Container Gardening

When we moved into our condo, it was August. In the South, August is when all but the most fanatic gardeners have given up and retreated to the comfort of air-conditioning to await the cooler weather of fall. It was not a time to be working outside.

When you live in a house that you own (as opposed to renting), you have your own land and can pretty much plant what you want. When you live in an apartment, you can’t do anything, so it’s never an issue. In a condo, however, the land on which your unit is built is owned jointly by all members. This was a new concept to me. Looking around, I didn’t see anyone else planting their yard, so I was unsure how acceptable it would be. Maybe it wasn’t allowed, or maybe they just didn’t want to. But I still missed my garden and wanted to plant SOMETHING.

In Italy and France, I had seen window boxes overflowing with flowers, clay pots of flowers crowding steps and balconies of houses and apartments alike. I had a patio in back. Even though it was part of the commons, I thought of it as “mine.” Growing in containers seemed an easy first step.

My patio with newly planted containers

My patio with newly planted containers

I bought some large unglazed clay pots and potting soil. Clay pots are porous and moisture can evaporate through the sides. This can be both good and bad. If you tend to over-water your plants, an unglazed pot is more forgiving as it will wick water away from the potting soil (which holds water like a sponge). However, this means that clay pots dry out faster and may need watering more frequently. When choosing pots for outdoor planting, be sure to get them large enough. If the pot is too small, it dries out quickly because you only have a small rootball trying to provide moisture to a large plant.

Originally, I went with clay pots because I loved the rustic look, but over the winter, some of them cracked and had to be replaced. If the pot was wet (as flower pots often are) and the temperature went below freezing, the water in the porous clay would freeze and expand. Sometimes the pots cracked, sometimes they would lose flakes. At first, I didn’t mind the flaking, it made the pots look older, worn, rustic. But eventually, it weakened the pots and they had to be replaced. I reluctantly replaced the clay with terracotta colored plastic. They were lighter and cheaper than clay and have lasted many years.

Many of the pots came with no drainage. Those that did have a drain hole, had only one. Since there would be no evaporation through the sides, I had to get out my drill and a large diameter bit (around a three-quarter inch) and drill additional holes for drainage. Some of the pots had feet that raised the bottom off the concrete and allowed for better drainage. I bought a couple of really big pots that sat flat on the ground. I found some terracotta “feet” at Home Depot that went under the edge of the pot and held it off the ground. They were a little on the expensive side, but they looked better than just sticking a brick under the pot.

To be continued…


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kaelovinlife on May 3, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    great post. i love writing about gardening, as well. stop by my page sometimes. *kae*


    • Posted by condogarden on May 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

      Thank you Kae.

      I visited your site…

      … sigh… so much room, so much sun…

      The reason I started my blog is because I’ve been struggling for many
      years with the limitations of gardening in a condominium. I just don’t
      have the space or the light to grow what I want.

      I made the mistake of visiting a number of other garden blogs. I got
      such a serious case of envy that I had to close the browser.

      Anyway, you have a lovely site.




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