Wednesday, April 4th, 2012...4:04 am

Preparing Planters for Container Gardens

Seen on a Side Street in Bakewell, Derbyshire by UGArdener

You have chosen the containers or planters that you want to use to for your plants. Now we have to fill the planters with soil. You want to use planters large enough for the plants you want to grow in them. The plants will need room for their roots to expand. And if you are planting flowers and interesting plants, you will want to fill the containers with as many plants as possible for a really pretty effect. Since you will be fertilizing and watering throughout the season, you may be able to plant quite a number of plants in each pot. Just be sure that the pot holds enough soil.

First REMEMBER that most plants want good drainage. So check to see that you have at least one hole in the bottom of the container that you are using. The hole or holes will allow excess water to flow through. So we have to use something over the holes that allows the water to flow through while preventing the soil from being washed out when it rains or when we water the plant.

What allows excess water to flow through a hole but prevents the soil from washing out? Many people use broken pieces of old clay pots to cover the hole. If you don’t have any broken pieces of old pots, don’t worry, there are other things one can put in the bottom of the pot. You can put a shallow layer of stones or small rocks. Chose sizes that will not fall through the hole but not so heavy or big that they will make the pot too heavy and take up too much room.

Some people use what is called landscaping cloth that is sold in hardware stores or places like Home Depot. Just cut a small square or round to fit the bottom of the pot and put it in.

Many people use those “peanuts” which are pieces of styrofoam that is used for packing a package for mailing. TheGardenLady would not recommend your buying these peanuts because they are not organic; but if you already had a package arrive with them in, instead of dumping them in the trash, use them for your containers. Preferably sew or put the “peanuts” into a little string bag like onions or garlic comes in so that you can get them out of the soil when you dismantle the planter.

There are various small objects that will cover the hole but will allow drainage. Friends say they cover the holes of pot with leaves which will eventually rot and compost in the pot.

After you have that shallow layer covering the holes in the pot, you want to fill the pot or container with soil. The type of plant you use may determine the soil you will use. For most plants that are used in containers, potting soil that you find in your garden center is what you will be using. This GardenLady likes to buy the potting soil that has fertilizer already in it but that is not necessary. Do not use garden soil. Most container gardeners do not use garden soil because it compacts and is heavy. A lot of container gardeners like to add compost to the potting soil. The general formula is two parts potting soil to 1 part compost. You can also use all compost if you are lucky enough to have it. You can add some vermiculite or perlite to the soil to improve the drainage but retain moisture. Firm the soil down- but not too compact because we will be putting plants in the soil. If you are using compost, the compost will compress with time, so it is important to firm it as the pot is being filled. Your pot should be filled to about one or two inches below to the rim. This will make it easier to water the plants.

Next comes the fun part- filling the containers with plants. (And more about soils for some special plants.)

See here.



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