Tips for Container Gardening | Evergreen Nursery

Tips for Container Gardening

Why Plant in Containers?

Ceramic pots Whether you like carefree Mediterranean charm or more modern urban design, container gardening adds visual interest and versatility to your garden. It’s an easy way to add a pop of color to your balcony or patio or to quickly get some height into a flat landscape. In addition to a huge selection of container-friendly plants, here at Evergreen Nursery we’ve got all shapes and sizes of pots for your container garden project.

It’s not all about looks - there are practical reasons to keep plants in containers, too. When space is limited, plants in containers can be more easily maintained at a smaller size than when planted in the ground. They can be moved around depending on light and temperature requirements or to accommodate growth habits. If you live in an inland area like Poway or Alpine, you may want the flexibility to move your plants out of the hot sun in summer or protect them from frost in winter. In coastal areas like Carlsbad and La Jolla, plants may need more hours of sunlight during winter months. For convenience, consider putting a larger plant on a plant dolly.

Container gardening also allows integrating plants with different soil or watering requirements into an existing garden. Your acid-loving Gardenia can be nestled in its own pot among alkaline-loving plants like Mock Orange and Indian Hawthorn.

Choosing the Right Pot

Mexican pottery The first thing you’ll want to consider is what size and type of pot you will need. A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot about 2-4 inches larger in diameter than the pot it’s currently growing in. If you’re planting several plants in the same container, make sure there’s an inch or two around each plant to allow for growth. Annuals like pansies, stock, and snapdragons can be planted in shallow bowls. Shrubs and small trees like Japanese Boxwood or dwarf citrus varieties require deeper pots with room for roots to grow.

The material the pot is made of can make a difference too. Unglazed terracotta pots develop an attractive patina over time, but will dry out more quickly than glazed pots, so reserve them for plants like succulents that require less water, or be prepared to water more often. Plastic pots are lightweight and retain water longer, but might not be suitable in very hot areas, as they can overheat and damage delicate roots.

Preparing Your Pot for Planting

Rainbow Bush in Ceramic Pot You found the perfect pot. But wait, don’t fill it up with dirt just yet! First see that the pot has adequate drainage – it should have a least one hole in the center. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can drill more holes into a larger pot using a masonry bit for terracotta pots, or a tile or glass bit for glazed ceramics. Leave about 2 inches of space between holes and at least an inch of space near the edge of the pot and be sure to follow safety guidelines for drilling.

Before adding soil, add a piece of plastic mesh or cheesecloth to the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from leaking and clogging drainage holes. Once upon a time it was recommended to add a layer of gravel or rocks to the bottom of containers, but this practice can actually cause water to collect at the bottom and increase the risk of rot. Small gravel can also get lodged in drainage holes and block the flow of water. 

Zamia in Ceramic Pot For even better drainage, elevate the pot slightly off the ground (or saucer, if you’re using one). Some pots are fashioned with small “feet” on the bottom for this purpose; otherwise pot risers or rubber discs can be used to prop them up. Most plant dollies also come with built-in drainage trays.

Your pot is now ready to be filled with the appropriate good quality soil for your new planting. We’ve got everything you need to get started here at Evergreen Nursery – containers, soil, and of course, plants! So come on in and let us help you get potting!


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