Limited space? Plant a ‘Container Garden’

Limited space need not keep you from the joys of gardening. The use of containers to make gardening a reality or enhance more traditional landscapes is growing in popularity.

“Container Gardens” are a good option for residents of apartments, condominiums, and retirement homes, houses on small lots or places with patio space. Containers are mobile, allowing a gardener to take the plants along or move them for an instant splash of color. A tablespoon of slow-release fertilizer per gallon is often added to provide a steady supply of nutrition in a limited volume of soil which becomes deficient rather quickly.

Enjoy your plants more fully by locating them on patios, balconies or window boxes. Container possibilities may take the form of super sized flower pots, half a whiskey barrel, thrift store finds, it fact you can use just about anything for a container garden as long as it has a drainage hole/s in the bottom of the container. Container gardens must support the needs of their “occupants,” and soggy soil will be a quick road to failure.

Container gardening, however, is not without its problems, especially in North Carolina. A plant growing in an exposed location is under more stress, dries out faster and needs a regular watering schedule. Consistent rains and watering tend to leach the nutrients from the containers, requiring a regular fertilizing schedule.

Plants that grow well in containers are wide-ranging, from the strictly ornamental to the edible. Growing edible crops in containers can be enjoyable and productive. Look for excellent bush varieties of tomatoes such as heirloom, tomatillos, artisan, or cherry tomatoes. Bush varieties of squash would be fun to plant. Cucumbers with a tomato cage can also be grown in a large container. A bushel basket works well for tomatoes, and squash need at least a 2-gallon pot.

Herbs also work well in containers, and even dwarf fruit trees can be attractive and productive. Woody ornamental combined with vines and seasonal annuals provide a stunning display. Even with limited space, containers provide lots of options!

For sunny areas, cascading geraniums, “wave” petunias, dusty miller and celosia can be striking plants in a container. For shadier spots, try caladiums, or impatiens, one of America’s most popular bedding plants. Whatever plants and colors you select, remember, it’s your container and it should appeal to you!

For information on building your own container garden, contact Nancy Olsen at your local Extension Office at 450 Smith Circle Drive in Elizabethtown or local garden center and they’ll be happy to help.