By Kristen Plank
University of Georgia
This is important for people who live in apartments or condos and don't have a place to garden. And a full-sun plant doesn't have to be limited by a shady part of the lawn. In a container, it can easily be moved to the appropriate place, said Pennisi, who works on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga. It's one the many perks to having a container garden.
Be careful which plants you put together, though. This will decide whether your plants survive or die, she said.
"You have to match the plants in the container to their specific needs, which include light, nutrition and water," she said. Matching fast-growing plants with slow-growing ones will allow the faster ones to take over the little, slow ones.
Best betKnowing your plants is your best bet for success, Pennisi said. When looking into container sizes, keep dwarf-size plants together in a smaller pot and large plants in bigger ones. The size of the container depends, too, on how often you have time to take care of the plants.
"A small container in the summer may require watering three or four times a day," she said.
You can get around this, she said, with self-watering containers and hydrogels. These gels are combined with a potting mix and, once the plant is watered, release water during the day when the plant needs it. This helps people who can't tend the plant at all times of the day.
The type of soil is important, too, when considering a container garden. "Mostly, you have to think about the soil being well-drained and having adequate soil-moisture capacity," Pennisi said.
Just rightThe soil should be neither too coarse nor too fine. This will allow the plant to "breathe" and access water easily.
"When mixing plants, make sure to match their environmental needs," she said. "For springtime, you want warm-day-and-cool-night plants, and for summer you want plants that do well in the heat and humidity days and nights."
Some plants that do well in a container together, she said, include a spring mix of snapdragon, ornamental kale, parsley and pansies. Another spring combination may include twinspur, lobelia and nemesia. For a summer mix, try vinca, coleus and verbena.
"You can put five plants together in a container and have a small garden right there on your patio," Pennisi said. This flexibility of container gardening allows anyone to continue their gardening passion and not be restricted by where they live.
(Kristen Plank is a student writer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)