Container Gardens are “IN” today because of their decorative use on patios, decks and entry areas. Commercial plantings in towns, shopping centers and institutional sites and places where soil conditions are poor are all the places where you will see these beauties.
The 3 Biggies are:
- Variety selection for the amount of sun the plants will receive
- The growing substrate or simply put, the potting soil
- Water and feeding regimen
The first thing to consider is choosing the right varieties for sun or shade exposure. Shade loving plants really struggle in full sun so be sure to select varieties that will grow well where the container garden will be growing.
Next is the type of soil to fill the containers with for good growth and performance all growing season. Every garden center and box store offers a bagged potting soil and some provide better results than others. Price seems to be the driving force at some sources. The raw ingredients that are used in the manufacture of these “soils” are basically a peat moss base or a combination of bark by products from other industries. Additives such as styrofoam beads, perlite, vermiculite and rice hulls are some of the items used to provide the proper air/moisture relationship so plants will grow well. In addition to these properties there are the nutritional requirements. Be sure to start with a high quality potting soil, never topsoil, it is too dense.
Nutrition from plant foods is essential for good growth and flowering. One of the key factors in having plants grow well is the correct pH or the acidity level of the potting soil along with the essential plant foods. Remember, plants are 75 – 95% water so the water quality used to care for them plays a huge part in the growing of Container Gardens. When our water source is water from a well in this area, this can lead to some issues with the pH of the soil in containers, causing it to become too high. Since our bedrock material in southwest Ohio is limestone, our well water and some municipal water, is alkaline and can cause the pH to creep up and this can cause the leaves of plants to turn a light green to almost yellow. When this happens the plants stop growing and become pretty ugly.
A good quality potting soil will help avoid these problems by supplying nutrients and oxygen to the roots that plants require. Using rain water to water plants in containers, including hanging baskets, is also a good idea when this is possible. Instead of supplying the food that plants need using a water soluble fertilizer that must be applied at least weekly try one application of a slow release fertilizer like Osmocote that provides a steady food source for the entire growing season.
Growing in the Miami Valley for 33 years.
Meadow View Growers