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Gardening Using Pots and Containers

Gardening Using Pots and Containersby Diane Quinn

You don’t have to ignore your green thumb just because you don’t have a planting area around your home.

Gardening in pots has been around for a long time and continues to gain new followers. Follow these tips from container gardening pros, and your efforts will be rewarded.

Best plants for container gardening

Whether you want to grow flowers, vegetables or herbs, there are varieties that will flourish in container garden pots better than others.

  • Flowers — Few annual flowers beat the durability of the geranium when planted in a pot or window box. Another over-performer is the colorful Madagascar vinca that’s also heat tolerant. If your gardening pots are in the shade, add the unique foliage of the coleus plant (also available in sun varieties). The furry gray leaves of the dusty miller contrasts well with brighter foliage and can tolerate full sun or partial-shade areas.
  • Vegetables — Most vegetables should be planted as seedlings in gardening pots without competition. Bush and dwarf varieties work best, but standard sizes can also flourish. For best results, the container must be in a sunny spot that enjoys at least five hours of sun each day. All-star container gardening vegetables include beets, collards, green onions, kale, leaf lettuce, radishes, peas, summer squash, tomatoes and turnips.
  • Herbs — Aromatic herbs also need most of a full day of sun to thrive. Perennial herbs can live in gardening pots year-round if the pot is large enough to hold at least 5 gallons of soil, are considered hardy for the planting zone where you live and have good drainage. Use plastic pots if you hope to resurrect new growth in the spring because ceramic or clay pots can crack during winter. Never-fail herbs for container gardening include basil, chives, cilantro, tarragon, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Choose the right gardening pots

Because container garden pots are made from different materials, be aware that some materials can work against the health of your plants.

  • Materials — While you might love the style of clay terracotta pots, if you live in an arid climate, porous clay pots will heat up and draw moisture away from your plant roots.
  • Size — When you have made the decision which flowers, vegetables or herbs you want to grow in your gardening pots, research the recommended size for each one based upon the needs of their root system.
  • Drainage — A common mistake novice container gardeners make is choosing pots that don’t have proper drainage. The result is plants that die from root rot.

How to mix and match plants

Just like people, not all plants get along well when planted together. For best gardening in pots results, mix plants that need the same amount of sun and water. It might seem obvious, but more than one container gardener has tried to plant a cactus with a plant that requires water.


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