The beauty of growing plants in containers comes from the fact you can do it pretty much anywhere. Whether you live in an apartment building with no access to a garden, or you do have a garden but want to decorate the house, literally anyone can do it. Growing plants in containers is fast and easy to maintain, but there are certainly ways things can go South pretty quickly. That’s why we put together these 7 tips for growing plants in containers.
1. Choose An Airy & Nutrient-Rich Soil Mixture
You can make pretty much any soil mixture airy and nutrient-rich. Simply add a good amount of compost, other amendments, and some aeration. You can check out our favorite soil recipe to use for this here. As long as it has a generous amount of organic matter in it, including tree bark, your soil should be airy and have the nutrients it needs. You can even use plain old compost instead of using any soil at all. However, beware you won’t need to water as often since compost retains water very well. For this reason, you will want to allow for good drainage, which brings us to our next point.
2. Having Proper Drainage
Many pots and containers do not come with drainage holes at the bottom, allowing root rot to inevitably happen. When we don’t properly drain our pots or containers, we risk drowning out the plants inside. When you fill up a plant container with water, there’s no way for the water to escape besides being absorbed by the plant, but there’s only so much water it can take before it drowns. Drill some drainage holes if you’re using a wooden container, or any container capable of having a hole drilled in it. Cover those holes with some sort of mesh to catch any soil trying to escape. If you can’t drill a hole in your pot, add a bunch of rocks below the soil and definitely avoid overwatering.
3. Water Plants Well
So you want to avoid overwatering, cool, but you also want to make sure your plants are well watered. Growing plants in containers means you’ll have to water them differently than you would plants in a garden. Patio and balcony containers tend to dry out more quickly since they’re in the sun. Wooden planters and containers also allow air in through the sides, drying out your plants more rapidly too. In this case, adding a layer of mulch to the top of your soil will retain any moisture and allow it to last longer without evaporating too quickly.
4. Fertilize Regularly (organically, of course!)
Growing plants in containers calls for constant monitoring of whether or not the plants are getting fertilized properly and regularly. Plants in pots depend on you for fertilization, so be sure to have fertilizer handy. Some quick and simple additions you can make are adding used coffee grounds to the top or crushed egg shells. Additionally, you may choose to water in your fertilizer or feed your plants compost tea for an added nutrient boost! Of course, there are a number of organic fertilizers available for you to use as well.
5. Large Containers vs Small Containers
You may want to go for a large container over a small one to ensure plants are getting as much attention as they need. Some plants need a lot of space to grow their roots in, while others will do just fine in a mason jar or small pot. If you plan on growing vegetable plants, consider getting containers that can carry at least five gallons of soil, as they require a healthy amount of soil and space to grow. Keep the container size and plant types in mind when growing plants in containers.
6. Reamend Your Soil Regularly
Soil should be reamended regularly. Typically, you will do this after each harvest. The reason for this is that last year’s crop likely used all of the nutrients within your container gardens. You will notice your plants begin to look withered when the following year comes around. When reamending your soil, simply follow the steps found in this article and place back into the container to use again for your next round of crops!
7. Keep the Environment in Mind
Be mindful of where you keep your plant container, as some plants require lots of sunlight, while others will do just fine sitting atop your refrigerator. Also, avoid mixing opposite plants in containers, meaning one plant may need sunlight in the morning while the other plant may die if it gets too much sunlight. Plant accordingly and place your containers in the best suitable place for the plants.
Show your plants some love! Think about living in an apartment, and all of the things you need to do to stay sane and healthy in that apartment. You need to clean, have enough food stocked and practice good hygiene. Plants are the same way, and they get lonely just like us humans do, so show them love and care for them as you would yourself. They’ll show you the same love back!