Tips on Filling Containers With Garden Soils
Planting in containers allows you to work your green thumb in small spaces, such as a condo patio or balcony. You can also use containers to dress up and define areas of a larger yard by placing them near the house, seating areas or flower bed islands. Regardless of the size of the container and the type, such as wood or terra cotta, adding the right kind of soil will help keep your plants healthy.
Before you add anything to your containers, move them around to various locations until you’re satisfied with their placement; once you add gravel and soil, the containers often become too heavy to move. Adding a layer of gravel to the bottom of the containers helps them drain properly. Your plants need about 12 inches of soil for adequate root systems with a soil-free lip of about an inch at the top of the container. If the container is deeper than 12 inches, placing filler such as empty capped plastic bottles or plastic bags filled with foam packing peanuts in the bottom of the pot can help you use less garden soil in the container. Leave 13 inches free above the filler for the soil.
For the container planting to be successful, the soil must allow for proper drainage while retaining enough moisture to feed the root systems. The plants also need air space within the soil, as densely-packed soil can choke a plant’s roots. To meet the needs of growing plants in a container, garden soil must be mixed with other components. While store-bought potting soil often includes fertilizer, making your own potting soil from garden soil requires added compost or a fertilizer that meets the needs of the plants you plan to add to the container. The fertilizer can be added later, such as spraying a water-soluble fertilizer designed for flowers over your flowering plants.
Garden Soil Only
Although it’s tempting to use only soil out of your existing garden to fill your container, it’s usually not the best idea. Garden soil tends to be denser than potting soil, so it doesn’t drain well, and it requires aeration from worms or grubs. It may also contain weed seeds or fungus spores that can grow in your container. While it’s not a good idea to use only garden soil in your containers, you can add a small amount to other components in your container to help the mixture retain moisture and nutrients. Use garden soil that you dig from several inches below the surface to try to find the cleanest soil available, free of weed seeds and harmful mites and insects that reside on the soil surface.
Your recipe for potting soil using your garden soil as a base should contain a mineral component, such as perlite, builder’s sand or vermiculite, and an organic one, such as compost or peat moss. A simple soil mix includes equal parts of garden soil, peat moss and sand. Tailoring the mixture to the type of plant in your container means using additional sand and less peat moss for cacti or extra compost for a container vegetable garden, for example. Flowering plants usually require more water than green plants, so a mixture that retains more moisture in the soil — such as one with a little extra garden soil or peat moss — is best for them.
Tips on Filling Containers With Garden Soils. Planting in containers allows you to work your green thumb in small spaces, such as a condo patio or balcony. You can also use containers to dress up and define areas of a larger yard by placing them near the house, seating areas or flower bed islands. Regardless of the …