In the Garden:
Tropical South
May, 2004
Regional Report

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Porches and patios are great places for all sorts of container gardens, which also mix well throughout the in-ground plantings.

Container Gardening in Florida

Like many types of gardening, growing in containers also is different in Florida than in other parts of the country. Some plants can last forever here in pots, so we come to expect all of them to, and many won't. Annuals either bloom themselves to death or the change of season does them in. Perennials need pruning, and inevitably some plants in a mixed combination need replacing. Many trees and shrubs DO grow well in containers for years, sometimes blooming or bearing fruit sooner than the same plants in the ground.

Many Advantages
There are so many good reasons for growing some plants in containers in Florida that many of us are doing it even more than we realize. For years container gardening was synonymous with houseplant growing to me, and at that I was terrible. So I developed a mind-set that container gardening is more difficult than in-ground gardening.

But recently a gardening friend looked over my front yard and said, "I count 20 containers of plants in your garden between the front door and the mailbox. What do you mean you don't do as well with containers as you do growing in the ground?"

It's true. Container gardening has been sneaking more and more into my garden evolution ever since I moved here. Here's why:
1. Containers give better control of soil, drainage, nematodes, pests. Much of the time she provides the water, and good drainage in the pot prevents overwatering. There are fewer pests because the plants are less stressed, and pests are often taken care of by their natural enemies or washed off by rain or watering.
2. Outside we have Mother Nature's help with plenty of the humidity plants love.
3. At any time of the year you can move containers to more sun or more shade as needed.
4. Plants that are marginally hardy can be more easily moved or covered on frosty nights.
5. Plants in pots don't get crowded out as easily by more robust neighbors.
6. Containers allow us to grow more plants in less space.
7. Until in-ground plantings fill in, we can place container plantings in the garden to make it more showy.
8. Containers have great spotlight potential that in-ground plants do not offer.
9. Plants in containers are closer to the eye and the nose so both flowers and fragrance are more noticeable.
10. Plants can grow in colorful or clever containers, often in something like an old toy wagon or wheelbarrow that would otherwise be discarded. Unusual containers add new dimensions of interest and creativity to the garden or patio. The possibilities are endless.


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