Container Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

It’s officially container garden season, meaning there’s plenty of opportunities to grow plants!

Whether you’re a complete newbie to pot plants or want a refresher on growing them in containers, follow our top tips to avoid making simple mistakes.

Avoid using the wrong sized containers

Small containers are perfect for small indoor plants, however, they’re not the best option for the outdoors. But why is this the case? When your plants are exposed to wind and sunlight, small containers dry out extremely quickly.

To ensure your plants thrive, it’s better to opt for large containers that measure 12 inches or more. These not only hold a larger quantity of soil, but they also won’t dry out as fast. This is particularly apparent when planting hanging baskets in exposed sun-drenched locations.

If you can, always transplant a smaller hanging basket into a larger container spanning between 14-16 inches.

Avoid using containers without drainage holes

Just as it’s important to pick the correct size container, it’s vital to choose vessels with good drainage holes. This will avoid containers from becoming saturated and is one of the most important considerations when growing container gardens.

If your plants become saturated, they can easily rot. If the pots you have don’t feature drainage holes, you can easily drill a handful of vents into the base using a masonry, tile, or glass drill bit.

Avoid using garden soil

It may be tempting to fill pots with garden soil, especially if you have plenty to hand, however, this won’t do your potted plants any favours. It’s imperative to fill your container gardens with the correct potting soil.

This soil weighs much less, drains freely and despite what the label suggests, actually contains zero soil. Instead, it boasts a combination of perlite, peat moss, and bark, all of which provide good airflow, nutrients, and drainage to your potted plants.

Avoid using filler material to fill the base of large containers

Instead of using rocks, shards and anything you have to hand to fill the bottom of your containers, use more potting soil! Plants necessitate soil to thrive, and irrespective of the size of the pot, you should use soil (and nothing else) to fill it. Random objects placed at the base of the container will cause water to pool, inhibiting good drainage.

This not only makes the pot much heavier than it needs to be, but it can also result in rotting roots. For best results, use a potting soil mix that is good quality, lightweight, and drains well.

Avoid placing plants with different needs alongside one and other

Even if they look good together, placing plants that necessitate different lighting and temperatures, isn’t a good idea and can cause healthy plants to dwindle.

Be mindful that every species grown in one container is going to receive the same water and sunlight, which is why it’s imperative to pair plants with similar cultural necessities.

Begin by choosing shrubs whose sunlight requirements match the amount of sunlight you have available in your chosen location. For example, if your balcony or patio faces south, and boasts little shade for the majority of the day, choose pot plants that can withstand large amounts of sunlight.

From researching plants online to reading the labels, it’s important to investigate the many species of potted plants available before investing in them.

Avoid placing plants together with varying grow rates

Similar to light and water needs, avoid placing plants with different growth rates in the same pot. One will quickly overtake the other, leaving your container garden looking unbalanced.

Bigger plants may also kill off smaller variants, by stealing their nutrients or suffocating their growth. This is when learning more about the needs and growth rates of various species comes in handy, but it also comes with practice.

Irrespective of how healthy your potted plants are, they will all grow at a slightly different speed, with some growing up to an inch per day, while others are more restrained.

Knowing more about the growth rate will also help you to pick the correct sized pot. If you’re a complete newbie, instead of creating a variance in your container garden with different plants, choose the same plant but in varying hues.

Avoid over or under watering your plants

It can take time to learn about your plant’s watering needs, with sunlight, wind and the size of your container garden all playing a part in how little or much they like to be watered. Hanging baskets in a sun-lit position will require a lot more water than larger pots positioned on shaded decks.

A top tip? If soil is dry to the touch, your plant is likely to be thirsty! The likes of a drip irrigation system can help to ensure you water your container gardens consistently.

Avoid watering your plants’ foliage only

Using a watering can or hose over your potted plants will water the foliage rather than the roots. Asides from causing foliage diseases, this method will make your shrubs extremely thirsty. For best results, move the leaves or flowers gently to the side, and be sure to water the soil.

Dont skip the fertiliser!

To bloom as they should, both flowers and shrubs require food, which in the plant world, comes in the shape of good quality fertilizer. When you first plant your plants, up to their nutrient levels by adding a continuous release of plant food to the potting soil.

That will help to slowly and efficiently feed the roots over time. In addition to this, on each third watering, look to feed plants with water-soluble plant food, as this encourages more flowers to bloom and grow.

Keep a close eye on your plants

Whether you’re an amateur or a pro gardener, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your container plants. This will ensure optimal plant health and will help you to learn more about the various pot species available, particularly in terms of which work well together.

If one plant seems to be thriving more than another, switch it to another pot or place it in an alternative location to see what difference it makes.



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Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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