For the avid gardener, the limitations of space are never an issue. Even if you are an apartment dweller, it is not too difficult to indulge in your hobby-use containers for plants, herbs or summer blossoms. Whether its pots, barrels, baskets or tubs, anything that will hold soil can be used to grow your garden right on your window sill or balcony. While the basics of gardening remain the same for container gardening, a little specialized knowledge goes a long way in keeping your potted plants lush and healthy. Here are a few tips on how to care for your potted plants and outdoor plant planters.
Preparing the container
Like we mentioned earlier, any container should do, provided it is able to hold soil and has a proper drainage. The most crucial issue in container gardening is the drainage. Ideally, the pot should have at least a couple of drainage holes. Before adding the potting soil to the pot, add an inch of gravel at the bottom. This helps better drainage. The next step is to add a little soil with a layer of compost. The pot may be topped off with a thin layer of soil. Ensure that you leave a little free space on the top so that the soil does not run off when you water the plant.
Watering your potted plants
How much water a plant needs depends on various factors including plant species, the size of the pot, the growth cycle, the foliage content, light, temperature and the humidity in the atmosphere. A good way to know if your potted plant needs watering is to poke a finger to get a feel of the soil. Is the soil dry? Then, it definitely needs watering. If your finger comes out wet with soggy soil, you might be over-watering your potted plant.
Fertilizer for potted plants
The soil for potted plants is limited and depletes very quickly in terms of nutrients. So you need to feed or fertilize the soil often. Most people tend to purchase inorganic fertilizers available at the local nursery. However, your potted plants will do well with some organic fertilizer or compost. You can prepare your own organic fertilizers with the help of vegetable waste from the kitchen. Contents of tea bags, coffee dregs, vegetable and fruit peels, discarded leafy greens and stems provide a wealth of nutrients when they decompose. Simply chop fine, mix with the potting soil and watch your plants thrive.
Re-potting your plants
In a pot, there is only so much space for the plant to grow. Sooner or later, the roots of the plant become packed in the confined space of the pot arresting the growth. When this happens, you will need to repot the plant. The most obvious sign for repotting is when the roots start to show up on the surface or move out through the drainage holes. If the plant gives off-shoots, they need to be separated and planted elsewhere so that there is no crowding in the pot.
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