Add dirt, a plant and water occasionally and viola!, you’ll have an instant flower or vegetable plant. If only it was that easy. A few extra steps done at planting time will help ensure that you get the most from planting containers which means you’ll be getting the most from whatever you choose to plant in the containers.
Good drainage is essential for a healthy plant. If the water you pour in at the top of the container can’t drain through the soil and out the bottom, the plant will become water-logged in wet soil and drown. Make sure the planting container has sufficient drain holes on the bottom, then place a coffee filter over the hole inside the container to prevent the potting soil from running out along with the water. Place a handful of Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of the container before adding potting soil to help prevent soil compaction and improve drainage.
Use a good quality potting soil in the planting containers. Mix in a healthy scoop of compost, a scoop of slow-release fertilize and a handful of water-retaining granules into each container of potting soil to help keep the soil rich with nutrients and moist throughout the growing season.
Adding a layer of mulch to the top of the soil is often forgotten in planting containers, but the soil in containers dries out quicker than ground-level soil and adding a layer of mulch is beneficial to container-grown plants. Mulch for containers can become a part of the growing arrangement, like moss or a small ground cover planted around the soil’s edge, or use decorative pea gravel, wood chips or shredded newspaper. Mulch, organic or inorganic, will help you get the most from planting containers by keeping the soil cool and retaining soil moisture.
Water Soluble Feeding
Container grown plants need watered daily, sometimes twice a day in the middle of summer. Water and feed them a steady diet for optimum growth by mixing water soluble fertilize at one-half the recommended rate and feeding them twice a week.
To keep flowers producing and looking tidy, deadhead the plants after the flowers are spent. Pinch the top of plants off while they are young to encourage fuller plants growth.
Keep vegetables, like tomatoes, harvested to encourage the plant to produce more.
Pretty Planting Containers
Save leftover exterior paint, even the tiniest amount, and use the paint to pretty-up old planting containers. Pretty flowers (or vegetables) don’t have to be grown in dull looking terra cotta planters or plastic containers, use bright exterior paint to paint bold stripes, polka dots or other designs on the planting containers so their beauty will match that of the plants growing in them.