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Container Gardening

01.08.12

picture 1Container gardening is the practice of growing plants in containers or pots instead of planting them directly in the ground. This method is useful where the soil and climatic conditions are not suitable for plant growth, if space is limited or for indoor planting. Container gardens are easy to start up, especially if you are a new gardener, they can be economical because you can use anything as a container and it can be adapted to suit your style and personality. Water Wise principles should be applied to container gardens to conserve water.

BENEFITS OF CONTAINER GARDENING

Saving space:

Containers are versatile, meaning that they can be placed almost anywhere, which is convenient, such as outside front doors, on patios, window sills and even fire escapes. This is ideal for flats, apartment’s townhouses or any area where space is limited. The smallest space can be enhanced by container gardens.

The ability to move plants:

It allows you to easily move plants around. Sensitive plants can be moved to protected or sheltered areas with changing seasons and weather conditions to ensure their survival. Container planting also gives you more control over the moisture, sunlight and temperature the plants receive allowing you to optimize the area for their growth and to extend their growing season.

Less risk of soil borne diseases:

Many gardens encounter problems with soil-borne diseases, nematodes, or poor soil conditions which ultimately effects plant growth. However, the risk of these is reduced when plants are grown in containers because often potting soil which improves aeration and drainage is used instead of garden soil. When garden soil is used on its own in pots it often compacts too much, causing problems for plant growth. However, potting soils should not be allowed to dry out completely as this will have a detrimental effect on your plants.

TIPS FOR CONTAINER GARDENING 

Container choice

Science Week July 099Small 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.  In hot climates use light-colored containers to lessen heat absorption and discourage uneven root growth.

Plant choice

When planting multiple plants in a container it is important to group them according to their water needs as this will ensure that watering is optimized. For example group succulent plants in one container that will require very little watering if any, and group water loving plants such as Impatients and Violas in a separate container.

Fertilising

Regular application of fertilizer ensures that soil has sufficient nutrients for plant growth and will not become a growth limiting factor thus making the most of the water being applied. Remember that fertilizer while very beneficial, over time can build up a white salt appearance on the surface of the soil. These soils must be well flushed with clean water to remove the salt layer which will inhibit active uptake of fertilizer and water causing your plants to go yellow and become susceptible to diseases. 

Watering

Pay particular attention to watering container plants, because the volumes of soil are relatively small, containers can dry out very quickly, especially on a concrete patio in full sun. The container used must have sufficient holes in the bottom for drainage; place a layer of pebbles or broken bricks over the holes to prevent soil loss. Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free water drainage out the bottom. Apply water until it begins to run out the drainage holes. Add moisture retaining granules as per instructions to help hold moisture in the soil. Adding organic mulch to your containers adds more nutrients to the soil as the mulch begins to decompose and will also conserve water by preventing evaporation.

Container gardening offers an ideal opportunity to beautify your surrounding environment, enhance small spaces and practice water conservation. Don’t delay, start today! 

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