Set Up a Container Garden

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Container gardens can be found everywhere, from the estate courtyard to the apartment balcony. The vessels themselves run the gamut—classic clay urn, vintage bathtub, hollowed-out log. In this blog, we present lists of ideas as well as mistakes to avoid in container garden creation.

What is a container garden? It’s a collection of plants growing in one or more pots, urns, planters, or boxes.

Anyone can enjoy creating a container garden, whether he or she lives in a mansion or a camper or a studio apartment. All that’s needed is a few square feet of space outside the front door, on a back patio, or on a third-floor balcony. Container gardens can be large and spread out, or they can be small and compact.

In this blog we present three lists of ideas to help the container garden enthusiast just starting out. The first list includes suggestions of containers to use, from standard to whimsical. The second list gives ideas of herbs, vegetables, flowers, and plants to grow in containers. The third list comprises tips on what not to do when setting up and caring for a container garden.

18 Containers Ideas

• Terra cotta planters
• Ceramic glazed containers
• Styrofoam planters
• Wooden boxes
• Concrete planters and urns
• Bird cages (suspended or sitting on a pedestal). Succulents in sphagnum moss can grow in these containers.
• Salvaged metal tub or box. Drill holes in the bottom for drainage.
• Old toolbox
• A section of hollowed-out log
• Concrete blocks, side-by-side or stacked
• Vintage wooden soda bottle box
• Sections of terracotta drainage pipes, placed vertically
• Wheelbarrow (new or old; metal or painted)
• Old bicycle with containers hanging from the handlebars and sitting on the rear rack
• A hanging shoe holder attached to a fence with pots in the sections
• An old watering can (drain holes drilled through the bottom)
• Tall metal milk cans
• Metal pails

4 Kinds of Plants to Grow in Containers

Herbs: mint, lemon balm, basil, cilantro, sage, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, garlic, parsley

Vegetables: Jade Gem lettuce, spinach, hanging cherry tomatoes, bush or hanging cucumbers, eggplant, pole beans, swiss chard, kale, arugula, beets, bush beans, radishes, carrots, zucchini, peppers, onions, pot-of-gold chard

Flowers: nasturtiums, lavender, geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, hydrangeas, androsace, chrysanthemums, salvia, petunias, gloxinias, purple sage, baby’s breath, African irises, lantana, lilies

Shrubs & nonflowering plants: boxwood, liriope, crotons, grasses, oyster plant, ixora, holly, philodendron, Wandering Jew, ferns, ivy, dusty miller

11 Container Garden Mistakes to Avoid

• Don’t use nutrient-poor dirt. Instead, invest in high-quality potting soil to put in the containers.
• Don’t put plants in containers with no drainage holes. Water will pool at the bottom and drown plant roots.
• Don’t put plants in containers that are very small; they won’t thrive.
• Don’t install a cool-weather plant in the spring or a warmth-loving plant in the fall. Put in the right plants for the season.
• Don’t crowd a container. The soil in a container holds a finite amount of nutrients and these must be divvied up between all plants present.
• Be careful not to overwater plants. They’ll drown.
• Be careful not to underwater plants. They’ll dry out and die.
• Don’t put sun-loving plants in a container in the shade.
• Don’t put shade-loving plants in a container that gets sun all day.
• Don’t forget to fertilize. Use an organic, slow-release fertilizer from your local nursery plus a liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.
• Don’t let pests take over. Stay vigilant and get rid of them.

With the above ideas, tips, and warnings, anyone can invent a successful and beautiful container garden.

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