Not every garden needs to be planted in the ground. Tonkadale Greenhouse specializes in creating container gardens, large and small, for indoor or outdoor enjoyment. The first step is to select the appropriate container for your garden. Choose the right size for the space you want to fill, and make sure it's not too heavy to move it if you need to do so. The material of the container also can make a difference in the success of your garden. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of some common materials.
Cast ironAdvantages: Durable, elegant, classic designs, neutral colors. Can tolerate winter conditions. Disadvantages: Heavy. Rust can damage surfaces. Cast iron will heat up in the sun.
Glazed potteryAdvantages: Many shapes and sizes. Bright and bold colors. Statement pieces. Good value. Disadvantages: Not always tolerant of freezing and thawing. Heavy to move.
FiberglassAdvantages: Lightweight. Easy to move. Grays and neutral colors. Durable. Disadvantages: Can be an expensive option. Fading, chipping and material breakdown can be a problem.
ConcreteAdvantages: Elegant designs in many classic styles. Good water retention. Stands up against the elements. Disadvantages: Heavy. Weathers with time.
PlasticAdvantages: Lightweight. Inexpensive. Good water retention. The “look for less.” Disadvantages: May not be as durable. Fading can be a problem. Temporary.
MetalAdvantages: Bright colors. Antique looks available. Good water retention. Disadvantages: Heats up in the sun. Can rust or dent. Weathers with time.
Terra cottaAdvantages: Classic planter styles. Good for smaller plantings. Disadvantages: Not durable in winter conditions. Dries out quickly through evaporation.
Iron stoneAdvantages: Weather resistant. Stands up to freezing and thawing. Natural and earthy colors. Disadvantages: Heavy to move.
ResinAdvantages: Lightweight. Less expensive option. Disadvantages: Can break with impact. May not stand up to the elements.
WoodAdvantages: Natural product. Easy for do-it-yourself projects - choose your color or stain. Disadvantages: Weathers with time. Rooting may be a problem. [rev_slider containerblog2014] [gap height="30"]
Setting up your containerChoose a potting soil with good drainage, water retention and organic matter. Tonkadale recommends our special Tonka Terra mix. We want you to be successful with your containers. Tonkadale recommends that you use fresh potting soil each growing season. Over time, important soil properties for proper plant health deteriorate. Nutrition, porosity, water retention and drainage all decrease with time and use. Tonkadale recommends that annual plants be given 12 to 18 inches of fresh soil for any container garden. The bottom of the container can be filled with a filler of your choice:
- Pop cans.
- Old plastic grower pots.
- Milk jugs.
- Gravel (if weight is needed).
- Packing peanuts.
- Old plastic pots.
- Ups-a-Daisy Planter Inserts.
DrainageDrainage is a must for all container gardens. If your container doesn’t have a hole, you can drill one, poke one or cut a hole into the bottom of the container. Another option is to use a drop-in or liner. This is simply a plastic pot (or a pot made of another inexpensive material) that fits the depth and diameter of your container. The benefits of using a drop-in are many:
- They provide drainage if your decorative pot does not have proper drainage.
- They reduce the risk of damage to your pots due to freezing and thawing temperatures in the winter.
- They make it easer to change your containers from season to season. All you need to do is simply lift the drop-in out of your pot and dump its contents, plants and all, and you are ready to start again for the next season.
Exposure and light requirementsKnow your site. Pick the right plants for your light exposure.
- Full sun — 6 or more hours of full sun
- Part sun — Less than 6 hours of full sun, morning sun
- Shade — Dappled light, filtered light, indirect light, less than 4 hours of sunlight
Picking your plantsAt Tonkadale, we always say “foliage first.” Use foliage as the architecture of your container. If the flowers weren’t there, would your container still look good? There are many tropical and exotic foliage plants that work great in containers. House plants and perennials can be used, too. Another rule of thumb: “Big and chunky, fun and funky.” Choose a few key elements to highlight in your containers. This creates more impact and drama Tonkadale relies on a few quintessential recipes for sun and shade For shade: Fern, begonia, ivy. There is a lot of diversity in these elements. You can switch out one element for another with similar height, such as ferns; blooming power, such as the begonia; and trailing characteristics, like the ivy. For sun: A spike, cordyline or grass, geraniums, coleus, petunia, potato vine. Within these different plant varieties, there is great diversity. No two people will end up with the same container if you use this recipe. When all else fails, start at the coleus table. The experts here always know to lead you in the right direction. And of course, Tonkadale always has a plethora of sun and shade containers all planted up and ready to go! That’s a great place to draw inspiration or just grab and go. We won’t tell your neighbors that you didn’t plant it.
Fertilizing and watering containersWatering requirements will vary based on:
- Sun exposure.
- Material of the container.