Container Gardening


Cultivating a New Hobby: Container Gardening!

During this unprecedented time in history, many people are taking comfort in cultivating a new hobby.

Gardening – even when done on a “micro” level - offers a gratifying outlet that literally “bears fruit” (or herbs and flowers in this case!) for you to enjoy. Following are some helpful tips for getting garden started with little to no space at all! As long as you have a pot, some dirt, water, and sun, you can grow some pretty (and tasty!) things.

Growing Herbs and Flowers in Containers

Container gardening offers a great way to control the soil, sun, and growing conditions of your plants. It also allows squeezing plants into the smallest spaces, by putting them on your patio, front steps, and along the house and driveway. Virtually any herb or flower can be grown in a container if the container is large enough for it. Basil, chives, thyme, and other herbs also are quite happy growing in pots, which can be set in a convenient spot right outside the front door.

The maximum size (and weight) of a container is limited by how much room you have, what will support it and whether or not you plan to move it. If your container garden is located on a balcony, be sure to check how much weight the structure will safely hold. Herbs and greens can grow in small pots or hanging baskets. The larger the pot, the more soil you can fit, and the less often you'll have to water. The material the pot is made of, and its color also affects how quickly it dries out. Clay pots lose moisture faster, and black pots retain more heat.

Whatever container you choose, drainage holes are essential. Without drainage, soil will become waterlogged and plants may die. Self-watering, double-walled containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes are available. These are a useful option for dealing with smaller plants that need frequent watering. You can even find soil specifically balanced for container gardening with slow-release fertilizer already in it for the most absolute no-fuss garden.

The Basics of Container Garden Care

Water container plants thoroughly. How often depends on many factors such as weather, plant size, and pot size. Don't let soil in containers dry out completely, as it is hard to rewet. To keep large containers attractive, spread a layer of mulch as you would in a garden. This will also help retain moisture. Be sure to keep mulch an inch or so away from plant stems.

Container gardening plants need regular feeding. Fertilize them by watering with diluted fish emulsion, seaweed extract, or compost tea. Or foliar feed by spraying the leaves with doubly diluted preparations of these solutions. Start by feeding once every two weeks; adjust the frequency depending on plant response.


Containers planted with a mix of plants are fun to create and offer almost unlimited possibilities of combinations. The best combinations depend on plants that feature handsome foliage and flowers produced over a long bloom season.

Designing your Container Garden

Clusters of pots can contain a collection of favorite plants — hen-and-chicks or herbs used both for ornament and for cooking, for example — or they may feature annuals, dwarf evergreens, perennials, or any other plants you'd like to try. Houseplants summering outdoors in the shade also make a handsome addition to container gardening. Window boxes and hanging baskets offer even more ways to add instant color and appeal.

One easy guideline for choosing the plants to combine in a container is to include "a thriller, a spiller, and a filler." That translates to at least one focal-point plant (the thriller), such as coleus or a geranium with multicolored leaves, for example, combined with several plants that spill over the edge of the pots — such as petunias, bacopa, creeping zinnias, or ornamental sweet potatoes. Finally, add the fillers, which are plants with smaller leaves and flowers that add color and fill in the arrangement all season long. Good fillers include salvias, verbenas, ornamental peppers, and wax begonias, as well as foliage plants like parsley or licorice plants. You may also want to include a plant for height, such as purple fountain grass. Add a trellis or pillar to a container and you can use a vine to add height to the composition. You'll need a total of five or six plants for an 18- or 24-inch container, for example.

Just one stroll through any of our Lake Park communities reveals that many residents are successful container gardeners! The natural surroundings of our properties make “micro” gardening a fun and fruitful experience for those interested in exercising their “green thumbs”.

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