Tip : Estimate your container area’s sun
It’s easy — and affordable One big advantage of container gardening: It requires fewer tools than in-ground gardening. A good pair of gloves and a trowel are all you need to get started. You can also check out your local co-op or share seedlings with family and friends to make your garden grow.
exposure in the spring by checking every hour or two during the day. Less than four hours of sun is shade, four to six is part-sun, and more than six is sun. Plant tags also will tell you how much light a plant needs.
THR I L L ER , F I L L ER , S P I L L ER Ornamental containers can include anything from a single tree (a citrus tree like Meyer lemon in a container grows well indoors and out) to a grouping of varied plants. Many container designers use the thriller, filler, and spiller method. The thriller is a tall, striking plant. King Tut ® papyrus, which can grow 4 to 6 feet tall in a container, has wild, spidery green flowers. For smaller containers, try Baby Tut ® , which tops out at about 3 feet. The filler is a lush, full plant such as impatiens, coleus, or even an herb. The spiller is a plant that drapes over the side of a container, such as calibrachoa, trailing petunias, sweet potato vine, or creeping Jenny.
3. Use real potting soil Fill your containers with a
commercial potting mix. These have fertilizer and materials to provide drainage that’ll stop pots from getting waterlogged. And think twice about using soil from a yard — it’ll turn to cement by the end of the summer. 4. Plan to water Containers need regular watering. In the heat of summer, water every day, preferably in the morning. Here’s one way to tell if your container plants need water: Stick a finger an inch or two into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.
There are tricks to getting plants to thrive in small spaces. These five will help you get started.
HOW MANY PLANTS IN ONE CONTAINER?
1. Match pot to plant Consider the mature size of what you’re growing. Herbs such as parsley, chives, or mint will be happy in a 10-inch-diameter container. Most patio-sized tomatoes or peppers do well in 14- to 18-inch containers. Whatever container you choose, make sure it has drainage holes. 2. Know your light Sunlight is the most important factor in any garden. If your containers will be on a shady deck all day, grow shade-loving ornamentals such as coleus, begonias, or caladium. If your patio or deck has at least six hours of sunshine a day, go wild with zinnias, petunias, or succulents. For food, grow tomatoes, peppers, or strawberries in sunny spaces.
For ornamental containers, the general rules are: • One to three plants in a pot less than 12 inches in diameter • Three to five for pots 12 to 14 inches in diameter • Up to seven in pots 16 to 18 inches in diameter.
Tip : Herbs are a terrific choice if you don’t feel like checking water levels every day. They don’t mind drying out.
For vegetables, one plant per pot works best.
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