Monday, April 20, 2009

So many plants, so little land...

I believe almost all gardeners soon run out of space to plant. So, what is a gardener to do when she can not bear to part with any of her beloved plants to make way for new and there are so many more to adore?

Put them in containers!

Over the weekend, I attended Cherie Czaplicki "Container Gardening" class at the Maricopa Extension and learned a lot. The fabulous cascading plant is a Myoporum parvifolium 'Prostratum' used a ground cover here in Phoenix. Cherie has had her Myoporum in this pot for 4 years with a little pruning effort she said it looks this great all year long.

Success with Container Gardening

What do I need for successful container Gardening?

  1. A container – consider size and material.
  2. Growing Medium – consider making your own mix.
  3. Plants – consider annuals, perennials, grasses and bulbs. Exposure – consider amount of sun and/or shade.

The container…

  • When choosing a container, choose a nice size 12” or larger.
  • Use the rule of thumb, drain hole(s) should be about the size of your thumb and preferably on the lower side.
  • Clay pots provide excellent movement of moisture and air through the walls of the pot and act as “mini swamp coolers.” In addition, both moisture and air are needed for a healthy root system thus healthy plant.

The Growing Medium…

All-purpose Mix:

  • One-third high quality commercial potting soil
  • One-third pumice (pumice is porous and weighty and will aid in moisture control and help to keep soil molecules from clumping into a mud mess)
  • One-third shredded sphagnum peat moss or sifted home-made compost

Succulent and Cacti Mix:

  • Two to three part pumice
  • One part potting mix

Light weight mix – ideal for hanging baskets

  • One-third vermiculite
  • One-third perlite
  • One-third shredded peat moss or sifted compost.

Putting it all together…

  • Place window screen over drain holes in container.
  • Fill with growing medium mix.
  • Most container gardens include trailing plants, tall spiky plants and mounding plants.
  • Tip: to encourage trailing plants to trail, tip root ball a bit onto its side and be sure potting medium will cover adequately.
  • Place plants as much in the center as possible. Avoid planting against the sides of container.
  • You may consider a mulch of some type to top off your container.

After class, I headed straight for the nursery to pick up pumice and Happy Frog, then straight home to repot all my plants!!! What a wonderful day!

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