Container Preparations: New, Rich Soil And Good Drainage Holes

Growing plants in containers is an alternative for those who have no garden space.

container prep-edit

Photo: David Silver (flickr)

Fill containers each season with new, rich growing medium and follow through with regular feedings during the summer.

Most of us, including those who are not space challenged, like to experiment with plants in containers. It is like playing at micro gardening.

The drawback of containers, though, is that as we water them the nutrients in the soil leach out. Therefore, we need to start by filling our pots each season with a rich growing medium and follow through with regular feedings during the summer.

Slow-release granules are often used for this purpose.  Also some gardeners say it is good to mix a little compost with the potting soil to aid water retention and to put a layer of bark chip mulch on the surface of each pot to lessen evaporation of moisture.

Water-retaining granules can also be added to the upper third of the soil mixture in the pot. Always make sure that pots have good drainage holes, as if a pot has no holes or clogged holes, the plants will rot, and the soil will start to smell unpleasant. To prevent the holes becoming clogged, many gardeners use pieces of old clay pots or styrofoam peanuts, which are not as heavy when the pots need to be moved around to follow the sun.

However, another solution is to recycle old pantyhose by putting them over the drainage holes or lining the bottom of the pot with about 10 layers of newspaper. This retains moisture and soil while the water drains.

The smaller the pots the more frequently they must be watered as small amounts of soil dry out quickly. Especially in hot weather, most containers outdoors need daily watering.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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