If your green thumb is itching to get a head start this spring, why not try your hand at container gardening. It’s cheap, you don’t need a lot of space, and even the most proficient plant killers stand a chance of success!
Creating a visually appealing and rewarding container garden is something anybody can do, no matter how small the space is. Even if you think your thumbs are more brown than green, there’s a plant out there to suit you! All you need to do is decide what look you’re after, how much time you’re prepared to commit and start planting.
Choose a theme
First, you need to consider the type of container you would like to use. One of the main elements to a successful container garden is to choose a theme that complements the existing style of your home. Are you a post-modern minimalist? Go for sleek lines and solid colours. Like a bit of retro action? Think geometric patterns and mixed textures. Or if your apartment channels vintage, consider using paint-dipped terracotta or recycled objects as containers for a more eclectic feel.
Placement can also be a factor in helping your container garden look the part. Choose containers that share a theme but differ in width and height to bring some variety to your garden. You can also group pots in small clusters to create a sense of depth and fullness, especially if your new plants have some growing to do.
Maximise your space
If your outdoor area is tight on space, it’s time to get creative. Rather than cluttering up valuable floor space, why not grow your garden up? Creating a stunning vertical garden is easier than it looks — you can house small pots on outdoor shelves, create a recycled pallet garden or hang pots from windowsills. Or if you are really stuck for space outdoors you can bring your plants inside. Not only are they protected from the elements but they’ll give your mood a boost and help purify the air you breathe to boot!
Not all soils are the same
Many container gardens fail because of poor quality potting mix. Choose the best you can as a superior potting mix will help maintain a good balance between holding moisture and draining well. Because potting mixes don’t contain soil — they’re made up of recycled organic material — they can also be formulated for specific plant types. So whether you’re growing vegetables, herbs, roses or orchids, you’ll find a mix that will suit your needs at your local nursery.
Don’t stress. You can still have a vibrant container garden even if you’re a tried and tested plant killer. The key is to choose the right plant for the container, the location and your level of commitment. Don’t try and grow bonsai if you’ve only got time to look at your plants every second week and don’t put shade-loving ferns in direct sunlight.
Your choice in containers can also affect your plants’ wellbeing. A cluster of terracotta pots may be the look you’re after but clay pots quickly absorb moisture, resulting in dehydrated plants. If you’re committed to the look of terracotta then you’ll need to water your plants regularly or choose varieties that require less moisture. Plastic, too, has its pitfalls as it heats up quickly in the summer sun so remember to pop plastic pots in the shade when the weather gets warm.
All you need is love
Once you have your garden all potted up, don’t forget to feed it! Container gardens need a little bit of love and care to keep them looking good, especially through the hot summer months. To help keep maintenance to a minimum, you will need to:
- Mulch your container garden to trap moisture
- Water your potted plants every week and every third day during hot, dry weather
- Feed your plants once a fortnight with a quality seaweed-based fertiliser
- Move tender plants indoors during winter.