Tips on Choosing Containers for Houseplants
Many of us are fond of gardening… but not everyone (including me) is lucky enough to have a big house with a huge garden! We then turn to other alternatives to add some greenery to our place. Potted plants sure are a great way to add color, beauty and sometimes even fragrance to your house. But in our bid to have all or most of our favorite plants, we may buy more plants than can be placed comfortably in the limited space we have! Even those with a big garden sometimes prefer to pot their plants rather than planting them in the ground directly. The advantage is that you can re-arrange the plants at different times of the year to suit the requirements of the plant (sunlight, moisture, etc).
In any case, the wrong kind of container can cause your plants to stunt, or in the worst case, die out! One way to avoid this is to choose the right type of containers for your plants. Here is an easy-to-follow step-wise guide to help you select the right container for your plants.
Before Choosing Containers for your Plants
- Know your space. You can actually measure the space available in your balcony, on your window sill, etc., with a measuring tape.
- Decide the number of plants you want to keep in the space available to you.
- Select the plants you want to keep. Depending on the type of plants you want, you may need big or small containers. Also depending on the type of plant you choose to keep – a creeper, a cactus, a shrub, a small plant, etc. – the space required by each plant will vary. This will in turn affect the number of plants you can keep.
- Find out about the plant and what special care it needs. Know if you are going to be able to take care of it and nourish it properly. You do NOT want your plants to die – trust me, it feels really bad if they do! The requirements of your plant will also affect the kind of container you choose to house them in.
Choosing the Best Container for your Plants
Shrubs are naturally meant to grow on the ground. They tend to become quite big! If you want to pot your shrub, it would be advisable to choose a wide container. Growing shrubs in a container also calls for a lot of maintenance. If you are going to be able to give your shrub that much time, then nothing like it; for they are what gardening-enthusiasts call “space-fillers”. A nicely grown shrub can quickly add a lot of green. But they call for slightly more space and bigger containers than other house plants.
Fern tend to spread as they grow. Their leaves grow big and wide, and often fall delicately and gracefully outward from the plant. It would be good to choose a container of medium size to grow ferns. The container can be short, to allow the leaves to naturally “fall” from the container. Such ferns when kept on a pedestal look really beautiful. Alternatively, you can choose a tall container so that the leaves have enough height to fall down from.
Cacti are very hardy and hardly require any special care. Cacti can be grown in very small spaces and require really small containers as well! You can easily keep up to 6 or 7 potted cacti in a one foot by one foot patch! Choosing a container for cacti is hence very easy. Plastic containers are especially suitable for growing cacti.
Growing climbers in a pot can be quite tricky. The main concern here is to have enough room in the pot to include a support for the climber to climb on. Regular-sized containers can be used for climbers. They can grow well in earthen containers. The container need not be too big.
Grasses and Herbaceous Plants
Grasses and herbaceous plants usually call for slightly bigger-sized containers. One does not plant just a single grass bulb or tuber in a single pot. Depending on the number of bulbs or tubers going into one pot, you will have to take care the bulbs or tubers are not crowded and each has enough space to grow and fill the pot. At the same time, just a couple of bulbs/tubers in a big pot are going to leave the pot looking too big unnecessarily.
Choosing a container for flowering plants is probably the most difficult job! Flowering plants need quite a bit of maintenance. They need the right amount of water and air. Accordingly the soil used will differ, and the container too. Too compact or small a container may suffocate the plant, while too big a container may not allow water retention.
Some general points to be considered while selecting containers for your plants are the requirements on the plant, the space the plant is going to occupy when fully grown and the place in your house where you are going to keep the plant. Potted plants need considerations quite different from garden plants, which we may fail to realize sometimes. However, with these pointers, I am sure you will make the right choice! Happy gardening!