“Repotting your plants is one of the most important things you can do if you choose to have a container garden, while making sure they are clean and appropriately sized,” he explains.
Pruning is also critical. Clear out old branches and dead leaves when needed. “Some plants can handle — and actually prefer — to be root bound and stuck in a small pot, while others need to have a lot of legroom to stretch out their roots with regular water,” adds John Dave, arborist and founder of gardening blog Agro Fever. “If you know where your plant comes from, its native habitat, you can learn how to replicate their preferred climatic conditions,” he explains.
Another thing to consider when growing plants in pots is the size of the pot and type of plant. “The trick is to choose varieties that are small or were developed for containers,” explains Nancy Trautz-Awot, Horticulture Specialist at Burpee gardening, a leading seed and plant company based in Warminster, Pennsylvania. For example, big plants like tomatoes and peppers generally need a large planter and should be limited to one plant per pot. Smaller plants like lettuce, green beans, herbs and strawberries can often accommodate several plants in one pot, depending on the size of the pot.
Ask your local nursery or wherever you purchase your plants or seeds from for the proper care instructions for the plant that you want to grow.
If you need a little inspiration, here are 8 plants you can grow in pots that can make a nice addition to your home:
People use aloe vera to treat skin burns, ease skin conditions like psoriasis and help prevent skin ulcers. It’s also in a variety of skincare products for its moisturizing properties and has been found to help support wound healing. The great news is you can grow your own aloe plant in your home and yes, inside a pot. “Aloe vera thrives in small pots and it needs very little water,” says Kate Russell, author of Stop Wasting Your Yard! and owner/author of The Daily Garden gardening blog. To use aloe, cut off a piece of the leaf, scoop out the gel, and rub it on your skin. Aloe plants don’t need direct sun and will do OK with bright, indirect light.
Love the taste of fresh figs? You can grow them on your own. “These can be large trees but can perform well in containers and even fruit if grown outside,” says Bugarchich. Like many ficus, fig trees will lose their leaves in cold weather, which is usually the sign to bring them inside or cover them for the winter. “These plants love regular water during their growing seasons but once they lose their leaves they stop needing as much water until it warms up again,” he adds. Fig plants will survive colder temperatures as long as the plant does not freeze. “A good nutrient-filled, well-draining soil mix is perfect for these trees,” Bugarchich says.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to make lemonade, you’ll be glad to know that you can grow lemon trees indoors. “Choose a pot that is large enough for the lemon tree to grow,” says Dave. The pot should have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out. Place the pot in a location that receives full sun. “To plant the lemon tree, fill the pot with a quality potting mix,” says Dave. He suggests placing the tree in the pot and backfilling it with the potting mix, tamping it gently around the roots. “Once the tree is established, water it regularly,” Dave says. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. It is typically helpful to fertilize the tree every few months with a lemon tree fertilizer.
“Peanuts are not typically grown in pots, but with a little care and attention, it is possible to grow them in containers,” says Dave. Peanuts usually need full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches deep and has drainage holes. Dave recommends filling the pot with a mixture of half sand and half loam. Peanuts are root crops and do not tolerate frost, so if you keep them outdoors, wait to plant them until all danger of frost has passed. This plant will need to be watered frequently, especially during hot, dry weather. “Peanuts are ready to harvest when the peanut shells turn brown and begin to split open,” explains Dave. “To harvest, twist the peanut plant gently to loosen the peanuts from the plant, and then pull the plant up by the roots.”
Cucumbers typically need full sun and well-drained soil. “They also require a lot of water, so be sure to water them regularly,” says Dave. If you’re growing cucumbers in pots, he says to make sure the pots are at least 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. “To get started, fill your pots with a high-quality potting mix and add some organic matter,” Dave recommends. “Then, sow your cucumber seeds about 1/2 inch deep.” Once the seedlings have emerged, it is recommended that you thin them out so that there are only 2-3 per pot. If the plant starts to grow upwards, you may need to secure it with a trellis so the cucumbers can grow on it.
Many people believe that you need a green thumb to grow carrots in pots, but this is not necessarily the case. “With a little bit of patience and the following steps, you can grow carrots in pots successfully,” says Dave. First, he suggests choosing a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and has drainage holes. Dave then recommends that you fill the pot with a quality potting mix and water it thoroughly. Next, sow the seeds thinly, no more than 2-3 per inch. Cover the seeds lightly with potting mix and water them gently. “Place the pot in a sunny spot and keep the soil moist but not wet,” Dave explains. The seeds should germinate within 1-2 weeks. When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, transplant them into individual pots.
“Continue to water and fertilize the plants, and soon you will have delicious, home-grown carrots to enjoy,” says Dave.
Want a fun fuzzy plant to decorate your home? Grow your own cotton plant. “While cotton can be tricky to grow, it is possible to do so in pots,” says Dave.
First, it is recommended to choose a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. Be sure to use a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot with a high-quality potting mix. Next, sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and water them well. The seeds should germinate within 7-10 days. “Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them so that only the strongest plants remain,” says Dave. He explains that cotton plants need full sun to thrive, so be sure to place the pot in an area that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. “Water the plants regularly, being sure to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy,” he adds. And when it blooms, you can grab your own cotton swab!
Want to make your home a little tropical? Grow a hibiscus in a pot. This tropical plant makes beautiful flowers — the kinds you see ladies wearing in their hair in Hawaii. “This flower offers an eye-catching addition to a cluster of pots, especially if one of them has a braided trunk,” says Aaditya Bhatta, founder of Plants Craze. “As long as you keep it from the cold, it also has a long lifespan.” Choose a pot that has drainage holes so you don’t over water, and don’t let the soil completely dry out in between waterings. The plant will do best near a sunny windowsill or window.
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