Things to Remember when planting in Containers
As the seasons change gardeners start thinking about moving plants indoors. Urban gardens or indoor gardeners like myself seem to always have a new plant that needs a home. But there are things to remember when planting in containers.
When you bring or start plants in containers remember these important things. Your plants will thank you.
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Drainage: rocks or no rocks
For years people like myself were taught to put small rocks or pieces of broken pots in the bottom of flower pots to help with drainage.
The thought is that water will flow through the soil and out the bottom better with rocks. After all, rocks are used in all kinds of drainage situations.
Sorry, this is just not true and worst than that rocks can actually prevent the water from draining!
Water molecules like to stick together, this is called surface tension. Ever watch as water rises above the rim of a glass without spilling? That’s surface tension at work.
Well, it happens at the bottom of your pot too! When water meets a different material the water bonds and doesn’t want to pass through the material. This will not last long. Gravity will win out and the water will eventually pass through the rocks.
One of the things to remember when planting in containers is: If your goal is better drainage then leave the rocks out!
Size does matter!
The size of the pot will greatly affect the health of your plant.
We have all brought plants home from the nursery and found that the roots have formed a pot-shaped root ball. This is an obvious sign that the plant needs a bigger pot.
But how do you know if the plants you have are in the right size pot?
Check the drain holes. If the roots are coming out then it is time to upgrade!
Is the plant falling over? If you find that your plant and pot tips over easily then your pot is too small.
In general, the size of what you see above the soil is reflective of the size and area of what the roots need. If you plant is 6″ wide a 4″ pot will not do. Use a 6″ or even bigger if the plant is not fully grow.
A healthy plant needs room to grow.
Always Consider not just what size your plant is now but important thing to remember when planting in containers is what size your plant will be fully grown and choose a pot it can grow into. Plants don’t like
Make sure you consider the materials that your container is made from. I am a big fan of using odd and recycled things to plant in.
However, make sure your container doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that could affect you and your plant. Plants can react to chemicals in the containers as well as in the soil.
This is essential if you are growing vegetables or other edibles in containers. Make sure that plastic containers are “food grade”. Food grade plastic has a “2” in the recycling symbol. Don’t rely on just the number when using things to grow food. Check the history of the container too. Was that old milk jug used to hold bleach before it was re-purposed again as a garden pot? Never plant edibles in a container that once contained something hazardous. No matter how clean some hazardous chemicals will stay with the material.
A quick bit of homework can keep you and your plants happy and healthy.