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Container gardening involves planting crops, fruit, flowers and plants in pots, tubs, containers and baskets.
Usually, people will use containers on patios, decking or paving but in recent years, those with smaller outdoor spaces have taken to growing a plethora of plants in containers.
Containers come in various shapes and sizes, as well as different materials and can be more or less suited to certain plant varieties.
Some people will even grow plants in containers on driveways, outside back doors and on windowsills – the choices are endless.
However, container gardening is not just limited to those with small gardens, containers offer maximum flexibility when being used in any garden, small or large.
With this in mind, experts at Two Wests & Elliot Ltd have provided their in-depth knowledge of container gardening.
Watering is one of the most essential tasks when it comes to ensuring container plants remain healthy.
However, the correct watering routine is just as important. The experts said: “Incorrect watering can result in stunted growth, reduced flowering, smaller crops and increased disease and pest damage.
“As plants growing in containers are in a restricted place they only have that limited space from which to access water.”
The time of year, temperatures, weather and positioning will impact how often these plants will need to be watered.
The main rule to remember is to never allow the compost in a container to completely dry out between watering as this can make it really hard for the plants to recover.
When choosing a container, gardeners need to think about the drainage they offer.
While plants need to be kept well-watered, they don’t like being sat in a puddle of water.
For some plants, being sat in a puddle of water can rot the roots and even water the plants.
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Plants growing in limited space with only a small amount of compost need to be fed regularly so they get nutrients to grow.
The experts said: “It’s important to top up the nutrients when you water – ideally, during the growing season once a week, you should add a water-soluble fertiliser when you water.
“If you have an automated watering system set up to keep your container plants watered, then adding fertiliser into this system is easy if the manufacturer has designed a container which can be added to your irrigation system to hold and dispense fertiliser.”
Surprisingly, the colour of the container can affect the temperature of the soil. For example, a dark-coloured container will increase the temperature of the soil.
A light-coloured container will keep soil temperatures cooler. According to the experts, research has also shown that root growth is affected if the soil is too warm.
Some plants tolerate heat better than others like Mediterranean plants. But heat-sensitive plants will find their root growth could be stunted if they’re in a dark-coloured container.
Like any garden plant, containers are vulnerable to pests like slugs, snails and aphids. However, there are ways to keep pests at bay.
Clean the containers prior to planting
Use hot soapy water or use a natural cleaner like Citrox.
Use fresh potting compost
New, fresh bags of potting compost should be pest-free. When storing open bags of compost, keep them in a sealed container to keep pests out.
Check plants before placing them into containers
Before planting new flowers, crops or plants, always check the undersides of leaves and under the pot. Also, check the root ball once it has been removed from the pot.
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