Flea Market Gardener’s guide to 9 successful types of garden containers
Flea Market containers can be a bit tricky to plant and care for…they’re not terracotta or plastic or stone. They’re often unusual, rusty, hanging or in a wooden box. Just take a look at what these gardeners have done!
We called for advice on growing flowers in Flea Market style containers…and you answered! There’s a wealth of experience out there and we could all benefit from some good tips on container gardens. Including using the containers we all love so much, recycled junktique ones!
- Galvanized containers Drill or poke holes in these for good drainage.
- Rusty containers Make sure to wear gloves when handling these! Rust is good for plants,…iron!
- Hypertufa containers These work fantastically for succulents and once made become lighter and lighter weight.
- Hanging baskets Moisture is the key. Use sphagnum moss, burlap or sheet moss and soil with moisture crystals.
- Tires Find, paint, and plant! Great for early tomatoes if left black.
- Tipsy pots Thread pots on a metal rod, then water slowly.
- Wooden containers Line with heavy plastic, stapled in, to preserve the wood. Punch holes where the drainage is.
- Rusty full-of-holes containers Line these with burlap, landscape fabric or plastic, simply to hold the dirt!
- Water-tight containers For containers that don’t have holes, ones you don’t want to drill holes in, there is a challenge. Plants need drainage. Tip: Jeanne Sammons says, “To ‘plant’ my large copper boiler, I put a couple terracotta pots upside down in the bottom & then I sat 2 larger pots on top of those … wadded up some chicken wire to fill in & then stuff some of that cocoa liner from hanging pots or whatever you have on hand.”
Jackie Greene The best tomatoes I ever grew were in a pot. I brought home a few big bags of the leaf mulch from the bush at the lake. I filled my pots with it and planted the tomatoes directly in it.
Jeanne Sammons I now have convinced myself that it’s OK to ‘buy’ DIRT …so I use Miracle Grow potting soil in most containers …I do not shovel it from my veggie garden or out from the field anymore. But I do recycle the old container potting soil into my composter and my composter gets emptied onto the flower and veggie gardens. container gardening except for finding someone to water for me when gone on vacations.
Terry Ray Last year I bought the expandable potting soil from Hyponex and with our drought, it worked very well, but this year I decided to recycle it by adding it to new potting soil. There is also water crystal product that you mix into the soil. When you water, the crystals absorb the water and expands. Worked very nicely in my raised herb garden.
Sharon Tomlinson and Pamela Stewart-Surette both use fillers for the bottom of their large pots to keep soil from falling through drain holes.
Phyllis Stedman Big pots that might get heavy with so much dirt…. I use plastic water bottle to fill in the bottom and it helps with drainage and keeping the pot from getting so heavy….recycle!!
Taking up space:
Jackie Greene Use the plastic Easter eggs from the Dollar Store in the bottom of big pots.
Stephie McCarthy I always line my containers with plastic bowls or big cups with small holes and they become an under-the-soil reservoir for roots. That way when I water, some of the water pools under the dirt, like a mini bog garden.
Try to see that your containers are not baking in direct sunlight.
I grow perennials and herbs in big containers and to make sure they come back in spring, I cover them with plastic cake domes, and things like that. What beauty these plants are once you take away the mini-greenhouse.
Paula Diaz If you have very large planters, fill the bottom part with empty nursery pots, plastic bottles, cardboard what ever is in your recycling bin- most annuals used in containers only really need 6-8″ of soil for their roots. Makes planters lighter to move and saves on potting soil to buy.
Debbie Page-Carr I use decorative rocks and pieces of wood and shells I’ve collected from rivers/creeks/beaches/hikes as “accent” pieces and then water on the accent piece … keeps water from digging a hole!
Pattie Knight I’ve used those flat marbles on top of dirt
Evelyn Frankovich I like to use pine needles as mulch. They let in water and air, and slowly decompose to add nutrients to the soil. I like the egg shell idea from Janet Walter; going to try it.
Jennifer Frantz Love using moisture control granules in containers, have to water less often.
Robin Valentine I use my washing water to water in summer. It’s great to do all the potsand the soap never did any harm to my plants. I use rain water tanks and watch water useage.
Karen Andrews Don’t forget good drainage. Drill holes in the bottom of your containers.
Starr Pease Living in a warmer climate in Southern California, my hanging baskets dry out quickly if it becomes windy. Saw a great idea. When assembling your hanging basket, place an unused, spread open, baby diaper between the moss and dirt. It absorbs water and keeps the plant roots hydrated.
Cynthia Hodges I generally have at least 15 or more pots of flowers on my deck and I go off for days at a time. My pots are in full sun. Recycle those plastic water and soda bottles! Pierce them with holes, all around, but not a lot, just about 5-7 holes… make them big enough not to be closed easily but not huge. An ice pick should do it. Bury them in the dirt in the pot next to where you are planting and put the cap on them. When you go away for a few days, fill the water bottle! Water leaches out for the root system.
Starr Pease Cynthia has the right idea. I experimented with small Tumbling Tom Tomatoes. In 3 of the pots, I stuck the drinking water bottles in upside down. Dug a hole in the center and buried them. Bur first, I drilled holes in the screw on lid and through the sides. The 3 planters with water bottles are doubled insize. Also, this is from a professional farmer in Massachusetts who had 7 industrial greenhouses: he uses Miracle Gro every week.
Donna Dunn has a new tip for growing herbs. She says,”After a few months herbs become root bond…take them out of the pot and cut the bottom half of the roots off and fill with new soil. I have done this with chives, parsley, thyme and basil so far and it gives them a new lease of life.”
Paula Diaz Most municipal water sources leach nutrients out of the soil. give a shot of coffee grounds to planters makes them perk up.
Laurie Linn I do as the greenhouses do. Fertilize every time I water with a very diluted amount of fertilizer. I use fish emulsion, 1 or 2 glugs in my three gallon waterer. Shake bottle of fish emulsion before using and have a stick or dowel to mix it in the water. Works great with tomatoes! I add a tablespoon of Epsom salts to my tomato pots to give them calcium.
Janet Walter Egg shells will work to keep animals and slugs out – they don’t like to crawl across the rough surface. My favorite tip for containers is the water crystals – sometimes hard to find but available on amazon.com if you can’t find locally. Really saves your big hanging baskets. Be sure to mix thoroughly in root area of the plants and below and water thoroughly so crystals have time to absorb.
Elaine Blaine Rocks as mulch keep the squirrels out also!
Best flowers for containers:
Petunias, Million bells, Bacoba, Alyssum, Thyme, Sedums, Echeveria, Geraniums, Lantana, Moss rose, lobelia, dahlias, impatiens and what else???
Thanks for all your tips and comments, now I feel more confident about succeeding with container growing, especially in my juntique containers. If you have an additional tip, not included here, please comment below! ~~ Sue
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