Portable Gardens

June 12, 2009 7 Comments

Or more accurately, patio gardening or small space gardening, however you want to look at it.  KWWL’s Jamie Grey asked about what she could grow on her small patio.  Any size of pot is acceptable, but if you have a balcony, you should know what the maximum load of the balcony is.  Dirt, especially wet dirt, can get very heavy.  Generally, you probably want to stay away from the whiskey barrel size and keep it smaller. Something you can move on your own should be a good size.

Plants in pots tend to dry out faster than those in the ground, so you will have to keep up on the watering of patio plants.  Keep the plants dead-headed.  That means that when the flower dries up or starts to die off, cut it off, snap it off or pull it off… whatever works.  This will allow the plant to put it’s energy into producing more flowers and leaves.  If you leave the dead flower head on, the plants goes into seed production and the plant thinks it is at the end of it’s life and will die back soon.

Potted plants need a lot of fertilizer as well.  Potting mixes tend to lose their nutrients quickly so you will want to make sure that you use a water soluble fertilizer and apply about every two weeks.  Follow all label directions carefully.

Be aware of your sunlight requirements.  Tomatoes need a lot of sunlight, so a shady patio or balcony would not be a good place for tomatoes.

We have some potted plants on our patio,

This one is in memory of Dwayne's cousin Michael.  Michael had one similar to this at his house.

This one is in memory of Dwayne's cousin, Michael. Michael had one similar to this at his home.

on our deck

These are most of our pots on our deck.

These are most of our pots on our deck.

and even a couple in the garden. 

Potted plant in garden

Potted plant in garden

Potted plants, among others

Potted plants, among other plants


The pots raise the level of some plants and, if the pot isn’t too big, we can move it around if it doesn’t work where it is.  Many people living in apartments don’t have that luxury, but you can still enjoy beautiful color. 

When planning on what to plant in your patio garden, make sure you plan on the watering requirements of each plant.  Every year we get petunias and every year we over water them, mainly because we put them with other plants that need more water. 

This is the whiskey barrell that we planted with petunias and other annuals this year.

This is the whiskey barrell that we planted with petunias and other annuals this year. Keep looking... they're in there.

You would think we would learn.  Maybe next year!

Last year we had parsley in our strawberry pot.  One day I noticed some caterpillars on them.  We watched them for a couple of days.  That was all it took for them to eat the parsley to nothing.  After that we didn’t see them.  We like to think that they moved on to the next buffet, but it is possible that when they ate all of the parsley the birds had a better look at them.  They turned out to be Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars.  Apparently, parsley is one of the host plants for the Tiger Swallowtail.  This year we have parsley in two pots and three plants in the ground in the main garden. 

We have had some luck in overwintering the potted plants in our garage for the last couple of years.  We don’t do the barrel, of course, but we will try almost everything else.  A couple of years ago we had four mums that we wrapped with several layers of towels and put in the garage.  I put a little water on them once a month and when spring came around three of them were growing.  The fourth one tried, but it didn’t amount to too much.  This last year, we tried it with oregano, thyme and cilantro.  The cilantro didn’t look good, but it may have come around if we had let it sit a little longer, but I think it was too cool in the early spring.  The thyme looked a little peaked but it is now flowering so that all the bees can enjoy it, and the oregano looks great!  So this year we will try it with all the other ones as well.

You can pretty much do whatever you want with potted plants.  Just put plants together with the same watering needs, make sure they have the right lighting they need and keep up on the dead heading.  The wonderful people at your local nursery will be happy to help you out and give you great suggestions. 

Have fun with your pots!

Dig it!

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  1. Phyllis says:

    Your flower garden’s are so beautiful. Does your hubby help take care of some? Alot of work. Do you have bird’s in all the bird houses?
    I bought potting soil that was wet can I add anything to it so the soil doesn’t get so hard? does it dry out faster than other soil?

  2. Brouke says:

    Interesting article. I did not know you should cut off the dead parts of a plant.

  3. eloan says:

    Phyllis, I have bought wet potting soil before, too. It seems to be fine once you take it out of the bag. You might want to leave the bag open for awhile to see if it will dry out a bit. And I haven’t seen anything specific about drying out faster, but I sure think it does. I’m not sure if it is the actual mix or the fact that it is in a pot and the air movement around the pot helps dry things out. Probably the latter. Happy Gardening!

  4. Jamie Grey says:

    Hey Eileen! Thanks for the blog 🙂 Much appreciated. I’ll let you know how it goes… and perhaps send you a picture!

  5. Phyllis says:

    Question or two. Does coffe grounds and cold coffee really help roses to grow and bloom? Also how can I get grass out of my rock gardes with out digging it up?
    It is to hard for me to get down and up anymore. Tks

  6. Garden Grrrl says:

    I love that blue pot. What a great color! I have been growing herbs and greens on my shady patio. It’s lovely to be able to snip a few fresh herbs to go into our dinner.

  7. eloan says:

    Garden Grrrl: Thanks!I got the blue pot at a nursery center in Cedar Rapids. They had one that was a little darker, but this was perfect for the sweet potato vines that we wanted to put in them. And it goes great against the burgundy color of the Ninebark that we have it near.

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