- Keeping Outdoor Potted Plants from Tipping Over or Falling Down when It’s Windy
- How to Keep Outdoor Potted Plants From Falling Over When It’s Windy
- Successful Container Gardens
- Making Herb and Vegetable Containers
- Types of Containers
- Container Gardening Guide
- Select the Right Container
- Use Enriched Potting Soil
- Monitor Soil Moisture
- Don’t Forget the Sunlight
- Embrace Aesthetics
- Plants for Container Gardens
- Container Gardening With Vegetables and Herbs
- Double Buckets and Other Self-Watering Containers
- Potting Soil for Container-Grown Vegetables
- Container Garden Fertilizer Two Ways
- Container-Scaping With Edible Plants
- Watch Your Back When Container Gardening
- Top Crops for Container Gardening
- Outdoor Pots
- Complement your outdoor area with beautiful outdoor garden pots
- Quick Guide To: Pots, Planters and Containers
- There are endless pot and planting possibilities!
Keeping Outdoor Potted Plants from Tipping Over or Falling Down when It’s Windy
Outdoor potted plants are exposed to the elements of nature in a way that indoor plants aren’t. They withstand the sun and shade in full force or somewhere between the intensity of heat and cool.
If lucky, they get to sit in spots where they receive rain as it falls. If unlucky, they get to feel the brunt of wind whipping through leaves and snapping off limbs.
Windy conditions can knock a planted pot over. At times the plant may be completely thrown out of its pot the instant it hits the ground with roots still entangled in the dirt. Other times the pot may simply tip over with the plant lying on its side.
How to Keep Outdoor Potted Plants From Falling Over When It’s Windy
What can be done to help keep outside potted plants from being completely at the mercy of the wind? How can the potted plants become more stable in an upright position for added protection against falling over or crashing to the ground when the wind blows?
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- Container Gardening for the Fall Season: Potted Plants Fall Garden Ideas
- 5 Budget-Friendly Gardening Tips
- Tips to Choose a Reputable Plant Nursery and to Buy Plants
- 10 Container Gardening Tips: Creating a Garden in a Pot
- How to Care for Potted Plants
Sit outside potted plants up next to the house instead of sitting them in the open or even better sit them under the porch and avoid sitting them in tiers or on ledges. Also don’t sit them next to the edge of the porch or on steps or anything where they can easily fall off.
If you have room in the garage you can temporarily sit plants there when strong winds began to blow. Sitting plants up close to the house or under the porch will help to block wind from hitting them as bad and gives them partial protection.
Make sure that the plants are not half full or less of dirt. Make sure the roots are completely covered and keep the pot as full of dirt as possible without burying the leaves of the plant. Why? Pots should have at least one hole in the center of the bottom or several holes around the sides of the bottom to help protect the plant from drowning or root rotting because of too much water.
Because of these holes dirt can escape out the bottom of the pot every time the plant is watered. Loss of dirt can make the pot lighter causing it to become more top heavy with the weight of the plant. This makes it easier for the plant to tip or fall over when the wind blows.
Another way to add weight to the pot is by using marbles or those glass rocks/stones that are round and have a flat bottom. The glass rocks/stones are usually found in the arts & crafts section in stores and they can be used in fish bowls. They also come in beautiful colors.
Take the marbles or glass rocks/stones and sit them on top of the dirt inside the pot where they are touching its edge and lay them all around the side in a complete circle. You can make a second or third circle following the path of the first by sitting the second and third marbles or glass rocks/stones beside the first and going all the way around the inside of the pot.
This will add a touch of beauty and color to the pot that can be seen when viewed from above if the plant is small. If you have a larger plant with lots of leaves you may not be able to see anything.
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Successful Container Gardens
Making Herb and Vegetable Containers
Types of Containers
There are several types of containers that can be used for growing vegetables including polyethylene plastic bags, clay pots, plastic pots, metallic pots, milk jugs, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and planter boxes. It is important to use containers that can accommodate roots of the vegetables you want to grow as the vegetables vary in sizes and rooting depths. The container needs to have good drainage, and should not contain chemicals that are toxic to plants and human beings. Most vegetables grown in backyard gardens can be grown in containers, although a container’s diameter and depth need to be considered when selecting what vegetables to grow. The plant density (number of vegetable plants per container) depends on individual plant space requirements, and rooting depth.
