Container Gardening Tips

Posted by Sunset Garden Experts on


Many people are getting into container gardening due to not having to dig up the ground each year like in your classic in ground gardening. Growing your vegetables and flowers in containers also means that you can move them around and keep them closer to the house where you can enjoy them more. 

Potential Problems:

Your Plants Are Hungry

The most common problem that people have with container gardening is that their plants being grown in them start to turn yellow or lose their vigor later in the season. This is typically because the soils which are used in container gardening do not have enough nutrients in them to get your plants all the way to the end of the growing season. For this reason it is a good idea to fertilize your plant throughout the season. The two type of fertilizers you can use are slow release or water soluble.

Slow release fertilizer is little pellets which you sprinkle around the base of the plant and every time you water it pulls some of the fertilizer out of the pellets and fertilizes the plant. This is good because the pellets last up to 2 months in the soil which is good enough for most plants to get them through the growing season. A second application however of slow release fertilizer can be done during the growing season for optimal results. You can also mix slow release fertilizer into your soil in your container pots before you plant your plants in them to help keep them happy right from the beginning.

Water soluble fertilizer is mixed in a watering can or hose end sprayer and applied once every 2 weeks for best results. Water soluble fertilizer is the best for trying to quickly "cure" a hungry plant as it gives them more of an "instant" boost instead of a slow and steady boost like slow release fertilizer.

For vegetables which bear fruit like tomatoes or peppers, and your flowering annuals a fertilizer with a higher middle number (phosphorus) is good for them. For your leafy vegetables or ornamental annuals which are mainly grown for their foliage (ex: ivies and coleus) a fertilizer that is higher in the first number (nitrogen) or a well balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 is good for them.

Of all the plants that we grow in containers, tomatoes and peppers are the best to tell you that they are hungry by their leaf color. It is very common for them to have pale green, yellow, or even purple leaves when the nutrient levels are low. 

Your Plants Die Of Frost

If you are going to plant perennial vegetables or flowers (plants that grow back every year) it is recommended that you do not plant them in containers or raised beds over the winter. This is because the roots of the plants are not as well protected (the cold can hit them from the sides as well as from the top) and can freeze much easier.

You can keep them in containers over the growing season as long as you plant them in the ground with enough time before winter to root into the ground.

For your annual flowers and vegetables just make sure that you cover them or bring them indoors during the growing season if there is a danger of frost to ensure you get the most out of them.

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