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How to make yourself a potted garden.

How to make yourself a potted garden.

With more and more people living in rented apartments and townhouses, potted gardens have never been more popular. Potted gardens require less space and are completely portable, so you can arrange (and rearrange) your garden as often as you want. Better yet, unlike a regular garden, you can take it all with you if pack up and move.    

Potted gardening (or container gardening) gives you the freedom to plant whatever you like, with less maintenance. So if you want to know how to create your own potted garden, here are some simple tips from our resident plant nerds (and some cool stuff our grandmas taught us).

Consider location and positioning. Notice the light and choose plants that suit that space. 

Are you still struggling to decide what to plant in your potted garden? Consider your positioning. If your balcony or patio faces north you will need full sun or hardy plant varieties such as succulents, hibiscus, geraniums, grevilleas, callistemons, aloes and agapanthus. Shrubs like frangipanis and syzygiums, as well as most fruit trees, are also great options.

Planting the south side is a little more challenging as it doesn’t get much sun, but you can have success with camellias as long as they get enough ambient light. You can also choose from our shade-loving collection

Finding that right container. 

While potted gardens dry out a lot quicker than regular gardens, it’s also important to avoid overwatering. Overwatering potted plants can lead to root rot, which is why container drainage is so essential. Choose containers or balcony pots that have lots of drainage holes - this is a must! No compromise here. Without that hole, your roots will become waterlogged and pretty much die, or potentially you may not know if you are getting enough water down to the roots, therefore they dry out and die (both avoidable with drainage holes!)

If your desired pot doesn't happen to bear a fancy, practical hole, then you can place an insert into your pot. Something you can pot into and take in and out to water. Or better yet drill a few holes into the base of the pot yourself.

Next, think about weight. When you add together the weight of your container, soil, plants and water things start to get very, very heavy. Will you need to move the plants around a bit? In this case, choose a lighter pot, or put it on wheels so it can be easily rolled to a new position. On the other hand, make sure the container is substantial enough to counterbalance a top-heavy plant or stand up in a  windy spot.

Certain container materials, such as unglazed terracotta, are porous. This allows more airflow around the plant’s root system, but also means the soil dries out quicker as the pot absorbs a lot of the moisture. Check the soil more regularly in these pots as you may need to water them more frequently.

Frost can be the end of outdoor containers if you’re not careful; if you plan to leave your container outside all year it’s best to go for something frost-proof like plastic and metal that won’t crack when those temps drop.

Some great options for container gardening include our round recycled planters with either plain or self-watering inserts, or our balcony worthy recycled plastic balcony pots

Selecting plants for those containers

Outdoor plants will experience a lot more seasonal changes than your indoor plants ever will. They deal with the changes buy reacting to the seasons and dropping a few leaves or becoming dormant over the cooler months. This may influence your decision on whether to include certain varieties in your potted garden or not and how much effort you are willing to put back in. Evergreens will look lively and showy all year round whereas perennials and flowering shrubs will only be their best at certain times of the year, (Spring). Most gardens look best with a bit of everything. It is just whether you are looking for low maintenance or higher involvement gardens.

When it comes to container gardening, the possibilities are endless. If you want to be more sustainable, you can grow a wide range of herbs, fruit and vegies successfully in pots. If you are looking for a bit of colour on your patio or balcony, then opt for flowering plants (check out our flowering pack for ideal varieties).

Looking for the perfect plant selection for apartment living? Browse our balcony garden collection. If you think you would rather go with Australian native plants? Check out our native creation - The birds and bees native pack, she is the shoppers choice of 2020.

Choosing the right soil 

You can’t just use any old soil for container gardening, no no no! Rather than stealing the dirt from your possibly disease-infested garden beds or dumping any old soil mix into a container, choose a premium quality potting mix. A benefit of container planting is that you can put premium potting soils into your containers rather than dealing with whatever soil mix you’ve inherited in your garden. While most plants will be fine with an Australian standard mix, it’s important to check if your plant prefers acid or alkaline soil. Check your plant’s product page on our website to see whether it would like acidic soil.

Our preferred choice of soil mix is with Rocky Point soils and we carry the lines for convenience. 

Finding the right planting ratio 

When it comes to container gardening, it’s essential that you don’t overfill your containers. If plants are overcrowded, it can result in stunted growth both above and below the soil. To help you avoid overfilling your containers, here’s a simple guide: 

  • 25cm to 30cm pots can hold 3-4 plants
  • 35cm to 40cm pots can house 5-6 plants
  • 40cm to 50cm pots can house 6-8 plants 

If you’re putting more than one plant in a container, it’s important to make sure they like the same conditions: keep shade-loving plants together and in a different pot to sun-lovers, for instance, and those that prefer drier soil in a separate camp to those who like things moist.

Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers: know your plant style 

Thrillers are the big, bold focal point of your container plant designs. This plant provides an eye-catching vertical element. Tall ornamental grasses are a great low maintenance option. The thriller generally goes in the middle but if you are viewing your pot from the front then the plant can sit to the back of your container.

Filler plants
Fillers are mid-size, mounding or rounded plants that surround and enhance the thriller and fill the space in the planter. You can use one filler or opt for two or three different plants in your container.

Spiller plants
Spillers is just that - they are the splashy plants that cascade and tumble over the sides of the container.

Potting your plants 

This is the easy bit. Add soil to the bottom of the pot, up to a level that will lift the root ball of the plant so that it’s top sits just below the top of the container/nursery pot. Then remove your plants from their plastic nursery pots, loosen the roots a little, and pop them into the soil. Fill in the remaining space around the plants. Water and you are good to grow!

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