More Information on Making Herb and Vegetable Container Gardens
- Types of Containers
- Growing Media – Potting Mix or Soil
- Fertilizer Application
- Insect Pests and Disease Management
- Vegetable Varieties Suitable for Containers
- Growing Herbs in Containers
- Getting Started
Container Gardening Guide
What can you plant in a container? The better question might be, what can’t you? Vegetables, flowers, herbs—almost any plant can thrive in a container as long as it has the proper soil and care. Whether you lack enough land, live in an urban area, or just don’t have the time or energy to tend an outdoor plot, container gardening provides a viable alternative for you to grow your own food and a beautiful garden.
Select the Right Container
Containers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and composition, from sturdy terra-cotta cauldrons and eye-catching ceramic pots to half-barrels crafted from wood. Select the style that suits you best, but make sure the container has at least one hole in the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Also pay attention to your priorities when you’re considering container size—large containers allow you to grow a greater variety of plants, while smaller ones promote portability.
Use Enriched Potting Soil
Plants in containers need soil that allows roots to grow easily—it should be fast-draining yet moisture-retentive. Quick drainage helps ensure plant roots won’t rot in too-soggy soil, while good moisture retention decreases the amount of time you’ll spend watering in the first place. Organic potting soil mixed with a healthy amount of compost is ideal; the compost will add nutrients your plants need to flourish.
Monitor Soil Moisture
Striking the right balance between moisture and drainage is key for plants in pots. Because they have a fixed amount of soil from which to draw moisture, container-grown plants require more frequent watering than those grown in the ground. But over-watering can also pose a danger to potted plants. What’s a good rule of thumb for assessing if your plants are thirsty? If the top inch or two of soil feels dry, give them a drink. (Remember, plants in indirect light or shade retain water longer than plants located in full sun.)
Don’t Forget the Sunlight
Just like plants in the ground, plants in containers need sunlight in order to thrive. Unlike plants in the ground, it’s easier to address those sunlight needs because potted plants are portable. If your plants aren’t getting adequate light, just move them to an area that offers them the sun they need.
Container gardens aren’t all about growing your own food, though that’s certainly a big benefit. Placed strategically, plants can add visual pizzazz to a patio, porch, deck, or even an indoor spot (sunlight permitting). Mix plant colors, textures, and heights to achieve optimal beauty in your pots—just make sure your containers are big enough to hold what you’re planting. To keep flowering plants looking good, pinch off spent blooms.
Plants for Container Gardens
Interested in starting (or perhaps expanding) your container garden? Try these open-pollinated varieties from Seed Savers Exchange that do well (and look great) in pots. And don’t miss our Container Garden Collection—a curated selection of varieties, perfect for container gardening, all in one package!
Plant containers come in a wide variety of prices, sizes, colors, shapes and materials. Each specific container has advantages and disadvantages of its own.
Here is a breakdown of the different materials planters can be made from in order to make it easier for you to make the best choice for your needs.
Where you want to keep the potted plant, your climate, aesthetic value, and ease of maintenance and cost are all factors you need to consider before you make a decision.
Pressed paper containers are a great choice when dealing with vegetables. These containers breathe well, promoting healthy root growth and improving aeration, as well as insulating the roots from temperature changes that might otherwise harm or stress your plants.
These planters are biodegradable, which is great for the environment but means that you will need to replace them every single year.
Since the cost of these is low, usually around two dollars per pot, the pots are still an economically sound choice. Some pressed paper pots are now being lined with a wax coating, which gives them a slightly longer life span.
Coir containers are economically and ecologically sound choices. These planters are made from coconut husks and are studier than the pressed paper pots, but still keep the benefits for the paper pots.
Other types are made from grain husks and various binding agents rather than coconut husks. These pots are inexpensive and can be found in a wide variety of colors and shapes, up to around a foot in diameter.
