Garden Gab: Wacky, Wonderful Container Gardening

As summer approaches, container gardens are a clever, flexible way to protect your precious plants from too much heat or sun. See it droop? No need to dig it up, you just move the container to another location.

There are dozens of wacky ways to host an outdoor or patio container garden, from using a shoe holder on a door as a planter, creating a container garden wall or even a hydroponic garden like DTSP’s marvelous Brick Street Farms. Most veggies, flowers, succulents and herbs all do just as well in pots as the ground.

Let your imagination run wild. You can paint a salvaged chair, take off the seat and insert a planter. You can convert an old dresser into a succulent garden by planting in staggered, open drawers. One of my favorites is the toilet bowl planter in Sweet Sage restaurant’s alfresco dining, filled with hanging plants and odd, repurposed containers.

Whether you have a small or large space, here are some container garden tips from horticulture experts, including the University of Florida IFAS Extension ( ).

Pam Crawford’s “Container Gardens for Florida” is a great source of ideas and is available on Amazon and in local bookstores.

  • If you are planting more than one plant in the same pot make sure they all share the same need for light, amount of water, and fertilizer scheduling.
  • Make sure your pot has adequate drainage and good, fresh soil for potting.
  • Mix up plants of different height, color, and texture.
  • Water your container gardens in the morning to let soil dry out, preventing diseases and viruses. Always check to see if they need water BEFORE watering.
  • Fertilize only as needed; too much fertilizer results in a buildup of salts and will burn the roots of your plants.
  • Vegetables can be grown too, but pick a container that suits the height of the mature plants, too: you don’t want your tall plants to shade out your smaller plants. Certain plants tend to be tall, like corn, trellised tomatoes, trellised squash, trellised beans, and okra.  Other plants are of medium height, e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, collards, swish chard, basil, peppers, rosemary, eggplant, garlic, and celery. Then there are some shorter plants, such as radishes, onions, lettuce, thyme, oregano, carrots, strawberries, & untrellised vining crops.
  • There are also bush or dwarf forms of many vegetables that will defy these generalizations, and you can seek out the varieties that suit your landscape. Keep in mind that any vining plant can be trellised to support it or just to save room in your garden.

For more on hydroponic gardening, go to


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