Container Gardening for Summer

Cary, NC – Container gardening is an easy and satisfying way to get your green thumb working during the heat of summer.

Perfect for Mid-Summer: Container Gardening

Mid-summer can seem like the doldrums in the garden. Nothing to do but water, weed and deadhead. Kinda blah.

Want to get your hands dirty? Want to make something grow and bloom now? Container gardening to the rescue.

Definition: Container Gardening

Container gardening is growing things in a pot or other receptacle as opposed to planting in the ground.

Rule #1 About Container Gardening

Set up your container garden near your outdoor water faucet – radius of 10 to 15 feet, max. Containers need frequent watering and it just doesn’t work if you have to roll out 40 feet of hose 3 times a week.

Adaptable to Any Spot

Container gardening is adaptable to any light condition – full sun, deep shade or anything in between.

In this example, I have a spot near the front door that has three lighting conditions – partial sun, mostly shade and deep shade. I used three pots and selected companionable plants for each lighting situation.

In the sunniest spot, I planted a perennial Coneflower, a tall plant, with an annual bright green trailing yam.

L->R: Coneflower, Sweet Potato vine, Caladium.

In the partial shade container, I selected a bright green coleus with a strong upright shape and added a “regular” begonia and a Rex begonia.

Top – Coleus. Bottom L – Rex Begonia. Bottom R – Begonia.

In deep shade container, I chose a mostly white caladium, a begonia for color and a mystery trailing perennial with delightful purple flowers. Help me identify it, gardeners!

Top: Caladium. Bottom R – Begonia. Bottom L – mystery plant

Herbs: Heck Yeah

Culinary herbs are great for containers. Generally speaking, herbs need a sunny spot.

Basil does well in a medium to large pot.

Thyme thrives in a smaller pot or as a companion plant. When thyme gets leggy and “bald” at the top, cut it back to force growth back to the center.

Other good herbs for pots include oregano, sage and savory.

More Thoughts on Container Gardening

Use Good Potting Soil

Good potting soil is a key to success in container gardening. Potting soil is light, nutritious and tastes delicious to plants.

Fertilize Lightly, But Often

Plants in containers need more plant food than those in a bed for a couple of reasons. Nutrients can run out of the drainage hole in the bottom of a container. Roots don’t have much dirt or much space and they suck the nutrients from the pot. Also remember, flowering things like petunias need food. So, I always use a little soluble plant food when I water container plants.

Raise Your Pots Off Wooden Decks

Raise your pots up off the deck to prevent wood rot. You can raise up a pot with other (larger) pots, clever “pot feet,” bricks, cinderblock. Use your imagination.

The Garden for Geezers

I like container gardening because it’s small-scale and doesn’t need a lot of bending or carrying. Just for the record, I prefer Geezer to Active Senior.


Story and photos by Hal Goodtree. The Gardening Column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road

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