|Classic Container Plant, courtesy FuchsiaMagic.com|
Plus 3 Container No-nos
Container gardens are all the rage right now, according to popular garden periodicals from budget-conscious Better Homes and Gardens to spare-no-expense Sunset Magazine. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, and more container-friendly plants are hybridized every year. Containers can provide inexpensive patio décor, and can be moved around during the growing season as temperature and light exposure changes. Container gardens require less soil and less manual labor to get started than larger beds, but they also require more frequent watering and fertilizing during the growing season. Be prepared to check the soil moisture and plant wiltiness every day when it’s hot out. Some plants will need daily watering when the weather is especially toasty.
Here are a few easy-to-grow plants that adapt well to containers, plus a few that I wouldn’t recommend under most circumstances. For other ideas, check your local garden store for new container-friendly varieties. Try chatting up workers and shoppers, if the opportunity presents itself.
|Fave Four Perennial Container Herbs|
|2013's Basil So Far: Thai and Lime|
|Beefsteak (left) & Super Bush|
Sweet peppers: OK, I have never tried these, until this week. The same farmer at the UCSC Farm who recommended planting tomatoes in containers says that peppers do well if given plenty of water and fertilized frequently. Like tomatoes, peppers prefer a sunny, warm climate. Look for fog-friendly varieties if you’re on the coast, and/or place them in the hottest, sunniest spot in the yard. I don’t recommend growing either peppers or tomatoes from seed, especially in cooler climates. To make the most of the growing season, start with already-established plants.
|Persian Mint courtesy FromSeedToTable.blogspot.com|
|Poppies Also Attract Bees to the Garden|
|See FuchsiaMagic.com for More Varieties|
3 (Mostly) Not Container-Friendly Plants
Parsley: Yes, it seems like it would take to pots like most other herbs, but this has not been true in my experience. Grown in a bed, however, it tends to reseed easily and come up the following years in rather inconvenient semi-shady spots, such as the cracks in the patio below the picnic table.
Most Squash: Typically squash likes to be planted on top of a mound and trail down on the soil. Usually two plants (or 3 seeds) are planted and trailed down opposite sides of the mound. I’ve not been successful at fooling squash into thinking that it will “trail down” from a pot. So I’m planting my butternut on a classic squash mound. Renee Shepherd introduced a container-friendly bush-like zucchini plant that I’m planting in a pot this year, though. Given the success of Renee’s Super-bush tomatoes in small containers last year, I’m optimistic.
Artichoke: In the Bay Area, artichokes are extremely happy in the garden and will overwinter and produce throughout the years. They need more space than a container provides, and will spread out to 4-5 feet in diameter. Where winters are mild they essentially produce forever, so it’s best to locate your artichokes in a spot where you’ll enjoy seeing them for many years.