Sunday, June 6, 2010

Five Tips for Great Container Gardening

"And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes."

William Wordsworth

Friday we enjoyed a jaunt to Toronto for our summer Garden Writers meeting at the Toronto Botanical Gardens. Our afternoon session was led by horticulturalist Paul Zammitt, who is full of enthusiam for all things floral. One of the other garden writers said to Paul halfway through his presentation, "Paul, you make me tired just watching you buzz back and forth giving your talk."

Paul was talking on Container Gardening and he gave these five tips for creating great container gardens.

1. Remember that even though you might not even any actual ground, you can have a container garden. Most people think you can only plant flowers in pots but veggies are also quite happy to be grown in containers. Check out local seed purveyors as many are now offering vegetable selections specifically bred to be grown in containers.

2. Choose a great pot - the best you can buy. Containers can add colour and art form to the garden landscape. Invest in the most expensive pot you can as it will last longer. Many containers look great even when they are not planted. Although terra cotta is tried and true, the new resin products are looking really attractive.

3. Drainage is the key. Make sure your pot has a hole in the bottom to let the moisture run through. If you don't have drainage, you can be sure that during a wet summer, your precious plants will die of root rot. If you are worried about soil running out, place a piece of screen over the hole.

4. Use the right soil. If you fill your container with ordinary potting soil, the soil will compact over time and you will squeeze out the air pockets which are essential to the health of your plants. Create your own potting mix by combining 1/3 triple mix, 1/3 compost and 1/3 peat or coir product for ligihtness. You can also add some slow release fertilizer to the mix.

5. Finally, get creative with your plant material. Mix up perennials and annuals, herbs and veggies, or combine all four. Think outside the pot, you are only limited by your imagination. Remember though that if you plant perennials in pots, you will need to move them into the garden to overwinter.

And remember that by gathering your pots together in clusters you can create a garden where none previously existed. Paul place three pots together with the same plant material and viola, instant garden. Just ensure that to make your watering job easier, cluster pots together that have the same watering requirements. Then sit back and enjoy the beauty you have created.