Akro Mils CRN12000COC Coir Nursery Pot, 12-Inch available from Amazon
Ceramic containers, or stoneware, are made from finely textured, light-colored clay and then glazed. These containers are fired at a high kiln temperature, which reduces the pot’s porousness and vulnerability to the elements. However, if a ceramic pot is left out in the cold weather it can still crack.
Gifts & Decor Jewel Tone Flower Pot Trio Embossed Earthenware Planter available from Amazon
The down side to this durability is that the potss are quite heavy, although this factor makes them a good choice for plants that will grow to be top heavy. Ceramic planters also tend to be expensive, but are available in a wide variety of color glazes and designs.
They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with large bowls being among the most common.
Terracotta is a type of clay that is commonly used in making pots and planters of various sizes and shapes. Terracotta pots can be as small as two inches in diameter or height, and as large as the creator’s imagination.
The shapes and sizes of containers from this material are seemingly endless, so they are quite versatile. It is typically a warm reddish brown color and offers an earthy appeal to gardeners.
Terracotta also tends to be readily available and affordable, which makes it a popular choice among gardeners for indoor and outdoor use.
DEROMA Terra Cotta Clay Pots available from Amazon
Two aspects of terracotta that you need to be aware of is that it is more fragile than some of the other planting options, and that terracotta is generally sold unglazed and is therefore permeable.
This means that the pot can lose moisture, and soak in moisture from the outside. If you find that you cannot keep up with the water needs of a plant that is otherwise thriving in terracotta container, then I suggest lining the interior of the pot with a graze or some plastic to limit the amount of water that escapes through the pot.
Remember to leave some drainage holes in the plastic if you do chose to line a pot, or you will encounter a new set of water related woes.
If you live in an area with very cold winters, it is important to store any terracotta pots upside-down and indoors to prevent early destruction from the elements.
Fiberglass and Resin
Fiberglass planters are created from a blend of resin and glass fibers. These pots tend to be molded to look like terracotta or stone pots. Actually, some manufacturers have added some limestone of clay to the resin blend to create a better texture.
While this choice might not be the most ecologically friendly, it does have quite a few advantages.
DMC Products 24-Inch Square Resin Wicker Vista Planter at Amazon
Fiberglass planters are lightweight, durable, and look very much like the materials they are molded to imitate. These containers do not need any special storage; they can handle any expected weather without having to be taken indoors.
Plastic containers can also be made to look like other materials, but is less realistic and durable that the fiberglass planters.
Most plants that you purchase in a store or at a nursery will go home with you in a plastic container; this is because it is the cheapest container for commercial growers to use.
Thicker versions of plastic planters can be made to look like stoneware or terracotta pots, but they do not have the heft of the real thing. Plastic planters can come in an endless number of sizes and shapes.
Fiskars 18 Inch Veranda Square Planter Box, Color Cement (57718)
Wooden planters can look great in just about any outdoor or patio setting. These containers tend to be square or rectangle, although there are some curved containers available as well.
Wood is not likely to crack in cold weather, and is slow to dry out. The only real danger with wood containers is rot; therefore, I suggest lining a wooden planter with plastic to prevent this problem. Just remember to leave some holes in the plastic for drainage.
Antique Revival Wooden Half-Barrel Planter available from Amazon
Metal containers are extremely durable, and in the case of case iron, extremely heavy. Metals such as aluminum can offer gardeners the durability of metal with a lighter weight, making the planting and moving of pots much more practical.
Aluminum does not rust, does not need painting and costs less than some other metal options. Other metal choices include copper-coated stainless steel, zinc, lead, and copper.
Novelty Round Moonstone Planter – available in various colors and sizes from Amazon
Concrete planters can look great, especially once they have aged a little. While concrete is the practical choice for large plants that might need the ballast support against the wind because of its sheer weight, that weight also makes the planter difficult to move.
Succulents in an 18″ Grey Rectangular Handmade Concrete Planter Modern Minimalist Zen Centerpiece Dish Garden Vessel Planter
Therefore, if you plan to use concrete containers for anything, make sure you know where you want it and do not plan to move it.
On the other hand, no one will ever steal it or play a prank and move it. Concrete is a reliable insulator and will protect the roots even during times of large temperature changes.
