In the Garden Blog
Cincinnati's Garden Blog
Spring Container Gardening Tips
Spring means spring container gardening. I like to say, if it grows in the ground it will grow in a container. This week making Cincinnati gardening simple, we are answering your spring container gardening questions.
“Where do I start with Spring container gardening?”
It’s simple. Click here for our tips.
“When should I bring the planters that have been overwintering inside back outside?”
Right away! You want to keep them there over the winter to protect the plants in the pots. Now, bring them back outside to begin re-growing as if they had been planted in the ground.
“What will reduce the watering of my container garden?”
There are a couple of things you can use:
- “Soil Moist” is a lifesaver for spring container gardening. The small polymers (mixed into the potting soil) absorb water and swell up to 20 times or more their original size. When the soil dries out, they release water back into the soil which helps cut down on your watering. I like to mix it into the bottom 4/5 of the potting soil, and then add the rest of the potting soil without it. That keeps it lower into the soil and gets plants to root deeper. Please read the label before using it. Note: You can add this to existing planters by taking a pencil, poking it down into the soil, and creating several cores. Then sprinkle in a few Soil Moist crystals, and fill back in.
- Coir (coconut coir) to your potting mix. It has excellent moisture-holding abilities as well. You’ll find it showing up in many potting mixes today, like our ‘Waterhold’ mix.
“Can I use foam packing peanuts in my container gardens?”
Yes, as long as the water still drains out of the pot! That’s perfect for those deeper pots where deep soil is not needed. I usually suggest placing them in plastic ziplock bags first, then in the pot. Less mess that way, especially when you go to empty the container. Also, consider using chunk bark mulch, pine bark, crushed aluminum cans, 2-liter bottles, etc as fillers.
“What Basil grows well in containers?”
All basils are excellent for container gardening! It’s amazing how often I see gardeners growing mass amounts of basil in those pickle-buckets or large pots, placed in the garden, patio, or wherever they can set them in sunlight. I recommend the Green Bouquet, although there are several ‘dwarf’ basils available. These plants only get 15-18 inches high, small leaves so you don’t have to do a lot of chopping, and the flavor is unreal! Power-packed flavor in a tiny leaf.
How many basils does Natorp’s grow? Click Here to See Our Collection.
“Should I use Fertilome Potting Soil and then the Water-holding Potting Soil?
Good question! The Fertilome potting soil is an excellent all-purpose potting soil. Absolutely great! The Water holding is as well, but the difference is that it has additional amendments which actually help to hold moisture in the soil/ This allows less watering. You have to get used to it, as you can over water a container. But I personally like it, especially when you have a lot of containers or window boxes that dry out quickly.
“What edibles are good for kids container gardening?”
Container gardening is a great way to get kids involved with gardening. Greens such as spinach and lettuce, as well as radishes and carrots, are easy to grow. Herbs are really easy to grow. And look at ever-bearing strawberries. You can grow them in hanging baskets or regular pots, and they will flower and fruit all summer. Potatoes in a container, patio tomatoes, cucumbers, all the greens.
“What berries would you recommend for containers?”.
DO I HAVE SUGGESTIONS? My theory is if it grows in the ground, chances are you can grow it in a pot as well. And that applies to fruits and berries. With the increase in container gardening interest as well as seeing smaller gardens, plant breeders are developing more and more ‘edibles’ that naturally stay smaller and easy to grow in pots or take up less room in the garden. Just as an example, ‘TopHat’ and ‘Brazelberry Series of blueberries are dwarf, self-fruiting, and generally stay under 3-4 feet tall. Very hardy and easy to grow in containers. ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ is a new dwarf thornless red raspberry, again perfect for containers. Also look at the figs in containers, both Zone 6 hardy selections like ‘Chicago Hardy’, and Zone 8 varieties (not hardy here) like ‘LSU Fig’ which can be overwintered in an unheated shed and grown outdoors in the summer. Pomegranates, citrus, dwarf fruit trees (Urban Apples) – these are all possibilities for container gardening!
“What plants can I plant in a shade container garden?”
Two of my favorite annuals will work for you. Look at the many different coleus selections, as well as the wonderful heart-shaped colorful leaves of the caladiums. Don’t forget shade perennials. Hostas are great colorful plants for containers in the shade!
Can you grow horseradish in a container?”
YES! I love this plant in a large pot! Try 18 inches or larger (deep) pot and give it two years to fill up the pot with roots ready to be hosed off and made into horseradish. Simple, easy to grow, easy to harvest, and it looks great! Love growing horseradish in pots!
“What do you use to feed your tomatoes and peppers in containers?”
Couple things to remember here; use a large container for most all tomatoes and peppers / use a good-grade potting mix / add Soil Moist to help cut down on the watering / and add Osmocote for a slow-release feeding that lasts all season. If you have some gypsum, add a little for calcium. Use Espoma’s TomatoTone on top – all-natural feeding, extended feeding, and adds calcium (calcium to help prevent blossom end rot). If the plants seem like they need a little feeding in the season, I’ll give them a shot of Miracle-Gro. Water-soluble fertilizers are quick-release, quick-feed, but short-lived. By the way, if you have blossom end rot problems, you can also add Calcium Nitrate to the soil. Works great (along with keeping good even moisture in the soil!).
“Can you put perennials in a container like an annual?”
It depends on the hardiness of the perennial, size of the pot, location, etc, but yes, many can overwinter in containers. I usually suggest bringing them into an unheated garage or shed for the winter, and then back outdoors. Or bunching the pots together (outdoors) and mulching around them. Or take the perennials out in October and plant them in the garden. And yes, some gardeners will merely use them as an annual in containers and pitch them at the end of the season. But with so many great flowers, beautiful foliage colors, and textures, perennials are great additions to containers…or simply all perennials in pots. I love growing Hostas in large containers for those shadier patios – Coral bells for great foliage colors – it’s endless!
Have a question? Ask our container garden experts!