Container gardening is perfect for beginning gardeners because you can control the soil (and other variables, such as light condition) more easily than you can with a traditional garden. However, you must be sure to carefully prepare your soil for container plants.
Soil texture and fertility are very important in containers; your plants have to depend on what's in the pot for their necessary moisture and nutrients. They can't send their roots out farther, looking for more. And they can't escape rotting if they are trapped in soggy conditions.
The correct soil depends on varied factors such as the type of plant and the climate and exposure of the site. Most gardeners avoid pests and diseases in their pots by using bagged products, but you can use your own compost if you really trust it.
For most plants, choose a commercial mix prepared for potted plants. If it has been formulated without additional fertilizer, mix in time-release fertilizer beads according to package directions. Or mix your own potting soil with a third each of loam, peat moss or compost, and perlite, incorporating time-release fertilizer.
Gel granules (for keeping soil moist) can also be stirred in. For plants that need especially good drainage, such as narcissi, tulips, cyclamen, and others with bulbous roots, add plenty of extra perlite in the mix, and top the pots with tiny pebbles or a quarter-inch layer of perlite.
Looking for more information about gardening? Try these:
- How to Start a Garden: Find out how to get your garden started.
- Garden Soil Tips: Learn everything you need to know about your garden's soil.
- Vegetable Garden Soil: Learn how to prepare, test, and fertilize soil for a successful vegetable garden.
- Container Gardens: Learn how to grow and nurture container plants.
- Gardening: Learn the basics of successful gardening.