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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Friday, April 15, 2011

Container Gardening

Don’t have much space to garden but love growing plants?  Well don’t fret you can always grow flowers, vegetables, and flowering shrubs in pots and containers! Not all shrubs respond well to being planted in pots and containers.  In general you want to avoid ones that have large, fleshy roots.  Almost anything that will hold dirt can be used as a planting container but, be sure to drill a drain hole in the bottom.  Some ideas for containers are wine or whiskey barrels, and metal pails.  Of course, you can purchase all manner of clay, glazed clay, and Styrofoam pots from you local garden center.  When choosing a container for your shrub, consider the mature size of the shrub.  A plant that grows 4’-5’ Tall and 3’-4’ Wide will require a pot at least 2.5’ Wide and 1.5’ Deep.
            In preparation for planting a shrub in a container, make sure that there is a drain hole in the bottom (some pots do not come with them).  If it does not be sure to purchase the correct bit for the material and drill one.  The next thing to do is pour an inch to inch and a half of drainage material into the bottom of the pot.  Drainage material can range from crushed aluminum cans (my Grandma swore by these!), broken clay pots, or course gravel.  This layer give the water an out at the bottom of the pot so the roots do not sit in water for an extended period of time.
            Use a good, name brand potting soil such as Fafard or Miracle Grow.  I personally like to use soil with no added fertilizer or “water retainers”.  This is because I like to add my own; typically, I really like Osmocote’s Time Released Pellets.  The soils with “water retainers” can keep the roots of the plant too wet and cause root rot.  Place enough soil in the bottom of the pot so the base of the plant’s stem is level with the top of the container.  Place the plant in the pot and fill and tamp the soil around the root ball. 
            Water thoroughly anytime the soil dries out.  Check this by sticking your finger into the soil.  If it is dry water the soil in the pot thoroughly and deeply.  You want water to drip out the drain hole in the bottom of the pot.  Watering like this pulls fresh air into the porous spaces in the soil.  A little know fact is that a plant’s roots need oxygen to function correctly.
            It is a good idea to pull the shrub out of the pot once a year to replace the soil, trim the roots (in order to prevent the plant from becoming root bound), and clean the pot.  This will help keep soil born diseases from killing the plant.  This is also a good time to determine if the shrub should be moved into a larger container.  Thanks for reading!!!


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