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Getting Started with Planting Containers

Watering Tips

Container planting is extremely practical for balconies, decks and in places where other plants won't grow. Watering is probably the most important part of maintenance for ensuring healthy container plants.
  • Make sure the pot has a drainage hole. If it is clay or wood, you can drill a hole. If water can't drain out of the pot, the roots sit in water and will rot.
  • If the pot is sitting on a concrete balcony floor, raise it up on feet made out of clay or plastic. Flat pieces of brick or small squares of wood will also work to raise pots - just don't put them under the drainage hole. These allow the water to drain away from the pot.
  • If you use a saucer under your pot, don't let water stand it in. Check about an hour after watering and if there is still water in the saucer pour it off.
  • Before putting soil in the pot when planting, place a small piece of mesh or broken clay pot over the hole so that soil doesn't escape. Don't entirely cover the hole but leave enough space for the water to drain. Some gardeners recommend using an old tea bag over the hole.
  • Remember potted plants can dry very quickly in the sun and wind. Small pots can totally dry out in as little as a few hours.
  • Do the finger test. Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle to tell if the soil is moist.
  • It's hard to overwater outdoor pots that have good drainage. Many potted gardens need watering every day.
  • Group your pots. The larger display can be magnicent and watering is easier in a large group.
  • Moisture retention granules are great for holding the water and then slowly releasing it back into the soil as it dries out. Remember to place granules about 2" below the surface so that the water is released to the roots where it is needed. Besides, when the granules swell with water they look like big clumps of white goo on top of the soil where they aren't serving any useful purpose.

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