Container planting is really easy—but like most things, success depends on starting off right. I’ll take you through every step of the process to get your flowers, herbs, and vegetables potted up perfectly.Container Planting Guide:
Follow this process step-by-step and you’ll see your clay flowers pots, perennial flowers, herbs–all you plant–produce beautifully through the growing season.
- First, start with clean, well-scrubbed pots. Soak any that are clay–this includes terra cotta pots as well as plain clay flower pots. A clean container aids in providing your plants a pest and disease-free environment.
- Next, cover the drainage holes with gravel, shards of clay pots, burlap, moss, rocks. . . lots of things work here. (I keep all the clay pots I’ve bought little plants in at the nursery—they come in handy for this and in spring for seedlings).The point is to allow the water to drain through, but prevent the potting soil from clogging the holes.
- But what if you’re planting in a terra cotta pot or window box with no holes (which I don’t recommend)? Some people add a layer of sand or gravel at the bottom to catch any excess water and allow it to be drawn back up slowly.Some add charcoal to keep any water at the bottom of the planter freshened. To me, pots that lack drainage are a dangerous proposition because you must be spot on with the watering. Too much or too often and you really do risk root rot.
- If this is a garden planter that—given your climate, the plant, and the pot type—might be able to stay out through winter, you can insulate the sides with foam or whatever other material you like before you go further.Container Planting Tip: Concrete planters can winter over easily, whereas a cold climate is tough on terra cotta and some thinner plastics.
- Money-Saving-Tip: If you have a large pot, now is the time to add the fillers. I’ve done container plantings using Styrofoam packing peanuts and overturned plastic pots. I’ve heard people use plastic soda bottles (washed out of course). This is a fine idea if you’re planting annuals because they’ll only grow one season, and may not get down to the bottom-of-the-pot soil level anyway.You’ll only want to add these fillers to about 25-30% of the pot’s height. You can substantially reduce your outlay of money for container soil this way and create a lighter, more movable planting.Don’t use this idea if you’re doing a permanent planting.