Container Gardening -
Container gardening offers a tremendous
number of advantages. And it's ideally suited for gardeners of
every type, from gardeners with problem soil, homeowners with
little or no land, plant lovers who just can't get enough of
nature, to the elderly or disabled with limited mobility and a need
for easy accessibility.
Space (or lack of it) is an obvious reason for most people try
container gardening, but that is only one for the
reasons to try it. Container gardening is also
very convenient, particularly for vegetables and herbs. Having
fresh vegetables and herbs at your fingertips is great when you
want to cook with fresh ingredients. Container
gardening also offers flexibility. You can easily
rearrange and reconfigure your container garden to add a new look
to your space.
Container gardening can also be more
cost-effective. Because of the smaller spaces involved, you'll
generally have lower costs. You will be buying fewer plants, less
media, and less fertilizer than for traditional gardening.
Container gardening can also save you a fair
amount of time. Easy access and smaller plants means you'll spend
less time caring for your plants. And by using products like
AquaRocks, AquaSpikes, SoilSyrup, Algoflash and SoilSyrup; you can save even more time
watering and feeding your container plants.
Container Gardening - Choosing The Right
The right plants for container gardening are
simply the plants you want to grow. Almost every plant can be grown
in a container: flowers, vegetables or even small bushes. While
most people traditionally think of small plants, you can try
anything. Some people like growing pumpkins and squash in containers
from their deck and let the vines hang down the deck or sprawl
across the floor. A lot of people choose to grow tropical plants,
such as citrus trees or dwarf bananas, in containers. If you live
in an area with a short growing season, you can plant tropicals in
large containers that can be moved around, both inside and outdoors
as the weather permits. If you have a large south-facing window,
place them in front of that window in the winter when the sun is
low in the south. Then move them outdoors in the summer.
There are even varieties that have been developed specifically
for container gardening. Yellow Canary Tomato is a
compact 6-inch plant that is designed for growing in pots. Red
Robin and Goldie Tomatoes work well in hanging baskets. A little
research will help you identify these varieties and help you get
maximum yield from your container garden.
Click for more information on growing tomato plants.
Container Gardening - Container Types
You can use almost any container for container
gardening. Containers are available in many sizes, shapes,
and materials. What you choose will depend upon the type of plant
and the location. And this is where the fun and your creativity
begin. Use your creative side and find a container suitable to your
taste and decor. Buckets, barrels, watering cans, vats, to name
just a few. If it holds soil, it can probably be your
You also can use planter boxes of varying sizes for
vegetable gardening or flower
gardening on balconies and patios. Or fill an old
discarded wheelbarrow with soil, poke drain holes in the bottom and
use to grow geraniums and cascading petunias.
As you think about the size of the container, consider that when
filled with moist soil, weight can be a major factor. If you are
planning on a large container, mount it on casters so it can be
All containers, whether clay, wood, plastic, or ceramic, should
have an adequate number of holes in the bottom for proper drainage.
Beware of decorative planters that lack drainage holes.
This creates waterlogged soil and rotting roots. Setting
the container on a solid surface, such as a cement or patio floor,
reduces drainage. Raising the container one or two inches off the
floor by setting it on blocks of wood or bricks to allow free
drainage will solve this problem. If you want to use a decorative
planter that doesn't have a drain hole, put your plants in a
regular flowerpot and place it inside the decorative container.
The plant selected will determine the container's size.
Generally, most plants grown in the soil can be grown in containers
as long as ample space is provided for them to develop roots. If
you are selecting larger plants, then a large container is
required. Many plants do not like to be root bound, so make sure to
provide ample size. Depth and width of the container is equally
important as roots spread out and down from the stem. Use
containers between 15 and 120 quarts capacity. Small pots restrict
the root area and dry out very quickly. The size and number of
plants to be grown will determine the size of the container used.
Deep-rooted vegetables require deep pots. Shallow-rooted crops like
lettuce, peppers, radishes, herbs and most annuals need a container
at least 6 inches in diameter with an 8-inch soil depth. Bushel
baskets, half barrels, wooden tubs, or large pressed paper
containers are ideal for growing tomato plants, squash, pole beans,
cucumbers, and deep-rooted perennials.
Container Gardening - Growing Media
Soil to be used in containers should contain plenty of organic
matter. A heavy clay soil will hold too much water and will exclude
oxygen that roots need for growth. Packaged potting soil available
at local garden centers is relatively lightweight and may make a
good container medium. It's also a great idea to add humus to your
soil by using SoilSyrup. SoilSyrup's rich organic
makeup is perfect to boost humus levels of container
Container medium must be porous in order to support plants,
because roots require both air and water. Make sure your planting
medium drains rapidly but retains enough moisture to keep the roots
evenly moist. You should add AquaRocks to your soil to improve the
water-holding capability of the soil. AquaRocks will help hold
moisture in the soil without waterlogging the roots of your
Fill the container about four-fifths full of the soil mix. When
you water the mix, it will settle and you will have enough room
between the top of the container and the top of the soil for
adequate water to be poured in each time you water the plants.
Container Gardening - Fertilizer
Container gardening requires that you
fertilize regularly, since you're flushing nutrients out with
each watering. Fertilize plants with the recommended rate of a
water-soluble fertilizer like Algoflash. It's a good idea to use a dilute
liquid fertilizer with every other watering or at least every two
to three weeks. Algoflash is a complete, balanced fertilizer that
will add trace elements to the soil. Algoflash will not burn or
kill your plants. Adding SoilSyrup can also help add humus to
protect container plants from over-fertilizing or over-liming.
Using AquaRocks in your containers will also help hold more
nutrients in the soil and time-release fertilizer as your plants
Container Gardening - Watering
Because the volume of soil is relatively small, containers can
dry out very quickly, especially if they are on a concrete patio in
full sunlight. It's even more important to add AquaRocks to
the soil to help maintain moisture levels when container
gardening. Make sure to check them and water daily if
necessary. You may even need to water twice on hot, dry, or windy
days. The smaller the container, the more frequent the watering. If
you are going away, have a neighbor check them or use our
Vacation Watering System.
Download our Vacation Watering
Instructions (pdf 89k)
Feel the soil to determine whether it is damp. If you notice
your plants wilt easily or you have to water very frequently, you
can always add more AquaRocks to the container. Simply poke several
deep holes in the soil, making sure you're reaching the root zone
and add a few AquaRocks to each hole. Remember, use sparingly,
AquaRocks will expand to almost 400 times their dry size as they
absorb water, so a little goes a long way. Consider using AquaSpikes and AquaRocks to create an automatic trickle
irrigation system if you plan to be away for extended periods.
Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes. Factors
influencing the time between waterings include size of plant within
the container, volume of soil to store the water, porosity of the
soil mix and porosity of the container. A large plant in a small
container will require watering every few days, or maybe every day
in sunny, hot, windy weather. Small pots also tend to dry out more
quickly than larger ones. If the soil appears to be getting
excessively dry (plants wilting every day is one sign), group the
containers together so that the foliage creates a canopy to help
shade the soil and keep it cool.
In an exposed location, container plants lose moisture quickly,
so they may need a little more AquaRocks than other containers.
Water clay pots and other porous containers more frequently, as
they allow additional evaporation from the sides of the pots. A
sandy soil mix will not hold as much water as a heavier clay type
Container Gardening - Sunlight
Your container garden will need at least five hours of direct
sunlight each day, and many plants will benefit from even more. As
a general rule, leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce can
tolerate the most shade, while root crops such as beets and carrots
will need more sun. Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and
cucumbers need the most sun. The amount of sunlight needed by
flowers varies depending on the varieties grown. Rotate your
containers in a circular motion every couple of days to provide
even sunlight to all the plants in the container.