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Hibiscus can easily be grown in containers; in fact, they have become my most treasured of container plants. These especially need good drainage in whatever container used, and use of a loose soil (1/4 perlite) is important. A good factor, from the Exotic Hibiscus website, is "they need good drainage. Most of our customers up north put a pot inside another pot (sic. with gravel in bottom to raise off water) to make sure the roots are not too wet." As the hibiscus plant grows, you may want to transplant to a larger container.
Container gardening is especially an easy and handy way for Seniors to maintain the beauty of a garden without all the work. You can avoid all that 'bending' and strain by putting container on table when planting. Once started, the upkeep is much easier; you can move your plants, flowers, herbs, vegetables at your leisure; you can have a few or many plants, depending on your needs or wants; no 'hoeing' allowed here (isn't that nice!). I started my container garden when I filled in my unused swimming pool (too much upkeep, seldom used, anymore - see my article on this). These gardens also attract butterfly. You can have your garden on an apartment balcony or patio, your back yard, or anywhere your ideas carry you. Plant and ENJOY!
Consider turning your garden container-saucers up-side-down. This will insure good drainage, and avoid standing water...where mosquitoes can breed and multiply; not a good thing! At the least, empty the water from saucers every evening during summer months.
ALWAYS buy potting soil mix for your container garden. I can't emphasize this enough: ALWAYS potting soil, NEVER 'ground' dirt. The potting soil is formulated for root aeration and moisture retention - a must for houseplants and Container Gardens!! I usually buy the 16-17 lb. size; and like Proterra or MiracleGrow (this latter even offers soil with a fertilizer already in it), which can be found at Targets, Home Depot, KMart, etc. I find the packaged soil cheaper at these locations than at specialty garden stores.
If you would like to attract butterflies to your container garden, try these plants:
Lantana - a low-growing perennial bush with clusters of small, colorful blooms.
Scabiosa (pincushion flower) - Blooms, on tall, slender stalks, are usually pink or lavender.
Fennel - Perennial that has slender stems and clusters of yellow flowers.
When planning the container garden consider the area you have available: if small area, use one large container and variety of smaller ones; if medium size area, two large containers and variety of medium to small ones. If unlimited space use large, medium and small assortment. A variety of floral colors or different shades of one color may be a good choice. But plan ahead, draw a schematic with colored pencils if necessary, and you'll reap beautiful rewards.
Most all plant containers will have drainage holes in the bottom. For 'regular' pots, you'll want to buy the saucer to set them in (if not attached). But, I've found some great 'buys' on containers that had no drainage hole. I make them: set an ice-pick on electric burner (or gas flame) on your stove, just long enough to heat it, then slowly puncture (pressure)from inside the container in the bottom (at least 3 - 4 punctures, depending on size of container). Before adding soil, place a shard (piece of broken clay pot or saucer) over the drainage - or even small rocks, this will keep the soil from draining out with the water. NOTE: my ice-pick has a wooden handle; be careful not to burn your hand when using the heated pick. ALWAYS have drainage in your containers to avoid root-rot and for healthier growth!
A partial list of flowers/plants to grow in containers: begonias, gerbera daisies, calla lilies, ferns, caladiums, day lilies, hibiscus, pansies, ornamental kale (winter), tomatoes, green peppers, ornamental pepper plants, strawberries. Just be sure the container is adequate for each plant.
Green peppers, as with all container plants, should begin from small plants (not seeds). These are easily grown in medium to large containers, depending on the amount of plants you choose. Two to three plants (in 20"+ container) will produce a goodly amount of the peppers, which are 'warm season' vegetables and enjoy sun, and continued watering until harvesting. A good vegetable fertilizer is recommended.
Long fiber sphagnum moss is ideal for lining hanging or stand-alone wire baskets. Moisten the moss (in a bucket of water), squeeze out excess water, then layer around the inside of basket, pressing slightly to strengthen the layer. Leave a well in the middle to add potting soil and plants.
These slim Serrano Peppers, explode with wildly hot flavor. Fruits are 2-1/4 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter, medium thin walls, green maturing to red. Plants grow 30-36 inches tall with good leafy cover, so add 'stakes' to your container pot. Harvest in 75-80 days. USES: Use the peppers green or red. Perfect for chili sauce, salsa, pickles, hot pepper vinegar, chili beans, guacomale. The peppers can be easily dried. SUGGESTION: Plant a variety of herbs to add flavor to hot pepper sauce and relish.
With all plants, whether green foliage or blooming, you will have healthier plants if you maintain a schedule for watering and fertilizing. This maintenance will enable plants to be more tolerant of insect attacks. Read directions on the fertilizer bag, and never over fertilize or over water. Good pot drainage is a must.
Garlic is another vegetable/herb that can be grown in containers. As they develop in growth, you might want to add stakes. Here is a link for all you need to know about Growing Garlic. Garlic adds wonderful flavor to most any food, and is also good for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels!
Depending on the size or type of plant you want, the container you buy is important. It is better to buy a larger container and include more than one plant in it, than to have too small a container. Get an idea of the plant(s) you want before buying the container. 'Tho don't pass up that great sale of any container you see...you'll find a way to use it!
During "Indian Summer" weather, think ahead to over-wintering some plants and saving seed from others for next year's garden. Geranium and begonia will over-winter in a cellar or basement just fine in their own pots. Save the seed only from marigold, cockscomb and similar plants. And don't forget you can keep Wandering Jew and coleus in a sunny window to enjoy all winter long!
Easily grown in containers, tomatoes can be enjoyed into the fall. Utilizing a 20" container, two plants can be grown with the aid of a wire cage placed into container just around and within the rim and about 4" into soil. Tomato plants require a good fertilizer applied at planting and every 30 days, and continued watering (do not let soil become too dry!). Plant needs lots of early-day sun.