Container Soils and Fertilizers
Having the proper soil or planting media to fill your containers with is important to having healthy plants. The soil found in your garden may be great for growing flowers and vegetables in the ground, but if you transfer it to a container, it is not likely to produce the desired results. This is because garden soil cannot provide enough air, water, or nutrients once it is transferred to a container.
If you have enough soil in your garden and that is what you’d like to use to fill your containers, you must first amend it. This means adding substances to the soil that will increase breathability, aeration, and nutrient content. A good ratio is to mix one part garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or vermiculite.
The thing to keep in mind with this mixture is that it may already contain pests and diseases. If you are going to use this mixture, it is recommended to never bring this inside your house- it may affect your indoor plants.
You can buy potting soil at our garden store in large or small bags depending on your need. Potting soil comes in a variety of mixtures and can contain both organic and inorganic material. Organic material is anything that comes from something that is or was alive. Examples of these types of materials are peat moss, sphagnum moss, and coir. Inorganic materials are mined or man-made. Examples of these are perlite, vermiculite, sand, and lime. You can purchase different mixes that are specifically geared towards growing certain types of plants. These are generally high-quality mixes that your plants will thrive in.
The potting soil that you purchase at your local garden centre may or may not be sterilized. If it is not, there is a chance that it may contain pests or disease and these mixes are only recommended for outdoor use.
Because of the limited amount of soil that is in a container, you will have to replenish nutrients in the soil to keep your plants healthy throughout the season. You can use an all purpose fertilizer or you can choose one made specifically for the types of plants you are growing.
It is often a good idea to mix slow release fertilizer in with your potting medium before planting. As the name suggests, this type of fertilizer releases its nutrients slowly into the soil so the plant gets a continual supply of the nutrients it needs. This type of fertilizer does not last indefinitely and needs to be reapplied or supplemented with another type of fertilizer. If you purchase a pre-planted basket or container from your local garden centre there is a good chance that this kind of fertilizer has already been added. Ask if you are not sure.
Water soluble fertilizer is probably the most common type of fertilizer. It can come in either liquid or granular form and is mixed with water prior to watering your plants. You should always follow the directions for use as noted on the package.
Water Absorbent Polymer
Another substance that you may see already in pre-mixed potting soil is water absorbent polymer. These are crystals that absorb water and slowly release it as the other water evaporates from the surrounding soil. These types of polymers can greatly reduce the amount of times you have to water. If you mixed your own potting mix, you can buy these polymers separately from our garden store.