Container Gardening

Gardening in containers has definite advantages: you can enjoy plants where there's no garden or soil in sight; plus, you'll have a lot fewer weeds and much less bending. Herbs in pots just steps from a sunny kitchen door are handy for a quick snip while you're cooking. You can experiment with new flower and foliage combinations with less commitment than in a perennial garden. Even the containers add color and decorative touches. Because you're placing plants much closer together than in the ground, you can maximize their color effect for small spaces.

In return for these benefits, plants in containers do need more regular care than in the ground. Watering is the most critical requirement. Use the biggest pots you can manage, especially in hot, sunny spots, because they will hold moisture longer.

Do check daily for soil moisture, and water when the top inch feels dry. That might mean watering even twice a day for small pots and during the hottest, driest days of summer. It might also mean once a week or less in cool, rainy weather. Too much can be as detrimental as too little, so it's important to check first and not just water by rote. Incorporate a super-absorbent gel in the potting mix to help with moisture retention.

Because containers get so much watering, nutrients wash away much more quickly than in a garden. Plan to fertilize your container plantings every two weeks at half strength. We also recommend adding a time-release fertilizer when you plant.