ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Fun Of Container Gardening

Updated on February 26, 2010

In today's world of hectic modern living, limited space in urban environments and multiple demands on our time, container gardens offer us a world of possibilities. A friend who works long hours and lives in an urban town house, has asked me to help her spruce up her lovely but empty raised patio. As a beginner, she is looking for low-maintenance plants. Her beloved dog, Spike, is a bit of a nibbler so she also wants to find plantings that will be nontoxic. While most of the patio is shaded, the front section, where we will be placing the containers, gets up to seven hours of sun per day. Our goal is to create containers that look great year-round.

Choosing the Right Container

Containers come in all shapes, materials and sizes and vary in price. It is easy to spend a small fortune on containers if you don't know where to buy them. Try Target, Kmart and Home Depot and also look for end-of-the-season sales in July, August and September. Since my friend wanted year-round outdoor containers, we decided to avoid ceramic, cement or terra cotta, which tend to crack in freezing weather. Thus we chose a product called Garden Lite, a type of Styrofoam that weighs almost nothing and looks exactly like stone, ceramic or terra cotta, but at a fraction of the price.

Not all containers come with drainage holes. If you plan to use them outside, you must make holes in the bottom so that the water can drain out. Take a hammer and large nail, and punch the nail through the bottom of the containers, creating holes the size of a penny.

Choosing the Right Plants

For the containers, we have chosen a beautiful and unusual array of perennials and annuals. Tall lettuces grace the rectangular planters surrounded by sun-tolerant coleus, lamb's ears and Sedum sieboldi. For splashes of color, we included New Guinea impatiens, Melampodium "Showstar" and Celosia in castle yellow. The round planters feature dwarf spruces skirted with pineapple mint.

It is important to consider how much sunlight your containers will be getting and to select plants that will thrive in that environment. Pick plants that are compatible with one another, meaning that they look good together, rather than randomly choosing plants that you like. Arrange the plants with height in mind. If you are using a round container, place a taller plant in the middle, a ring of slightly shorter plantings around it and, if space permits, low-growing vines or small plants. Pack them in! Don't worry about crowding the plants; they will be very happy huddled together.

Planting and Soil

When you first bring your plants home from the nursery, place them in the shade for a few days and water them daily. Pinch off any dead leaves or blooms to discourage pests. Purchase a potting soil that is already filled with fertilizer, such as Pro-Mix or Sunshine Mix. To encourage better drainage, place gravel, small stones or even Styrofoam packing peanuts on the bottom two-thirds of the container. Fill the rest of it with potting soil, leaving 3 or 4 inches unfilled at the top. Then squeeze in as many of your plants as you can!

After Care

Containers in full sun need to be watered daily and containers in less sun can go every other day. Fertilize your plants every time that you water. Pinch or cut off dead blooms and leaves, they will attract pests and discourage growth. If pests do invade your containers, first try to remove them by watering them hard. If that doesn't work, try drowning them in horticultural oil, which you can purchase at any nursery. If that doesn't work, try insecticide soap.

With a little ingenuity and nurturance, you can create garden containers that are as unique and beautiful as they were in ancient times. Put your energy into choosing unusual perennials and unexpected combinations. Don't be limited by symmetrical arrangements, and feel free to be as creative as the space allows. Take chances and try new cultivars, there are so many to choose from. And most important, enjoy yourself!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)