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Become a Container Gardening Pro!

Container gardening can be a very rewarding adventure if done correctly. Care and patience are required when developing your container gardening strategy just as an in-ground garden would. Some considerations when planting above ground are drainage, food, sunshine and compatibility. With the following tips, you too can create a stunning outdoor space without having to dig up your yard.

lots of plants in containers

Container Gardening Tips

1. Make sure your container has drainage or create some!

Choosing the right container for the job can be so much fun. Don't limit yourself to store-bought pots or containers meant for plants. Think outside the box and brighten up your housing cooperative through the use of unique containers. Everything you can think of, just about, can make a great container for a plant. Think coffee cans, watering cans, laundry baskets, coffee mugs, soda bottles, metal pails and more. The options are endless! But, when you find the right container for the job, make sure you drill, poke or cut many drainage holes in the bottom. If your pot doesn't have enough holes to let out the extra water, your roots will likely rot and your plant can die.

hundreds of planter pots

2. Feed your plant.

Plants in containers only have access to what you provide them. Therefore, if you do not feed them regularly, they will suffer. There are many options for plant feeding including organic fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, slow release fertilizer, bone meal, fish meal, coffee grounds, egg shells and more. If you are growing vegetables, I recommend choosing an organic liquid fertilizer or mixing half potting soil with half compost and feeding throughout the season. If you're growing flowers, make sure you get a fertilizer meant for feeding flower blooms.

plants in wooden container at housing cooperative

3. Choose the right sun/shade location.

Though pots are easier to move around than a garden, once filled with dirt, those pots can get very heavy. Choose your plants ideal location before you add dirt to save your back from all that heavy lifting. And though some recommend filling the bottom of a large pot with filler such as packing peanuts, rocks or wood chips, others do not recommend it as fillers can make retaining water difficult. Stick with a good blend of potting soil and compost and fill to the top to give your container the best head start.

branches overhanging garden in park forest

4. Create visual contrast. Get creative with your pots.

You don't have to settle with just one flower or plant per pot. Combining different heights, colors or textures with two or more plants in one pot are a great way to add contrast and color. If growing edible plants, combine for cooking! Plant tomato with basil and garlic. The garlic bulb will develop under the dirt, the tomatoes will bloom high above the dirt and the basil will stay mid level. This provides three variances in height, color and taste for a fun, festive container that will make for a tasty harvest at season's end.

cherry red tomatoes

5. Don't forget the fruit!

Strawberries grow great in containers, in fact, they love growing out of the side of containers so they can hang. Line a laundry basket that has plenty of big holes (a cheap, flimsy one works perfect) with a burlap sack. Cut holes through the sack to match up with the holes in the laundry basket. Now fill with half potting soil mixed with half compost and plant the strawberry plants sideways into the side holes of the basket. Next, plant a blueberry plant on the top of the basket and wha-la, a fruit salad in a container.

pile of mixed berries found at farmers market in park forest il

6. Water regularly.

Don't forget about your containers...ever... Plants in pots need extra watering by you as they are not able to soak up water from the earth as other plants can. Depending on where your containers are located, they may not even get the benefit of a good drink when it rains. If the pot is small enough to move temporarily when it rains, put it out under the sky to soak up rain water, then move it back to its permanent location after the rain. Remember it's best to water first thing in the morning or late at night when the sun is close to going down. This prevents burning of the leaves after being exposed to moisture and helps retain more water by preventing evaporation during very hot times.

watering can at cedarwood co-ops

7. Give them lots of love.

It has been PROVEN that plants that receive loving kindness grow at a faster rate and harvest more successfully than plants who do not. In fact, one study done on the effects of negative talk to plants showed that plants exposed to negative thinking or talking, such as telling the plants they are ugly and stupid (literally this study did this) died after just a few weeks of all that bad talk. Another way to show love to your plants is to place decorative items throughout the outdoor space. Plants love mingling so give them a cute statute or two to keep them company, sing to them from time to time and don't forget to smile throughout your garden work. They will appreciate it all summer long and you will appreciate it come harvest time.

flower and statue at Cedarwood home

The above tips and tricks should provide you with a great foundation to get started. Whether you have a green thumb or a black one, following the above recommendations should help you develop and maintain a beautiful container garden to enhance your housing cooperative space. Place containers on your porch, in your front garden bed, along your walkways or next to your door. Have fun and get creative. Have you done any interesting plant combinations in pots here at Cedarwood? Share below!

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