Container Gardening

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Container Gardening

With urban homes growing progressively smaller, garden space is decreasing proportionally, or simply does not exist.  That leaves avid gardeners no option but to create gardens within their cluster homes and apartments.

Garden pots and planters allow even apartment dwellers to experience the joy of gardening within the tiniest balconies, porches and patios, and can perk up dull corners by bestowing colour, beauty, warmth and a positive energy.
Aesthetic considerations are usually paramount in choosing plants and their containers.  How well they can enhance the look of a home is limited only by one’s imagination.  Essentially, the size and shape of the plants and pots must complement each other.  Painted and decorated pots give a unique look.  Place plants where there is adequate sunlight (preferably morning light) and reasonable protection from heavy rain and frost.  Beginners may do well to go for idiot-proof plants that demand little maintenance and weather blunders reasonably well.  On the other hand, the more enterprising, passionate gardeners who take immense pride in their flowers and enjoy the thrill of growing their own herbs or even a vegetable or two, may want to consider special soil mixes that bring out the best in their prized plants.

Some Basic Pointers While Getting Started

Do

  • buy garden pots with drainage holes, or drill holes in pots without them.
  • buy garden pots that match plant sizes – consider the plant’s dimensions as it matures, and ensure the container is large enough for the plant’s roots to grow into the soil, but not too large. It is advisable to re-pot every 1-2 years depending on the plant’s growth, rather than putting a small plant in a very large pot.
  • water regularly, as pot plants are entirely dependent on your watering can, unlike ground plants which spread their roots for water. Check the soil for moisture regularly.
  • use fertiliser periodically as soil nutrients drain away easily from pots.
  • prune regularly; remove dead leaves and flowers.
  • choose container material that suits the climate, décor and type of plant. Container material affects the frequency of watering required, among other things.
  • use plants that are hardy and well suited to potting conditions as far as possible.

Don’t

  • over water your plants. Water logging is as bad for pot plants as water starvation.
  • buy pots with narrow openings, or of cheap material that deteriorates with exposure to sun and water.
  • overcrowd containers.
  • place plants with different watering and sunshine requirements in one container, as it will be impossible to control how much each plant gets.
  • use garden soil in your containers as the risk of pest infestations and soil borne diseases is high; potting mixes are better as they are lighter, allow air circulation, and drain better.

Plant Potting Tips

Plant containers must ideally have a diameter between 1/3 and 1/2 the height of the plant.
Clean, sterilise and dry used pots before reusing them, to get rid of disease or build-ups from previous plants.
When buying decorative containers, it is advisable to use a separate plant pot, and place it inside the decorative container.
Add just enough potting mix to the container, leaving an inch from the top of the pot when the root ball of the plant is set in it, allowing space for water.
Water the plant thoroughly before replanting to help remove the roots easily, and to avoid transplant shock.
Use transplant fertilizer to help the roots recover and start growing again.
Once the roots of a plant have filled the pot and begun to grow back into the ball, gently loosen them and guide them outwards before repotting, to ensure that they grow into the new soil. Badly tangled roots may have to be gently cut.

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