3 Steps to Healthy Containers
Container Gardens are a great way to experiment without commitment and take risks with plant combinations you might otherwise shy away from in your garden. It is an enjoyable way to enhance your landscape while having fun at the same time! A few simple guidelines will help ensure a gorgeous healthy container all season long...
Step 1 is to select the proper container. Esthetics are important but good drainage is key. Without proper drainage roots are deprived of oxygen and therefore rot from suffocation. Using a drill to make several holes ( I would recommend at least 3 and up to 10) is a simple way to provide this necessary drainage for containers that are without holes. Small containers are always in need of constant watering so if that isn't your thing I would recommend a container at least 1 ft wide x 1 ft deep. Containers create a plant environment that is demanding as the competition for nutrients and moisture is constant for such close plantings. A lightweight soilless mix will help your plants to thrive under these conditions by providing the necessary medium for healthy root growth.
Step 2 is to plant your choices close together unlike the traditional spacing in the ground. Tight spacing will allow the container to look full from your initial planting and help maintain a lush appearance as the plants continue to grow. Use enough plants to conceal the edges of your container and leave as little soil as possible exposed. Be certain that your choice in plant material is suited to the sun exposure it will be recieving daily.
Step 3 is to provide proper maintenance to your containers. Watering is critical! Check on your containers daily by sticking your finger into the soil to a 1 inch depth. If it is dry - water. Watering on a schedule will likely result in over or under watering. The size of your container, your climate, their location and what they are made of will influence their watering needs but daily checks will ensure that these needs are being met. While you water take a little time to remove the old leaves and spent flowers. This regular grooming will allow your plants to look their best even at close range. Last but not least fertilize. I always add a slow release fertilizer to the soilless mix at the initial planting as most soilless mixes do not contain enough of the 3 necessary plant nutrients of potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus to support proper plant growth. I will also apply a water soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks to maximize flowering and general plant health. The results are well worth the extra time.
I love to get up close and personal with my flowers and take pride in knowing that my diligence has provided them with vibrant health and beauty!
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier