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Tips for Growing Plants in Containers

By Edited Jun 6, 2015 1 0

Reasons for growing plants in containers are as varied as the people who grow them. From living in an apartment with a small balcony to simply not having much time to garden, the reasons for growing plants in containers are as endless as the options for growing them. Below are some tips to ensure the greatest success in growing plants in containers.

  • Start with a soil less mix. Do not use potting soil or garden soil in a container. Container culture is quite different from gardening in the ground and should be treated quite differently. For an easy, good do-it-yourself mix, use 4 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite or vermiculite (available at most garden or hardware stores) and 1 part wood chips. Or just be sure to buy a soil less mix.
  • Consider the container. Be sure ample drainage holes are present at or near the bottom. If there are no drainage holes, they can easily be drilled into the container with a regular drill and drill bit (for a big container, use 7/8 inch, smaller for a smaller container) if the container is plastic. Even ceramic containers can have holes drilled in, though the process is a bit more complicated. Sometimes the pretty containers are just not worth it or not well-suited for the type of plant to be placed inside.
  • Consider the plant to go in the container. Have a good understanding of the root structure. Generally annual flowers are fine for pretty much any container, as long as they are not crowded within the container. Vegetables and perennial plants may be a bit more complicated. A general rule for growing vegetables in a container is that if the container is about the size of a 5-gallon bucket, the vegetable plant should have enough room to grow. Check the seed packet for spacing because sometimes it is better for the plants to be a little more crowded within the container. For example, pea vines do best within a 5-gallon bucket if there are at least 9 of them. They climb together this way and ensure that no space is lost within the container. Some vegetables, though, should be spaced one per 5-gallon bucket, such as pumpkins, zucchini, any squash, and even peppers.
  • Location is important for growing plants in containers. Vegetables especially should be given a lot of sun, but this is complicated by the container because given too much sun, the roots within the container can burn. Try to ensure at least 6 hours of sunlight per day while also avoiding places like blacktop parking lots. Also be sure to protect containers from extreme conditions, such as cold or wind. Perhaps one of the best things about growing plants in containers is the fact that they are movable, so in cases of extreme situations, they can easily be moved inside or to a better location.


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