What qualities do you look for in a garden planter? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t miss our guide to the best containers for succulents.
Container Gardening With Vegetables and Herbs
Then there’s the convenience factor. Although my vegetable garden is right in my backyard, I want containers of sweet peppers, parsley, cherry tomatoes and basil within steps of my kitchen door. If you live in an apartment or condo with no yard, you can still have a summer’s worth of veggies right at your fingertips.
One big difference between in-ground and container-grown vegetables is root temperature. In summer, warm daytime temperatures will cause plant roots in containers to warm up by 15 degrees Fahrenheit or more (this never happens 4 inches below ground). And dark containers accumulate solar heat, which intensifies this effect. Warm roots can be your enemy or your friend, depending on the season and the crop. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and okra love warm roots, while onions and celery (a surprisingly successful container plant) need cooler feet. You can’t control the weather, but you can minimize soil temperature swings by using the largest containers possible and choosing light-colored containers when appropriate.
The plants discussed here are easy to grow in containers in most climates, but many other vegetables make challenging container crops. If you’re a new gardener, stick with the container-grown vegetables listed at the end of this article to build on your skills. Remember, plants grown in containers will be totally dependent on you for water, feeding and adequate accommodations for their roots. By midsummer, herbs and vegetables in containers may need water twice a day and liquid fertilizer twice a week. Think of container gardening as an intensive form of the food gardener’s art.
Double Buckets and Other Self-Watering Containers
Any pot or planter with a drainage hole in the bottom can be used to grow vegetables. Bigger is better, because large containers will hold more soil, roots and water, which will help the plants produce a larger and healthier crop. Your containers need not be fancy. Two of the most popular pots for vegetables are plastic buckets and storage bins, refashioned into self-watering containers. Note that though they’re commonly called “self-watering” containers, you still have to provide the water. However, thanks to a water reservoir area under the soil, these planters can hold a lot more water than regular planters. The plants’ roots grow down and tap the reservoir as needed.
One of the simplest self-watering containers, the double bucket, consists of one bucket or 5-gallon pail nested inside another. The bottom bucket is watertight except for a drainage hole drilled in its side at just below the bottom of the top bucket, when they are nested together. Several roomy drainage holes are made in the bottom of the top bucket, which serves as the planter. Roots eventually grow through these holes and into the reservoir in the bottom bucket. The reservoir will reduce watering chores by about half and give your plants an important safety margin on hot, dry days.
You can turn a single plastic storage bin into a roomy self-watering container by trimming the lid until it fits down inside the bin, about 2 inches from the bottom. Use lightweight spacers, such as empty soup cans, to keep this floor (with drainage holes poked in it) from collapsing when the bin becomes heavy with soil and roots. Add a side hole so you can check the water level in the reservoir and fill as needed. Resourceful gardeners will find endless container possibilities for growing veggies, from leaky washtubs to retired wheelbarrows. Even old bushelbaskets can be useful for potatoes, which like a bit of air around their roots.
The depth of the container should be matched to the crop you want to grow. Wooden drawers with drainage holes drilled in the bottom are fine for growing shallow-rooted lettuce, bok choy and other leafy greens. In spring and fall, some gardeners put up “salad tables” — shallow, wooden planting boxes set on sawhorses that can be moved around as needed to dodge changes in the weather. Plants with deeper roots, such as tomatoes and celery, need roomier accommodations in self-watering 5-gallon pails or storage bins. A container that’s too small will restrict root growth so much that the plant will dwarf itself in an attempt to survive.
Potting Soil for Container-Grown Vegetables
Any container is only as good as what you put into it. Vegetables grown in the ground live in soil made up of at least 50 percent mineral particles, but container culture calls for a much lighter mix that will hold moisture well. Two inert substances made from expanded rock — vermiculite and perlite — help give container mixes a light texture and greatly enhance the way the mixture handles water. The first time you fill your planting containers, use a packaged potting soil that contains an abundance of either material or some of both. This is a one-time investment.
At the end of the season, you can recover much of the potting mix by dumping your containers onto a tarp or into a wheelbarrow, pulling out clumps of roots, and returning the used soil to a garbage can where it can be stored until spring. Before using it for replanting, mix in about 1 part cured compost to 3 parts used potting soil and add a dose of starter fertilizer (keep reading), and you will be ready to go for another season.
