There are few things better than building a thriving, year round container garden. We personally love growing fresh meyer lemons right from our kitchen countertop even in the middle of winter. If you are looking for container gardening tips so that you can have greenery year round you have come to the right place.
Container gardening is great for anyone without a yard, anyone who can't make big changes to their yard because they’re renting or for anyone who wants to try their hand at gardening in a small space before trying it on a larger scale. It is also the answer to those who grow plants that usually wouldn’t be able to survive the winter in your USDA Plant Hardiness zone. Either way, we’re here to share how to create a container garden, how to take care of your container garden each season, and how to avoid the most common container gardening mistakes.
How to Create a container garden
In general, when creating a container garden the most important things to consider are that your plants are getting enough (but not too much!) water, food, and light depending on their needs. This means choosing a pot with enough drainage, providing your plants with high quality soil and fertilizer, and placing your plants in an area with enough sunlight.
If you’re creating a container garden for the first time, there are a few more things to know. But, we suggest heading to our blog post on how to create a container garden in 3 easy steps, which will provide all of the information you need to know.
Container gardening in the winter
Like we mentioned earlier, container gardening is a great way to grow plants indoors, on patios, and even on your kitchen countertops. The challenge of container gardening in the winter is that plants need light to grow and often there is less sunshine indoors during the winter.
Some people use artificial lights or grow lights to give their plants enough light. These are great solutions, but they can be expensive and aren’t always accessible for everyone. If your plants don’t seem to be thriving in the winter, we would suggest making sure they’re getting enough sunlight. If possible, try keeping them in a windowed room with lots of sunshine.
Also, don’t be alarmed if your tree drops a few leaves or doesn’t seem to be growing as quickly in the winter, that’s completely normal! Even evergreen trees slow down in the winter. It’s also important to make sure you acclimate your tree to its new setting, which we’ll talk about a little later on.
Container gardening in the spring
Ah, spring. The time of blooming flowers, warmer weather, and lots of nourishing rain showers for our plant friends. Some people plant container gardens in the fall and leave them outside until spring. But, others who are growing plants that wouldn’t survive the winter outside keep their container garden inside until spring.
One of the most common questions we get from those gardeners is: when is the right time to bring your container garden outside? The best time to do so depends on the plant, but in general early spring is best. Most plants can handle pretty chilly weather, but if you put your plant outside too early it might not survive a late winter frost.
When you bring your container garden outside, you might want to consider repotting some of your growing plants. Spring is usually the best time to repot your plants as it gives them extra space for their growing root systems. Spring is also the best time to give your plant some slow release fertilizer so that they have everything they need to thrive over the spring and summer seasons.
Container gardening in the summer
Container gardening is a great option for people who want to grow food in their small urban gardens or balconies. Plants thrive during the summer season because of all of the sunshine and warm weather. Because of this, you might find that your plants grow quite a lot during the spring and summer season.
In general, it’s best to change your pot before summer begins, but you can also decide to do it in the summer after you’ve seen how much it has grown. Luckily, there isn’t much to do during the summer season for your plants because they will be taken care of by the earth’s abundant sunshine and rains.
Just make sure you watch out for any animals that might think your plants are a tasty snack or any potential pest infestations!
Container gardening in the fall
Container gardening in the fall is a great way to extend your gardening season. Depending on how quickly it gets cold where you live, fall is where you can take your plants back inside for the winter.
There are many factors that determine when you should bring your plants indoors, such as the weather, temperature, and length of day. The best time to do this is usually in October or November when the sun starts getting weaker and you are starting to see colder weather on the horizon.
Fall is also when you should think about providing your plants with some more slow release fertilizer so that they have what they need over the winter months.
The Most Common Container Gardening Mistakes
Overall, container gardening can be pretty easy once you get the hang of it. But there are a few common mistakes that people make when container gardening. The first is putting your plants in a container without holes. When you put your plant in a pot without the correct drainage, this could lead to water pooling in its soil, which can lead to root rot.
The second most common container gardening mistake is not acclimating your plant when you bring it inside for the winter and put it back outside for the spring. We recently had a customer with an olive tree which started to lose a lot of its leaves once she brought it inside for the winter.
We soon realized the tree was experiencing shock after going from her crisp, sunny backyard to her warm, darker third-floor converted attic space. Luckily, just by lowering the upstairs heat and making sure it was by the window, she was able to greatly reduce the amount of leaf drop.
If possible, it’s best to slowly adjust your plants to the warmer, darker indoor air by putting them in a shaded spot for a few weeks before bringing them in. You can also try bringing your plant indoors at night for a few weeks. You can then slowly increase the amount of time your plant is spending indoors until it is indoors full-time.
If you’re interested in learning more about our olive tree, Matt shares some more container gardening-relevant tips in this video:
We hope you learned a lot about container gardening through the seasons and always feel free to reach out to us with any questions by contacting us here.