6 Tips for Container Gardens in Small Spaces
Outdoor container gardening has been exploding in popularity over the past few years for several reasons:
- More people are living in apartments and town homes where there isn’t as much in-ground space available to plant so they are turning to containers to get their “plant fix”
- Those that do own a home with a yard still want to add color and height to decks, patios and other outdoor areas that aren’t suited to in-ground planting
- New materials, shapes, colors and sizes of containers are becoming more widely available — new shapes fit unusual spaces and fresh new designs accent any style preference
- New dwarf plant varieties suited to containers are becoming more widely available for both flower AND vegetable plantings
- And (perhaps our favorite reason:) using new, clean potting soil in a container garden means less weeding!
We have a lot of people coming into the garden center asking about unique and functional container gardening ideas, so we wanted to share our…
6 Best Tips for Outdoor Container Gardens
- Choose the right size container. For example, if you want to grow a full-size pepper plant, you’ll need at least a 12-16″ container. If you just want to grow some herbs on your backyard picnic table, you can go with a much smaller size.
- Make sure your container has adequate drainage. All plants planted in containers need proper drainage. That means even if you find a gorgeous pot in a perfect size and shape, if it doesn’t already have a hole in the bottom and you can’t drill one, we recommend avoiding it. If you absolutely can’t pass it up, try planting in an inexpensive plastic pot and using the pretty one as a pot cover. Just be sure to dump out excess water after watering.
- Put the container in the right location. Basically, certain plants NEED certain amounts of sun here in Rochester, NY, particularly vegetables. If you want to be successful with your container garden it’s important to either put the container in the right spot for the plants you want to grow, or choose different plants if your container location can’t be changed. (For example, trying to grow a tomato plant on a shady porch will be difficult…)
- Choose plants well-suited to containers. Many plants can “survive” in a container for one season, but choosing those that flourish in small spaces will make your experience much easier and more successful! New for 2017, we are growing a line of dwarf vegetable plants (including cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and others) that thrive in containers. These plants don’t mind growing in a smaller space and stay tidier than their full-size counterparts as they grow so they’ll both fit in AND be attractive enough to have up close in your main outdoor living space.
- Plant for beauty AND function. Planting both flowers and vegetables in the same container means you get the best of both worlds in a small space. For example, you could plant a tomato (using a colorful tomato cage) for height in the center of a large container, and then plant upright marigolds and cascading petunias around the base for color and to invite pollinators. Or plant a mixed herb garden near your grill or close to your backdoor to make it easy to add fresh herbs when cooking.
- Be creative! This is perhaps our best tip because we love seeing plants take root in all shapes, sizes and locations! Try using an unconventional container like a box or wheelbarrow or shoe… the possibilities are endless! (Just be sure to remember tip #2 on drainage.) Check out our Container Gardening Pinterest Board for more unique container ideas.
Our Green Thumb staff is available any time we’re open to talk about choosing the right containers and plants for your specific situation. Come in with an idea on what you want to grow, and we’ll help you choose the best container and plants for whatever space you have available!