to two inches of the top of it.

Mix in fertilizer, carefully following directions for exact measurements.

This is especially true if you use conventional fertilizer, which can burn the roots of your plants if you over-use it.

An organic all-purpose, granular fertilizer is usually a good choice.

Make sure to mix well.

3. Remove the Plants From Nursery Pots

Plants should be carefully removed from their nursery pots.

To do this without harming the plants, flip the pot upside down and push the plants out by pushing through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

If it is stuck, run a knife around the pot, between the plastic and the soil.

If a plant seems to be root-bound, gently tease the roots apart after extracting the plant from the pot.

Next, arrange the plants in the container, keeping in mind the direction from which the container will be viewed (from the rear, front, or all sides).

4. Place the Plants in the Container

Dig a hole for every plant deep enough to be at the same depth it was growing in its nursery pot.

You should not cover the plant’s crown (the point where the stem and roots meet) with soil.

Read the labels to ensure the plants have enough space to grow to their full potential.

Your container may appear sparse at first, but it will fill up as time goes on.

Fill the space around your plants with potting soil.

Ensure good contact between roots and the earth and press down around each plant to remove air pockets.

5. Water the Plants

Water generously, yet gently, until the liquid flows out of the bottom of the container.

After the first watering, you might need to add more potting soil to account for settling.

How to Grow Pot Plants in a Container Garden

Tips for Maintaining Your Container Garden

The most important part of maintaining a container garden is watering well and providing adequate food and the proper amount of fertilizer and water.

It is generally recommended to keep the potting mix moist but not wet.

When determining soil moisture, stick your finger down to the second knuckle into the soil.

If you still feel wetness, do not water.

It is tough to water your container on a sunny day because it will dry out faster, and wind can suck moisture out of a pot.

However, on cloudy or damp days, the container might not dry out as quickly.

That said, it is easy to be fooled by gentle rain, which can often lead to a relatively dry container garden.

Depending on the weather in your particular region and how hot it gets, you may have to water them more than once a day during the summer, especially if the containers are 10 inches or less in diameter.

Regular feeding will not be required if you have added fertilizer to the potting mix when you planted the container.

However, suppose you did not add granular or time-released fertilizer to the potting mix.

In that case, you should feed the container about twice a month using a water-soluble fertilizer solution.

Every time you water containers, nutrients leach out.

Plants grown in containers, therefore, require more frequent feeding than those in a garden bed.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my article and now understand how to plant a container garden.

The most critical aspects are covering the drainage holes, filling the container with potting mix, and adding the chosen plants carefully.

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