January 2019 - Contrainer Gardening
Ryan Jerrell, owner of Dig It Gardens in downtown Phoenix, presented valuable information for the crowd that attended the Container Gardening Seminar. After sharing his journey to Master Gardener, Ryan launched into sharing his expertise with us.
Container garden considerations include sun exposure, container selection, soil blend, plant selection and water.
The first thing a gardener must do is consider the orientation of the space to be used in relation to sun exposure. The east side of your space has an ideal exposure as your plants will always get the morning sun. The south side gets plenty of “winter” sun. Be careful to adjust water as the sun moves. The west side of your space gets the sun at the hottest part of the day. Soil blend and watering are crucial for success here. The north side gets summer sun all day and shade in the winter months. This is the most difficult side of your space for successful plant growing.
Consider material composition. Choices include:
- Terra Cotta – porous material, but limited style and color selection,
- Concrete – high end custom options available, can be dyed or painted,
- Ceramic – endless style and color selection, but can retain heat and moisture,
- Fiberglass/clay fiber – lightweight, lots of style and color options, not proven to hold up in the heat
The size of the container is also a consideration. With large containers, soil blend is crucial as drainage can become an issue. Small containers tend to dry out quickly. Pots must have holes in the base for good drainage. If there are no drainage holes, consider layering the bottom of the container with a layer of pumice, perlite or coco coir and not repotting the plant but setting it in the container in its “grow” container.
Not all soil is the same! Ryan suggested a 50-50 mix of potting soil and cactus mix. Other amendments include perlite, pumice, or coco coir. He recommends Dr. Earth products for fertilizer, to be used once a month from March through October.
There is a wide variety from which to choose in several different categories. Here are just some of the choices available.
- Edible plants:
- Mediterranean Herbs – basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme
- Dwarf Citrus and Fruit Varieties – Bonanza Peach, Mexican Lime
- Annual or Perennial
- Native or Desert Adapted
- Succulents – all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti
- Haworthia and Gasteria varieties
- Aloe varieties
- Mammilaria varieties
- Heavy shade
- Sansevieria varieties
The most important consideration is drainage. It is critical to successful container gardening. Early morning is ideal as it allows for evaporation to occur. Avoid nighttime watering. As to frequency, there is no perfect answer; it will change throughout the year. A moisture meter can assist in determining when to water as it can reach the bottom of a container to determine soil moisture.
A period of question and answer followed the presentation. Ryan and his staff of plant experts are available to assist gardeners of all levels of expertise to success. Dig It Gardens is located at 3015 N. 16th Street in Phoenix. Class schedules can be found on their website.
Story by Bev Buddee
ASU Retirees Association
Mailing address: PO Box 873308, Tempe, AZ 85287
Physical address: Community Services Building Room 201, 200 E. Curry, Tempe, AZ