Container gardening is a wonderful way to enjoy veggies, herbs, and blooms if you lack the space for a full-sized garden. Several benefits to container gardening are:
- Ability to move plants when needed.
- Less weeding.
- Less risk of soil-borne disease.
- Ability to control light, moisture levels, and temperature.
With some helpful gardening tips and companion planting practice, you will be hooked on containers. When choosing plants and flowers to plant in a container together, it is important to consider their individual needs and growing habits. Select plants with similar light and water requirements and a container with good drainage. Here are combinations that work well:
- Petunias, Lobelia, and Verbena: This combination is perfect for a hanging basket. Petunias and Verbena provide the height and structure, while Lobelia adds a cascading effect.
- Pansies and Violas: Both Pansies and Violas have similar growing habits and add a pot of color to any container.
- Geraniums, Bacopa, and Sweet Alyssum: Geraniums provide height, Bacopa adds a trailing effect, and Sweet Alyssum fills in the gaps with a delicate, sweet fragrance.
- Succulents and Cacti: These plants are easy to care for and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They work well together in a shallow container.
- Ornamental grasses, Salvia, and Coleus: The contrasting colors and textures of these plants add interest to any container. The grasses provide height, Salvia adds color, and Coleus fills the gaps.
Companion planting is the practice of planting two or more plants together that have a mutually beneficial relationship, such as deterring pests or improving soil health. Below are some companion planting combinations that work well in containers:
- Tomatoes, Basil, and Marigolds: Basil and Marigolds help repel pests that commonly attack tomatoes, while the tomatoes provide a trellis for the basil to climb.
- Carrots, Radishes, and Chives: Radishes and chives help repel pests that commonly attack carrots, while carrots provide shade for the radishes.
- Peppers, Onions, and Cilantro: Onions and cilantro help repel pests that commonly attack peppers, while the peppers provide shade for the cilantro.
- Beans, Corn, and Squash: Known as the “Three Sisters”, this combination is a classic Native American planting technique. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits corn and squash.
- Strawberries, Lettuce, and Borage: Borage helps repel pests that commonly attack strawberries, while the lettuce provides shade for the strawberries.
- Lettuce and herbs.
Remember to choose plants that have similar growing requirements and to plant them in a container that can accommodate their growth. Potting soil for container gardening can be purchased pre-mixed and bagged and is ideal if you are only planting a few containers. However, if you plan to plant extensively, mixing your own blend is more economical. Using garden or topsoil is NOT recommended for container gardening. In most cases, garden soil will become too compact and dense in containers, impeding the plant’s growth. Garden soil also has a greater potential of being contaminated with weed seeds, disease, and pests.
Water when the plants require it, while not allowing the soil to completely dry out. Give the plant a thorough soak allowing excessive water to drain, carrying with it any built-up salts in the soil. Just as with a traditional garden the type, amount, and frequency at which you fertilize will vary crop to crop. The more you water the more you will need to fertilize due to leaching. If you are watering daily, use 1/3 of the recommended strength. There are numerous options available, and the fertilizer chosen will depend heavily on personal preference and common sense. Many pre-mixed soils typically have a slow-release fertilizer included; however, they will not usually sustain vegetable plants over a long growing season. Additional fertilizer should be added a few weeks after planting.
Container gardening is simple and enjoyable. One of the best parts of DIY container gardening is getting to create something unique and beautiful. The variety of container gardens is virtually limitless!
Don't forget about Al's DIY Container Days April 20th - 24th at all Al's locations. Choose from a container in the store or bring your own and fill it up with perennials, premium annuals and free soil! Leave the mess with us and enjoy your new beautiful creation!