Container Garden University: How to Care for Container Gardens
This is your year to start container gardening. Trust us; it’s a total gamechanger, especially if you have limited free space in the yard or even on your apartment balcony. Container garden care is different from looking after plants in a garden bed, but it’s certainly nothing you can’t handle. If you’re planning on growing plants, flowers, vegetables, or herbs in pots this year, follow this guide to ensure your new plantings are happy in their little home!
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re container gardening is that the amount of soil your plants’ roots have access to is much less than what you’d get in a garden bed. Don’t worry—this isn’t a detriment to your plants; it just means you’ll need to take some extra steps to ensure your plants have everything they need. Here’s what you need to do to be sure your container garden is lush and thriving from spring until frost.
Watering Your Container Garden
Less soil means less moisture reserves, so you’ll need to top up your container garden with water more frequently. In the hottest summer months, you may find that the sun evaporates the soil moisture quite quickly, so you may need to water as often as once per day. For best results, water your plants early in the morning—this way, the roots are well insulated from the intense midday heat, and they’ll have more time to soak up that moisture. If your soil is already hot and dry, it will evaporate faster, and your plants will get stressed out. Applying a thin layer of mulch across the soil surface will help slow the evaporation of moisture.
Pro Tip: water your container garden as a part of your morning routine while waiting for your coffee to brew!
The sunlight requirements for your container garden are pretty much dependent on whichever plants you’ve decided to grow—that’s why it’s important to choose plants with similar needs! If you have one sun-loving plant and one shade-loving plant in the same container, you’ll never be able to keep them both happy.
Vegetables and herbs usually need at least 6–8 hours of direct sunlight per day, but it depends on the cultivar when it comes to flowers and plants. Many annuals like Petunias and Calibrachoa want tons of sun, while others like Fuchsias prefer partial shade and gentler morning light. One of the awesome things about a container garden is that if it’s getting too much or too little sunlight, you can always move it to a new location!
Fertilizing Your Container Garden
Similar to the water situation, you’ll need to top up your container garden with fertilizer more frequently because the available nutrient reserves are significantly less. Once per month, applications of water-soluble fertilizer from May until September should do the trick. Additional all-natural formulas like fish or seaweed emulsions can help further to fortify the soil with nutrients and beneficial bacteria.
The type of fertilizer you use for your container garden depends on the types of plants you’re growing. If you’re growing edibles like herbs and vegetables, you’ll want to use a fertilizer formulated for edible plants. All-purpose fertilizers work well if you’ve got a lot of plants and want to simplify your care routine, but there are specialized formulas for flowering annuals, succulents and cacti, potted citrus, roses, and all sorts of other plant varieties. These specialized formulas will provide the best results because they contain the perfect balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium to keep your plants healthy and properly functioning.
Additional Care Tips
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when growing a container garden:
-Watch for pests and diseases, and treat the issue immediately upon discovery to prevent further damage.
-Deadheading spent flowers may be necessary to encourage reblooming.
-Long, trailing annuals like Petunias may get a bit leggy near midsummer, so you can trim them to keep them looking tidy and fuller.
-Always sterilize old plant containers before planting anything new inside.
If you have any questions about container garden care in Abbotsford, you’re more than welcome to pop into Windsor Greenhouse to speak with one of our plant gurus! We only want success for you in your gardening endeavours, so we’ll do our best to equip you with the tools you need to grow a beautiful, thriving garden.