Containers for Gardening

Share

Be choosy and creative in selecting your containers. First, each container should complement the plant aesthetically and functionally. For example, if you decide to grow strawberries, consider purchasing a terra-cotta planter that comes with special holes through which you can cultivate your fruit or herbs. And your small lilies may feel overwhelmed in a two-foot container, but your tiny bonsai will need taller, roomy holders. Our following section provides more details about types of containers.

Keep in mind that the size, material and shape of the container should be conducive to your plant’s health as well as to your surroundings. Experiment with your holders—buy some terra cotta and plastic pots just to get a sense of your preference. You may discover that blue glazed pots look better on your whitewashed deck than do wooden troughs.

  • Grow Poles (in the image above) are an outstanding way to grow large amounts of vegetables or flowers in a very small space.
  • Hanging baskets, often made of wood or wire, spotlight your petunias or geranium flowers. You should be careful that your indoor hanging pots don’t drizzle onto your lovely oak dining table, however. They should hold plants that won’t grow too heavy for the stand. Wrought-iron or other unusual stands can add appeal to your home, while also minimizing wood rot and insect havens.
  • Window boxes are usually made of wood or plastic and are particularly attractive if you live in a high rise apartment with lots of windows.
  • Raised beds are usually built into gardens or up against the side of a house or apartment. If these beds are built or placed against your home, then your roof can provide shade for plants, especially in sunny, warm regions. If you install your own raised bed, which can be designed in round, kidney or square shapes, plan the design so that it correlates with your landscape. However, plants in raised beds may not thrive in shady areas or too closely to tree roots.
  • If you like wooden troughs or baskets, make sure that your wood is of a solid quality. You’ll want to also finish the wood with a plant-proof preserver. If you use barrels, make sure that the hoops are secure. Wood containers fare well in colder weather and also provide more insulation than do terra cotta pots.
  • Your plants roots need to breathe, so they like terra cotta pots, which also hold warmth. However, if your cats, dogs or children romp through your house wildly or if you live in a cold climate where soil may freeze and expand, your terra cotta containers may not last.
  • Glazed clay pots aren’t as porous as terra cotta, though you can choose glazed colors that match your decor. These pots are traditionally used in Japanese gardens.
  • Stone containers add a natural effect to your house or garden, but are often difficult to move. They also can break fairly easily.
  • Plastic pots often resemble terra cotta containers and can be moved or cleaned more easily than terra cotta. However, plastic doesn’t allow your plants to breathe freely.
  • Sunken containers work well especially for plants like mint that spread easily. You can either bury the whole container in your garden or embed the rim to restrain the plant.
  • Don’t forget those eclectic containers like wire baskets, old-fashioned metal bathtubs and rickety wheelbarrows. They make great holders, too.
  • And no matter what type of containers you purchase, you’ll need some fail-proof saucers to capture that loose soil and dripping water that escapes from the bottom of any container. Although plastic saucers may not match your glazed pots, they don’t get damp as do terra cotta ones.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Patterson May 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

What containers are safe in regard to leaching; are there paints that woun’t leach and that can be used on containers

Reply

lars May 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm

@Carolyn Patterson,

As long as you are painting the outside of the container and not the inside, I don’t see how it would matter much. It would be one thing if the paint was lead based, but there’s no such thing as lead paint anymore, so I think you would be safe to paint the outside of your containers.

But if you really want to go safe and nontoxic, try something like milk paint.

http://www.milkpaint.com/

Reply

Suzy November 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I am a beginner, and want to start a garden in planter boxes. BUT, I have the same concern about the chemicals that are in the treated wood… what is the safest material to use for planter boxes?

I know all of the wood in the U.S. is treated…

Any ideas?

Reply

lars January 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

Just get plain cedar. Most cedar is untreated, or just has a simple coat of polyurethane.

Reply

Leave a Comment