Any vessel able to hold soil and stand up to the weather is a potential planter. Strewing your garden with weatherworn accessories helps create the feel of a rustic cottage garden. All you’ll need to do is drill or cut a few drainage holes (unless the item’s base has conveniently rusted out). It doesn’t matter how big or small your quirky vessel is, there’s a plant to suit. So raid your garden shed, kitchen cupboard or local resource recovery centre and get planting!
Pick your potting mix
When you grow plants in any sort of container, the quality of the potting mix often determines growing and flowering performance. You’ll find specialty potting mixes such as for orchids, succulents, bonsai, as well as general mixes, so match to your plant if you’ve chosen a particular type.
Buy a brand you trust and, if you’d like to improve its drainage and lengthen its life, mix it with washed river sand at the rate of one part sand to two parts potting mix. Blend the two together thoroughly, along with a ration of controlled release fertiliser before adding to the container. How much fertiliser to add depends on the size of the pot, so always check the packet for dosage rates.
Keep making a scene
No points for guessing this: water and food are essential ingredients for plants living in containers. If a heatwave threatens, water in the morning and move them into shade. Water again in the evening. During normal weather conditions, feel the soil down to your first finger joint – water when it’s starting to feel dry to the touch. If it’s moist, you don’t need to water.
If you apply a controlled release fertiliser at planting time, in theory you won’t need to feed again for several months (check the packet for details). However, if plants start to yellow, feed them with a fast-acting soluble fertiliser, such as Thrive or Miracle-Gro, then give them another dose of controlled release fertiliser at the next recommended interval.
Tip: Make at least one drain hole, the size of a 10-cent piece, in the base, or several smaller holes. If drilling metal, ceramic or glass, you’ll need a special drill bit designed for the purpose. Always wear safety goggles, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt when drilling.