Container Garden

Are you a plant lover but don’t have a yard to call your own? Or is your home situated on a plot of land approximately the size of a postage stamp? If you don’t have enough dirt to plant even a single miniature rose bush, you can still have an attractive and stylish garden by using containers. Container gardens offer a lot of advantages for people who would otherwise be plant-less like apartment renters and city dwellers.

Although you might assume that container gardens are nothing more than a row of potted flowers, that’s not the case at all. You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to container gardening. Since you’ve got virtually a clean slate, you can make your container garden as large or as small as your space will allow. You can develop something a little more permanent, using large and hugely heavy pots, or something more transportable that can move with you to your next apartment or that can be sheltered inside during colder weather. And these are just a few of the options.

Container Garden History

You might think that container gardening is a modern development, but that isn’t actually correct. Container garden use started with the ancient Romans. Medieval monasteries often used container gardens to grow vegetables and herbs to supplement their diets. And as more and more people migrated to the cities where land for planting was scarce, more people began to grow a few essentials in pots on their windowsills, on balconies, in patios, and even on rooftops.

Container Garden Characteristics

Container gardens can flourish anywhere, although they tend to look the best in small, defined spaces. Enclosed patios, rooftops, and balconies are common choices. Often, people turn to containers when they’re dealing with a paved area with no dirt to be had for planting as noted above. However, there’s no reason that you can’t choose to cover some small flower beds with mulch and establish a container garden on top of them. This may be a good choice for you if you’re looking to establish some delicate perennials that won’t withstand your winter weather.

One of the reasons that container gardens tend to do best in smaller spaces is because it’s difficult to adequately fill a large space with containers. It can also get awfully expensive to buy attractive planters to fill a large space adequately. So if you’ve got a large area to work with but love the idea of container gardening, consider mixing some in-ground plantings with some attractive containers.

Simply filling the area around the containers with ground cover and a few easy-to-maintain shrubs should do the trick. Or, if the area is completely paved, create a few vignettes throughout the space. Create small clusters of containers throughout the area. Or for a more formal look, place containers containing the same species of large ornamental shrub at even intervals along a long wall.

Another thing to consider when selecting a container garden is their unique care requirements. Generally, container gardens are easier to care for than in-ground varieties: you have less space to water, fewer garden pests, and little to no problems when it comes to weeds. However, you’ll need to repot plants as they grow so that they don’t become pot bound. Pot bound plants have trouble getting adequate nutrients and water, and this can result in stunted growth and even death of the plant. So using a too small container is a big no-no.

The converse is also true: using a too large container for your flowers will make them look out of proportion and can keep them from getting enough water, since the water pools at the bottom of the container and their roots aren’t long enough to get at it. So one of the major tasks you’ll have as a container gardener will be to make sure that your plants are in the right size of container to keep them healthy and beautiful. And of course, you’ll still need to water and deadhead.

Container Garden Layout

  • Just because your potting your plants doesn’t mean that it’s not important to consider the overall layout of your arrangement. A good layout will can change a bunch of plants into a beautiful garden
  • First, consider the heights of your containers and plants. As with an in-ground garden, you want to arrange the plants and containers so that they’re visible. That means that in a group, the smaller ones need to go to the front
  • While it’s true that you can avoid this problem by choosing containers of exactly the same size and shape, it’s not the best of ideas unless you’re going for a formal look and plan to plant them all with the same flower species. They say that variety is the spice of life for a reason
  • However, carefully consider the weight of larger pots if you plan to move them. A large ceramic planter will be virtually stationary when you fill it with dirt
  • If you need to stick with smaller, movable pots, you can still fill the space. Elevate smaller pots on garden tables, or turn a larger pot (empty, of course) over and place the smaller one on top. By elevating a pot with a fabulous flower in it, you’re creating a lot of visual interest
  • If you plan to keep your container garden for more than one season, it’s better to invest in nice pots. Cheap plastic pots often deteriorate in sunlight and can crack. Wood will rot
  • Don’t skip the ground cover. If you’ve got a lot of exposed dirt, cover it with mulch, pebbles, marbles, or something that makes it look a little less bland. You can also fill larger containers with a mix of larger and smaller plants to make the dirt a little less visible

Plants to Use in a Container Garden

You can plant virtually anything in a container garden. Herbs and flowers are popular choices, but there’s no reason that a larger container garden couldn’t include vegetables and small shrubs if that’s what you want. Again, the key is to match the plant with the right container and to find the right mix of plants for each container. Consider the size and style of the container. If your container is ornate, choose a shrub that won’t overshadow the beauty of the container. And for more showy blooms, choose a container that won’t detract from their appeal as well.

Some popular flower choices for a Container Garden include:

  • Begonia
  • Coleus
  • Geranium
  • Impatiens
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Zinnia

However, don’t be limited to flowers only. Herbs do particularly well in containers and can be used to add a little zest to your cooking. And who could resist some fresh cherry tomatoes or leaf lettuce from your container garden? Since you’ll have to plant them in small numbers, stick with vegetables that mature quickly so that you have enough to share with friends.

Container Garden Accessory Suggestions

Don’t forget to accessorize! A few well chosen garden accessories can really take a container garden to the next level. One suggestion is to vary the containers that you’re using. Try planting some flowers in an old wine barrel or integrate a colorful strawberry pot into the mix.

Some accessory ideas to integrate into your Container Garden include:

  • Hang some brightly colored stepping stones on the wall behind the containers
  • Lean a small section of white picket fence against a wall and plant some trailing flowers in a planter hung on the fence
  • Place a small battery powered fountain among your containers to add an unexpected twist

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