Container gardening tips

How to keep a successful container garden

By Valerie Cooper - Associate producer

· Planting in containers has several advantages. They allow you to use your landscape space more efficiently, can be portable for indoor and outdoor weather, and are ideal for smaller spaces like apartments, rental houses, balconies and patios.

· Anything that holds soil can be used as a container.
o Clay or terra cotta pots are porous and help prevent soil from getting too saturated but may need to be watered more often.
o Wood containers such as barrels or buckets can suffer from moisture problems so you'll need to put another container inside of the wooden one.
o Plastic containers range from nursery pots to highly decorative versions.

· When choosing containers there are several things to consider.
o Good drainage is essential, so be sure the drainage holes are unobstructed. You can put gravel at the bottom of large pots to help.
o Make sure the container is big enough to allow root growth. Check the plant tag to get an idea of the plant's mature size before planting.

· For a successful container garden, there are basic elements that should be included.
o Soil – Fill the container with quality potting soil up to an inch from the rim. Any more will wash out when watering.
o Water – More frequent watering is necessary for container plants. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Water until liquid runs from the bottom of the container.
o Food – Use diluted plant food. You can use slow-release fertilizer or a quick release form.
o Light – Provide light requirements as dictated by the plant tag. If mixing plants in the same container, be sure the light requirements are the same.
o Grooming – Prune, deadhead and pinch back as needed. Watch for disease and pests. Remove dead foliage and flowers to prevent fungal diseases.

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