Making plant containers isn’t difficult at all. It is a great way to create an amazing scenery of flowers and plants which you can move around easily.
As you’re the master of your back(front)yard, you can create anything you like depending your mood!
Planting in containers is a skill all gardeners should learn, and yes – experience is all you need.
Containers filled with seasonal or permanent plants are extremely versatile.
They can brighten up a corner of the garden, provide handy herbs to use in the kitchen, or make the entrance look as welcoming as possible.
Yet, life in containers can be tough for plants, so you better choose the right compost and carry out regular maintenance to ensure they put on a good show for everybody.
Seasonal garden plants are all you need, as well as decorative plant containers.
However, there are a few tricks and techniques to master, so you can create containers to impress everybody.
Pot Types – Which Ones To Choose
These kind of pots are lighter than clay and usually don’t dry out as much as clay or terracotta ones.
There is a wide range of plastic pots available, and some even look like terracotta pots and may be cheaper – but they’re not as authentic in appearance as clay ones.
These are affordable plant pots, and you can also choose to have cheerful planters by using colorful garden pots.
Clay or Terracotta Pots
These ones look very attractive, but they tend to dry out more quickly than the plastic ones. You should also be aware that clay or terracotta pots are also prone to cracking, usually caused by frost.
Advice: Look out for frost-proof pots, or stand pots over winter, so you can prevent water-logging, as by doing so, you are reducing the risk of frost damage.
And one more thing – they can be more expensive than others.
This is a very popular material, with a quite a modern look.
Metal containers are frost-proof and won’t dry out like clay. But, the problem is – they heat up quickly in summer and dry out the flower, and likewise, they are very cold in winter and can freeze the flowers.
Also, other potential problem is corrosion over time.
Wood is problematic using it as a pot, as it rots.
You can extend the lifespan of a wooden container by lining it with plastic sheeting with holes in the bottom,and painting the wood with a preserver.
Or, you can use a wooden pot, but to plant flowers in plastic container hidden inside the pot.
How To Do The Planting In Pots
- Choose a robust container as large as you can handle, so it will allow plants to flourish
- Use a pot with multiple holes in the base, as it is ideal to allow excess water to drain out
- If the pot has only one central hole, add crocks at the bottom of the pot because this will prevent soil from leaching out the hole
- Before you add plants, add a peat-free multi-purpose compost to about 3/4 full, and place drainage material in the bottom of the container, such as broken up polystyrene, stones or broken terracotta (crocks). Fill the container with compost, leaving room to arrange the plants on the surface.
- Choose a focal point plant such as a tall plant with notable foliage, or an annual climber-climbing up a central support
- Contrasting colors or contrasting textures make intriguing displays. Try trailing plants, Helichrysum or Lysmachia to spill over the container edge giving a lavishing pot look.
- Carefully remove the plants from their pots, tease out the roots gently and work more compost around the root balls. Ensure that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the compost.
- Firm the compost around the plants.Water generously to settle any air pockets, and top it up with compost if it’s necessary
- Leave 5 cm (or 2 inches) between the top of the soil and the top of the container, because this will prevent compost from spilling over the edge when watering.
- When you place containers in their final position, consider placing them on pot feet, so excess water can drain away. Another reason to do so is because it is easier to move them into another position when they’re slightly raised.
How To Keep Plant Containers As Healthy As Possible
You will need to pay more attention to plants in containers than to those in the open ground.
What to do?
- Maintain an even water supply and ensure good drainage to prevent water logging (always use pot feet)
- A little bit of rain may be insufficient for plants in containers, as the plant leaves usually act as an umbrella for heavy rain. Check the moisture level of the soil after rain to see if you need to water the container manually. Or, you can install an automatic watering system if you are away from home more often.
- Apply a high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer if plants look yellow or tired, and high-potassium liquid fertilizer for flowering and fruiting crops
Maintenance of Plant Containers
It’s not so difficult to maintain your plant containers if you follow these guidelines:
- Check the compost moisture levels daily from April to September and water if dry. This often means watering once or sometimes twice a day.
- Start feeding 4-6 weeks after planting, unless the compost contains a slow-release fertilizer
- From April to September, use a general-purpose liquid feed, unless the compost contains a slow-release fertilizer. Feeding isn’t necessary during winter.
- Deadhead regularly to encourage more flowers to form
- Re-pot in early spring. For permanent displays, re-potting is needed at least every 2-4 years to prevent problems with drying out and water-logging.
- Reduce watering during winter months
- Ideally, prevent the compost from freezing by moving containers under cover, or covering them in bubble-wrap
- In very wet periods, move pots under cover to prevent the compost becoming sodden
What To Plant in the Pots
Generally, you can plant anything you like, as long is it arranged carefully and being put at the right place.
Most often people plant:
- Tender geraniums
- Vegetables, etc.
Plants in containers need attention all year long, but summer is the most critical period as plants can soon run short of water and nutrients.
- Check for moisture daily from April to September (twice daily in hot weather)
- Water thoroughly, filling the container to the rim and allowing it to drain, then filling it a second time to ensure that the whole of the compost is adequately moistened
- If water is not draining out freely, check the drainage holes for blockage and assess compost structure – as the organic components decay, the compost becomes soggy, dense and lacking in air spaces
- Lining or sealing terracotta pots with waterproof materials is unlikely to significantly reduce the need to water as most water is lost though plant leaves
- Grouping pots for mutual shade will reduce heat stress on pots
- Mulching pots will help reduce heating and suppress weeds, but as most water is lost through plant leaves careful watering will still be needed
- From April to the end of August use a general-purpose proprietary liquid feed or, preferably, a high-nitrogen feed
- Alternatively, add a controlled-release fertilizer at planting time
- With soil-less composts, make sure fertilizer includes essential trace elements
- After late summer feeding is usually suspended until mid-spring; however bedding plants and other short-lived annuals will still benefit from feeding until early autumn
- Feed when the compost is moist
In winter, the main danger is compost freezing, which may kill plants.
- Protect pots with bubble plastic or bring them under temporary cover
- In very wet periods move plants under temporary cover if the compost becomes sodden, until it has dried out a little.
- In wet weather, raise pots up off the ground on “pots feet” or similar, to keep the bottom of the pot out of the water
- Remove saucers in winter
Watering and Feeding
Watering may still be necessary for conifers and other evergreens, especially if you have moved them under cover, so that they receive no rain.
- Check evergreens and conifers at least weekly and water if needed
- Watering is seldom necessary for deciduous or other dormant plants
Also note that feeding is not necessary during the winter months as it does at summertime.
Over-watering is the most common cause of loss of container plants.Watering should aim to keep the compost moist, never soggy and avoid alternating dryness and saturation.
Plants grown in containers suffer from many of the same pests and diseases as when grown in beds and borders such aphids, algae, liverworts and moss, as well as scale insects.
And one final word – don’t over-pot if you want to have a beautiful display!
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