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Common Container Gardening Mistakes

Posted by Krishna Karthik on

Whatever your lifestyle or personality you can make potted gardens that will give you joy and bring beauty to your surroundings. Have fun and experiment.

  • Select the correct location for a large pot - Ever tried to lift a large potted garden filled with dirt and plants? It can be overwhelmingly heavy. When using a large or unwieldy container make sure to place your pot where it will live and then fill it - you'll save your back!
  • Avoid Over Watering Your Plants - To avoid over-watering your potted gardens, use pots that have drainage holes - lots of them. Also, make sure to read the moisture requirements for your plants and then follow them. Before you water, check if your potting mix is moist. To do this put your index finger into the soil up to your second knuckle. If the soil at your fingertip feels dry, water your plant.
  • If you do over-water, leaves may turn yellow and fall off, or your plants may get limp. If your potting mix is too wet, move the container to a dry, breezy spot until it dries out. If you have the room, you can also move your potted garden into a garage or sheltered spot to dry it out, particularly if the weather is continuing to be wet.
  • Avoid Under-water- Most potted gardens need watering at least once a day in the heat of the summer. Many, especially hanging planters or small containers, need watering even more often because there is less potting mix to hold moisture. When you water, make sure to really soak your plants - if you just give them a sip, the water will only wet the top layer of potting mix. Water until you see it coming out of the bottom of your pot.
  • If your plants do dry out, don't despair; even the most pathetic, limp, plant might revive with a good drink. If the container is small enough, submerge the whole thing in a bucket of water until the air bubbles subside. For a large container take a skewer or stick and gently poke holes deep into the soil to allow water to reach the roots. Then water generously.
  • Awkward plant to pot ratio - Make sure to consider the proportions of your plants to your container. A large container stuffed with short plants can look stunted. If you need a rule of thumb (and remember that rules are meant to be broken) try to have at least one plant that is as tall as the container. Also try plants that will spill over the sides.
  • Never buy weak or sickly potting mixes and/or plants - Always buy reputable potting mixes such as "MahaGro all purpose premium potting mix" which is specially formulated for this purpose. Similarly plants at a reputable local nursery are a good place to start in your quest for healthy plants. You have a greater chance of getting plants that are disease and pest free and well cared for than at a big box store. At a nursery, you can often get a wealth of information and advice from knowledgeable staff. Don't be afraid to ask someone to help you pick out a good plant.
  • If you can't resist the prices of buying plants from a big box store (and occasionally, who can't?), try to buy them on or close to the day they're delivered. Don't be shy to ask someone who works there which day new plant stock arrives. Delivery is usually the same day every week.
  • Fear of pruning - When your potted gardens start looking leggy or ragged, don't be afraid to cut them back. You may want to put them in an out-of-the-way spot until they re-bound, but chances are they'll come back healthier and happier with a good haircut.
  • Beware of bad neighbors - Make sure that all the plants in your potted garden share the same sun, soil and water requirements. You can find out this information from your seed packets or plant labels.
  • Starving your plants - Unlike "MahaGro all purpose premium potting mix with organic fertilizer" other potting mixes have very few of the nutrients that plants require to grow and be healthy so you will need to add those nutrients to the soil. There are many fertilizers to choose from and flowering plants have different needs than vegetables and herbs.
  • Have realistic expectations - Before you make your container gardens, evaluate how you live. Do you travel a lot during the summer? If so, either get self-watering containers, an automatic drip irrigation system, enlist some help to keep your plants healthy and alive while you're gone or get plants that don't need a lot of water.
  • Garden the way you live. Are you casual or formal? Feel free to take a loosey-goosey approach to gardening if it fits well with your personality. Some people like big overflowing containers with riotous colors and luxuriant blossoms. Some people like neat, well-planned, formal containers. Almost all grow vegetables and herbs galore because all like how they taste and the experience delights and fascinates everyone.

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