So you have downsized from your big house and huge beautiful garden but you still have the desire to plant flowers. What to do? Have you considered container gardening on your patio or porch? It is simple, quick, very convenient, cost-efficient, and beautiful.
Here are some steps to help you get started:
• Make a detailed list of your likes and favorite plants before you shop. Date and save the plant tag for future reference. Follow the directions. Go for the WOW plants with colors, textures, and different heights. If sunlight is a problem, place your pots on a garden pot mover with wheels. Vertical gardening with trellises on walls is a good solution to create more space.
• Check your available containers for what types of flowers would be appropriate. If the pot is too small, it will crowd the roots, resulting in a lack of water, oxygen, and nutrients — all vital for a healthy plant. If the pot is too large it can result in excessively moist soil which will cut off oxygen and will drown the roots. All flowers in each individual pot should require the same amount of light and water. Some unique containers could include a birdcage, old painted chair, kettle, old boot or shoe, bucket, old lunch box, and many more. Use your imagination as you explore your options.
• Drainage is also important. You don’t want root rot. If your container does not have holes in the bottom, use a nursery pot for planting and place inside the decorative pot so you can remove for watering and then reposition. Rocks are not necessary for the bottom of the pot. Plastic bottles are suggested. The plants will actually enjoy the extra breathing space. Foam peanuts at the bottom will reduce the amount of soil needed. No need to waste potting soil.
• Make sure your potting soil is new and of high quality. Place in the bottom of the container so it will help draw moisture to the roots. A good time-release fertilizer granule is also recommended. It will continue to feed the plants for three to six months.
• You should also place a scoop of water-soluble fertilizer in a watering can. Use this later to pour on your containers every few weeks. Do not over-fertilize. Make sure you water the base of the plant — not the eaves or flowers.
• In addition, the “soil topper” is also recommended. These could be moss or decorative stones. This will look pretty and will help hold moisture and will prevent the soil from sloshing over the edges when watered. To help remove the decorative stones at the end of the growing season, place a coffee filter or a piece of burlap under them. If there is a hole in the bottom of your container, also place a coffee filter or burlap cloth over it so the soil does not wash out.
• If you like fragrance while sitting on your patio, try planting Geraniums, Eucalyptus, Lemon, or herbs.
• Arrange your containers within reach of the garden hose for easy watering.
We would like to see your container garden. Send your new best relaxing spot to email@example.com. We may use it in an upcoming issue of the News-Messenger and News Herald.
Susan La Fountaine is a Master Gardener with the Ohio State University Extension Offices in Sandusky and Ottawa counties.