Probably no other form of gardening allows greater versatility than container gardening. For those who love to garden but live in apartments or other small spaces or for people with limited mobility, containers can provide the perfect solution. A container garden can also be an excellent way to add beauty to your yard, porch or deck.
CHOOSING THE CONTAINER
You don't have to limit your containers to the typical terracotta pots or formal looking urns. Use your imagination. Choose pots and containers that compliment your surroundings as well as the plants you have in mind for your container garden. The wide variety of colors and styles that are available makes it easy to find the perfect planter to match an existing décor or to create something completely unique.
One important thing to remember when choosing your planters is that they must have drainage holes. Most plants don't like having their roots sitting in water. Also depending on your climate you may want containers that can withstand extreme temperatures. Soil will expand when it freezes, so if you live in a cold climate, it's better to choose a sturdy material such as wood.
Plants Recommended for Containers
When choosing plants for your container garden, consider your planting zone and how you can winter over your plants. Of course, this won't be a problem if you're using annuals. These can often be the best selection for container gardens as they provide constant color for the warmer months and eliminate the problems of having to winter them over. Most herbs are excellent for containers as are the beautiful multicolored coleus plants, petunias, marigolds and if your container garden is on a shaded balcony or patio try impatiens. They thrive in lightly shaded areas.
Maintaining Your Containers, and Yourself
It's important to consider how much work and time you have to put into your container garden. There's nothing worse than a neglected garden, so don't take on more than you can manage. Selecting the right plants can make maintenance a lot easier. Cactus and succulent type plants are extremely hardly, especially in hot and dry areas and their ability to go for long periods without water. If you live in a warmer climate that's free of frost, a tropical container garden can be beautiful but remember that these plants will need more water. Of course if you have a sun porch or your home gets a lot of sun, you can often move many of your plants inside during the colder months. For the avid gardener it would be wise to invest in some basic garden supplies to maintain all of your hard work. Basic garden tools to consider are garden gloves, and hand pruners.
Planting Your Container
Don't forget that your container will be much heavier when filled with soil and plants, so it is best to use a soil-less potting mix, which will be much lighter than regular soil. Use small rocks or broken flower pot shards in the bottom of your containers to provide drainage. Here's a good place to use some of those packing peanuts you don't know what to do with. They're lightweight and make great drainage material. Water your container garden thoroughly after planting. Using pebbles, wood chips, or even marbles as a sort of mulch will help prevent the soil from drying out.
---source : Amanda B.