Container gardening can make gardening easier

Container gardening is a great art and can even make gardening easier. A number of years ago, I was spending a fair amount of time moving around, but I still wanted to garden. Hence, a necessity for a period of time soon developed into the regular way of gardening. Read on to learn just a little bit about why I am such a fan of containers in the landscape.

Anywhere in the landscape containers can have a place. We all cherish beauty in the landscape but convenience is also important. Also, as life evolves we often have less space to garden in and time always seems to be in short supply. Containers can make life just a little bit easier, the catch is to learn how to garden in containers wisely.

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Any container that holds soil or media and has drainage will work. However, if the container is in a full sun or a windy location, then bigger is always better. Bigger containers will not heat up as quickly and will not dry out so quickly when the hottest part of summer coincides with maximum growth of your plants.

What you fill the container with is important. The media used needs to be well-drained, be well aerated and yet still have the ability to retain moisture. It is not a good idea to just use regular soil you may have in your garden. A better choice is one part soil mixed with one part peat moss and one part vermiculate or perlite.

If your containers are large and the plants you are growing do not need the entire container for their root mass, you can save money and media by filling the bottom part of the container with some type of filler instead of soil. If you happen to be placing containers in areas where they might be lifted and taken to a new location without permission then rocks as filler are exceptional.

Where the containers are placed in the landscape will dictate what you can grow. Choosing plants that will do well in the location of the container is key to success. When planting plants in other parts of the landscape you also need to choose plants that will thrive in the location where they are planted. It is also important to place plants in the container that have similar cultural needs.

Once you have these simple guidelines in order, then the fun part of container gardening takes over. Create interesting combination of colours and textures that will stay attractive throughout the growing season. Plant them attractively so that you show the plants off to their best advantage. Slightly overplanting the container early in the growing season will ensure they look fabulous from day one. Simply remove some of the filler plants as the season progresses to ensure all plants still have adequate space to grow right until freeze up.

Containers will need to be watered and fertilized a bit more often than those plants growing in the ground so ensure you make this part of your maintenance easy. Prior to planting seed the media with osmocote (pelleted, slow release fertilizer) to ensure that plant has feed throughout the growing season. You will still have to fertilize in order to get the best show, but if you miss a time or two the plants will still flourish. When fertilizing you can either feed once a week or each time you water use a dilute fertilizer solution.

Hope this column helps you to learn a little bit more about container gardening. Watch next week for more on how to successfully garden in containers.

— Hanbidge is a horticulturist with the Saskatoon School of Horticulture and can be reached at 306-931-GROW(4769); by email at; facebook: @schoolofhort; twitter: @hortiuclturepat; instagram: patyplant or check out our website at

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