You can make excellent potting soil without perlite or vermiculite, but you will need a quantity of composted sawdust or chipped bark instead. If rotted until black, either material makes a wonderful growing medium with excellent structure. Two parts rotted sawdust or chipped bark to 1 part compost usually makes a good container mix. If you’re committed to growing container veggies, set aside a spot for these materials to decay so you can start making your own potting soil in the future.
Container Garden Fertilizer Two Ways
Container-grown vegetables are best fed by mixing compost and a balanced organic fertilizer into the potting mix each time you replant, followed by a liquid fertilizer regimen when roots have begun to fill the container. Most name-brand potting soils already contain starter fertilizer, and organic potting soils have nutrients from the compost used to make them, so you don’t usually need to mix in dry fertilizer the first year. Thereafter, you can buy organic fertilizer or make your own (see A Better Way to Fertilize Your Garden: Homemade Organic Fertilizer). In terms of how much to use, a half-filled medium-sized wheelbarrow contains about 40 quarts of soil, which is a suitable amount for 1 cup of most blended organic fertilizers. In his book The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible, Edward Smith recommends the following organic fertilizer mix:
1/3 cup blood meal (for nitrogen)
1/3 cup colloidal phosphate (for phosphorus)
1/3 cup greensand (for potassium and trace elements)
Even if you use the greatest potting soil in the world, amended with excellent fertilizer, after a month or so you should start feeding your plants with liquid fertilizers. Fish emulsion/kelp mixtures are popular among organic gardeners, or you can make your own liquid fertilizers (see Free, Homemade Liquid Fertilizers). Whenever a container-grown vegetable looks unhappy, drenching it with a diluted liquid fertilizer is the first remedy to try. From midsummer on, I usually feed my container vegetables every other time I water.
Container-Scaping With Edible Plants
In summer, the edible container garden becomes a fabulous outdoor room. Vigorous pole beans can form vibrant “walls,” while snake gourds rambling over a pergola can create a green ceiling. Vines in general, from snow peas to asparagus beans, are often simple to grow in containers because their needs are easy to understand. Every vine wants “head in the sun, feet in the shade,” so you can please them by simply finding the perfect spot. In the book McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container, authors Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey point out that using broad stakes for twining vines will encourage them to make more lateral growth because they must grow farther to make each lap around the stake. With pole beans, Malabar spinach and other twiners, this little tweak will result in leafier, more productive plants.
Make the most of color by growing plenty of chard and red-tinted varieties of bok choy and basil. The soldierly, upright posture of onions makes them good design plants for container gardens. Be careful when locating plants that bees love — such as borage or scarlet runner beans — close to entryways. Also look for compact varieties, which are an easy way to avoid unnecessary wars with wind. Varieties of snow, snap and shell peas that grow to only about 30 inches tall are much easier to keep trellised in a pot compared with varieties that grow twice as tall.
Watch Your Back When Container Gardening
Over the years, I have heard of more injuries from moving heavy containers than from any other gardening task. Always enlist help when moving plants that are too heavy or bulky to move by yourself, and invest in a light-duty hand truck for moving plants and heavy bags of soil. Outfitted with a wagon for small pots and a hand truck for big ones, you’re ready to keep yourself and your “patio nursery” in good order.
There is an educational aspect to container gardening — plants are seen up close, where few details go unnoticed. Whether you’re watching bees buzz around pepper blossoms or following the spiraling growth of pole beans, every container garden is an inspiring learning lab as well as a source of delicious, super-fresh food.
Top Crops for Container Gardening
• Bok choy
• Snap bean
• Most herbs
Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on Google+.
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When choosing pots for plants … be creative! Try anything from an old boot, to that 16th century Baroque urn you just “had to have.” Just about anything can be used as a pot for plants providing it drains well (roots will rot in soggy soil) and doesn’t get too hot sitting in the sun. If the pot you select doesn’t have enough drainage holes, make sure to drill at least one “good-sized” hole for every gallon of soil used. If you can’t drill or punch holes into a particular planter, you can sometimes work around this, by planting in a separate pot and setting it inside the container you prefer.
