18 April 2008

Best Containers for Container Gardening

Most of us plant in the ground and in pots of one kind and another. Vegetables are bred to grow in pots, collections of flowers look fabulous in pots, strawberry pots filled with herb plants cannot be beat for culinary pleasures and pots of cheerful flowers on a porch or balcony bring a smile. Fruit trees and shrubs in containers make dramatic additions indoors and out.

There are advantages and disadvantages to clay, coir and moss lined baskets, plastic, plaster, hypertoufe and concrete planters.

Concrete heats up and stays hot in the summer, clay breaks during freezing weather, plastic doesn't breathe, coir lined baskets don't hold moisture - on and on.
(I wanted bamboo outside the kitchen window of a previous house and knew about its tendency to take over the neighborhood. So, we bought two huge, unmovable concrete planters. They were beautiful and expensive. Two years later the bamboo had broken both planters and moved into the neighbor's yard.)

If you tend to over-water and pamper plants, clay is a good choice because it dries quickly. If you have little time to care for plants, plastic has the advantage of holding water.

Clay protects plants from drastic temperature changes. Plastic is inexpensive and comes in lots of sizes but tends to fall over in the wind.

Glazed pots can be beautiful but pricey and sometimes do not have drainage holes drilled in them so plants' roots rot.

Also, if you fall in love with a glazed pot be sure its finish is non-toxic. A good compromise is to buy that beautiful pot and put a plant in a plastic pot inside the decorative one.

There are some beautiful and inexpensive (relatively speaking) foam-like plastic pots available now. They come in all sizes, hold moisture and usually have holes drilled in them. I bought a few last year and left one outside all winter - the finish chipped off with the freeze and thaw. The one that spent the winter in the shed is in perfect condition.

The size of the pot may be more important.
Using a huge pot for a collection of small plants can cause problems. When the plants are first planted, they will not take up enough of the water provided and will have a tendency to rot the roots. It is better to plant the small plants in a better fitting pot and put something in the bottom of the large pot to support it. Consider an Ups-a-Daisy or a home made version of one that fulfills the same purpose.
Small pots do not allow enough room for root growth and soil nutrients and water.

Dark pots, including black plastic or glazed clay will tend to make plants wilt more readily than lighter color ones.
There's a website called Container Gardening Guru with tips on painting clay pots, building wooden planters, potting mixes, etc. and if a windowbox is just what you need to decorate your home or garden shed, check out www.windowbox.com.
Find a pot and fill it.

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