Creativity with container gardens

Creativity with container gardens

Sure, pots and planters are used to grow pretty flowers lining window-sills, porches, patios and balconies.

But, have you ever thought of unleashing your creativity to raise lovely flowers and fruits and vegetables besides aromatic herbs in containers of different shapes, sizes, materials and hues? Sounds utopian? Not really. Container gardens are an age-old concept – whether as stand-alone or in conjunction with a regular garden, indoor or outdoor, aesthetic or functional.

The greatest advantage of container gardening, however, is that you can grow plants anywhere, rearrange them often for novelty, have themed landscaping with relative ease and flaunt your creativity through choice of colourful and artistic containers.

Curious? Read on. First, the types of plants you can grow in containers - flowers (seas­onal/perennial) like geraniums, begonias, petunias...foliage plants like coleus, vines/creepers, succulents like aloe, cacti, fruits, vegetables (toma­toes/potatoes/cucumbers…) and herbs.

Shrubs and trees too, if the containers are large and robust enough! What you can actually grow depends on whether the sunlight available is in tandem with your particular plant’s needs. Or, expose the plants to sunlight for the required time in a different sunny spot and post-sunbath, repopulate their original location. 

 As for containers, a wide variety of pots, planters, urns and specially-crafted containers are available. But, you needn’t always shop for containers. Forage for them! Bright-coloured plastic tubs/containers, baskets, discarded shoes, old tea-pots/jugs, stainless steel cubes and pen-stands, tyres, glass jars, old aquariums, trays and even used grocery bags! Use your imagination and options are unlimited! Only, bore holes at the bottom for drainage. Place plates at the pots’ bottom for collecting the excess water-flow. Line baskets with plastic sheets with holes carved at the bottom. How you mix and match shapes, sizes and colours as you arrange the containers ultimately decides your potted garden’s aesthetics. You can display plants at different levels/heights too. 

 Choose plants that suit their container’s appearance. You can also plant multiple varieties with similar water-needs in one container. Only it shouldn’t be too crowded, stifling the plants’ growth. Plant the taller ones at the container’s rear and flowing vines around the edges. Also remember, a large container with a small plant (or vice versa) doesn’t make for a beautiful sight. If your container’s too roomy, fill up the bottom with empty plastic bottles to reduce space within. 

 Usually, a soil-less mixture of perlite, vermiculite and peat moss/sorghum moss is recommended. Prepare compost yourself or apply slow-release fertiliser. Water-supply should be neither excessive nor scarce. Water plants once daily. If in doubt, stick your finger into the soil about two inches deep. If you feel the soil’s dry there, water the plant. Hanging planters, small pots and containers made of clay/terracotta/wood need more frequent watering, especially in summer. Employ mulch to retain moisture longer. 

Weeds and pests bother a container-garden less gravely. Yet, check foliage, blooms and fruit for signs of insect damage/disease regularly. Isolate containers with infected plants till the pests are dispelled. With herbs, taking cuttings frequently and with flowering plants, pruning blooms once they fade (“deadheading”) stimulates growth.

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