When selecting a pot, it’s important to consider the size of the plant — or plants — you will be growing. Yes, size does matter! If the pot is too small, plants will quickly become rootbound and the soil will not be able to hold enough moisture between waterings. Plants that are allowed to dry out, or wilt, will not be productive.
#1 POTTING SOIL
Get your potted crops off to a great start and keep them healthy with premium quality potting soils. Designed to provide root support, moisture retention and healthy nutrients, these organic mixes will give you maximum results.
On the other hand, if the container is too large, your plants may spend all of their energy on root development and not enough on growth. According to the West Virginia University Extension Service, shallow-rooted crops like lettuce, peppers, herbs and most annuals need a planter at least 6 inches in diameter with an 8-inch soil depth. Larger containers, like bushel baskets and 1/2 whiskey barrels, are perfect for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, and most perennials.
Pots and planters are available in many different sizes, shapes, and materials. Whatever type of container you select, consider the area where it will be used and plan accordingly.
Tip: Choose containers in proper proportion to the size of the plant. A container that is about one-third as tall as the plant (measured from the soil line to the highest leaf) often works best.
Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, terra-cotta pots look great just about anywhere and their earthy color will enhance the beauty of almost any plant. Made of a porous clay rich in iron, terra cotta has the ability to “breathe,” which keeps potting soils cool and wicks excess moisture away from plant roots, keeping them healthy. The main problem with using terra cotta, is that it is relatively fragile (watch for hard frosts that can crack containers) and it can dry out quite rapidly, especially in sunny locations.
Note: Some growers prefer glazed terra-cotta pots because they hold water much more effectively.
If you’re not concerned about container appearance or have plants that eventually grow to cover the pots they are planted in, plastic is a great choice. Plastic nursery pots are durable, retain moisture well, and are relatively inexpensive. They are also very lightweight, which makes them an excellent choice if you like to re-arrange your gardens.
Do not use black, or dark colored plastic pots if your container garden will be located in a very sunny location. These colors absorb heat and will get very hot, which can damage tender roots. Light colored containers reflect the heat and keep the roots cool.
One thing about concrete – it’s heavy! Which makes it ideal for containing large plants or trees that require more support to keep them…well, “contained.” It also has good insulating properties, protecting tender root systems by maintaining a comfortable soil environment. When planting in exposed or public areas, concrete has the added advantage of discouraging anyone from “accidentally” walking off with your prized plants or pots. Concrete planters can be left outside over the winter without harm, which is good since you’re probably not going to want to move them.
One of the most practical and natural containers for gardening. Wood planters look great, retain water well and are relatively lightweight. When selecting wooden containers, make sure that they are made with rot-resistant woods like cedar or redwood and check for quality construction, since wood will shrink and expand in the elements. Planters made out of pine or other soft-woods can also be used, but should be painted with a non-toxic paint or stain to prevent rot. As for expense, you can easily manufacture a wooden planter in no time with a few nails, some scrap wood and a creative idea.
Quick Guide To: Pots, Planters and Containers
There are endless pot and planting possibilities!
Of course pots and containers are not just for ornamental use – they play a big part in the greenhouse and potting shed too. The humble garden pot provides a home for new plants and seedlings while they concentrate on growing. And there’s always a bigger container waiting for plants that outgrow their pot.
But with so much choice, how do you choose the right containers? The size will depend on what plant(s) you want to put in them, and the style depends on your garden look and feel.
Traditional terracotta pots work in any garden and type of plant.
For a sleek, contemporary style, try zinc or stainless steel planters.
Combine pots in bright shades with colourful flowers for a striking effect.
Wooden planters will weather beautifully and create a rustic feel.
Glazed or painted pots allow you to create a colour scheme in the garden.
Stone or concrete tubs provide an authentic permanent feature, especially if they are similar to other stone in the house or garden.
Plastic pots can be made to look like weathered stone, pewter or clay to great effect without the high price tag.
For more adventurous containers, check out my Unusual Container Planting Challenge at the Ideal Home Show!