container gardens
Soil Mixtures and Planting

To a great extent, the success of the container garden depends on proper soil. You can have good results with soil taken directly from the garden, but even better if you take time to prepare a proper mixture. This control of soil is where growing plants in containers has an advantage over gardening in the open ground.

Soil mixtures can also be purchased at nurseries and garden centers with special kinds available for acid-loving plants (azaleas, camellias, and gardenias) for ferns and begonias, and for cacti and other succulents. If you live in a city where garden soil is not easily obtainable or if you grow only a few plants, it is practical to buy a prepared mixture.


A ll-Purpose

   2 parts good garden loam
   1 part sand
   1 part peatmoss or leafmold or other humus
   1 teaspoon bonemeal for each 5-inch pot of mixture (5-inch potful to each bushel)

For Acid-Lovers (Azaleas, Camellias, Gardenias, Heathers, etc.)

   2 parts good garden loam
   2 parts sand
   2 parts acid peat
   1 part leafmold
   1/3 part old manure or 1/2 part dehydrated manure

For Fine-Root Plants (Begonias, Ferns, African Violets, Gloxinias, Christmas and Orchid Cacti, etc.)

   2 parts good garden loam
   2 parts sand
   2 parts leafmold or peatmoss
   1/2 part old manure or 1/2 part dehydrated manure

For Bulbs (Hyacinths, Daffodils, Tulips)

   2 parts good garden loam 1 part sand
   1 part leafmold or peatmoss 5 inch pot of bonemeal for each bushel

For Cacti and Succulents

   2 parts good garden loam
   2 parts sand
   1/2 part leafmold or peatmoss
   5 inch pot of bonemeal for each bushel
   5 inch pot of finely ground limestone for each bushel

For Orchids and Bromeliads

   6 parts Osmunda fiber
   1 part of 1/2 -inch charcoal

The container should be filled with 1/3 drainage material. If Osnlunda fiber is not available, use equal parts peatmoss, sand and granulated charcoal.


When you are ready to mix ingredients, be sure the soil is damp and workable. To determine this, take a handful, squeeze it and allow it to drop. If water comes out, it is too wet; if it breaks apart, it is too dry. But if the lump of soil retains its shape or cracks just a little when it is dropped, it is in good condition to work.

Be certain containers are clean when you start. Soak used or new clay pots overnight so they will not draw moisture from soil after planting. Clean dirty clay pots with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water.

Though redwood, cedar, and cypress containers may be left natural, they may also be stained or painted. First clean the surfaces then apply one or two coats of stain or paint. Let dry completely before planting. Concrete, metal, plastic, fiberglass, and similar materials all need cleaning.