Containing your excitement: Container garden tips

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Updated Aug 18, 2021
Container gardens allow for flexibility of design and versatile plant life. Photo: Scrappy Annie/FlickrContainer gardens allow for flexibility of design and versatile plant life.
Photo: Scrappy Annie/Flickr

While traditional gardens may be popular among your customers, there may be a few that prefer the versatility of a container garden.

For those who want to harness the power of containers to create their outdoor oasis, take a look at a few helpful hints you can pass along to them to make sure their container plants are alive and thriving.

Select a pot, plant and soil

Most plants aren’t necessarily picky about the kind of pots they grow in, as long as they have enough room to flourish and drainage holes to let out excess water.

Pots come in all shapes, sizes and materials, and they all work equally well, but each pot will require certain upkeep depending on what it’s made of. Some plastic pots may need drainage holes drilled in the bottom, and terra-cotta pots could do with a good soaking in a pail of water for a day or two to hydrate it before filling it with soil.

Choosing what will go in these pots is the next step, as the options are pretty much endless. When planted in a larger pot, even shrubs and trees will thrive.

Most customers may have a preference for herbs, vegetables and flowers, and they will most likely want their container garden to be on their terrace, patio, porch or deck.

Once the plants are chosen, it’s time to pick the right kind of soil that these little greenies will be in. Be sure to always use quality commercial soil when potting these plants, as soil from your customer’s garden will harden into a solid mass when dry.

When choosing a quality potting soil, tell your customers to keep an eye out for the following amendments: rotted manure, peat moss, vermiculite, compost and/or perlite.

Lighting, layers, watering and fertilizing

When choosing plants, pay close attention to the type of lighting conditions they will require, as you won’t want to put two different types in one container.

Planting in layers is also a beneficial method for creating eye-catching looks your customers are sure to enjoy. Remember to include the tried and true thriller, filler and spiller method when designing containers, and be sure to choose complimentary varieties when choosing colors and leaf forms.

Container plants will require more frequent watering than traditional gardens, so advise customers to water whenever the soil surface is dry to the touch. When the temperatures are particularly hot, customers may need to irrigate their containers every day. This is especially important when it comes to hanging baskets, as they are more affected by the wind and will dry out faster.

Along with watering comes regular fertilization. If your customers want their plants to stay in tip-top condition all season long, this step is an absolute must.

Many types of potting soil have slow-release fertilizer already mixed in, but it’s still a good idea to add just a few extra drops of liquid fertilizer in whenever they water.

Remove, renew and replace

Once your customer’s plants have bloomed out, it will also be necessary to remove any dead or faded blooms, also known as deadheading. This process will help encourage new flowers to emerge.

For larger plants, it’s sometimes possible to simply pull off old blooms with your fingers, but for smaller flowers, it’s typically recommended that lawn clippers or scissors are used.

Even with proper and consistent care, some of your customer’s perennials and annuals may still begin to look tired or drab by the end of summer. Instead of trying to bring them back from the brink, carefully remove them from the pot and replace them with something thriving to give the container a second wind.

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