5 Things You MUST Do for Your Container Gardens

Container gardens are ideal for small spaces like patios and decks. They're easy to create, but it's important to keep these tips in mind to give your container garden a great life.

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1. Plant them in potting mix. Don't think you can just dig a hole in your yard and use that soil in your containers. Bad move: That dirt is too compacted. It doesn't offer enough air, nutrients, or moisture to support a container garden. Instead, buy a bag of potting mix that's lightweight and holds water better.

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2. Water your plants. Don't let pots dry out—it stresses the plants. Water in the morning or at night. If a plant is droopy, it's getting too much water. If it's shriveling, it's not getting enough. Feeling the soil is another good way to test whether your garden needs water. If the top inch or so layer of soil is dry, your container needs water.

3. Drain it. All containers need to have a few holes in the bottom to let extra water drain. Allowing too much water to build up in your container risks root rot. If your container doesn't have holes and you don't feel comfortable drilling new holes, put your plants in a slightly smaller container with holes. Add rocks or bricks to the bottom of the bigger container and set the smaller container on top.

4. Give it food. Mix some compost into the top couple inches of the container. Compost improves the texture of your soil, helping bind nutrients and moisture to aid in plant growth. You can also add some just-for-containers fertilizer every few weeks.

5. Remove dead flowers. Flowers fading? Pluck off the dead blooms to rejuvenate your plants and make them look better. This process, called "deadheading," will encourage new flowers to bloom in their place.

How to Choose the Right Pot for Your Container Garden

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