Fire - the first and most important container gardening tip I have for you is this: before any fantasy you may have for growing an orange trees on your porch or balcony, please make sure you know how many hours of direct sunlight that part of your 'container garden' receives each day. I find it very amusing when my clients begin a conversation with their dream of having a huge cascading bougainvillea blooming outside their window, except that the specific window is facing north and has a ten story building in front of it (more shade)... you got the idea... So figure out your fire element before deciding on your plants.
Let's move on :-)
Air - My second container gardening tip for you is this:
You have eight hours of direct sun, perfect! But, is it streaming in from behind a glass window, or shining directly onto your balcony? If it's direct, but you also live in a warm and windy place... that will have a huge impact on the plants you chose.
So consider the wind element.
Water - Needless to say, an important element in every way. And the question is: how do you water your container garden? Do you have an automatic watering system? or do you love pottering around and water your garden yourself? Either way is good, but both have an effect of your garden. The water elements should dictate not only the plants you chose, but also the type of containers you chose. Consider this: If you have a porch with 18 containers, each with a capacity of 100 liters and planted with thirsty plants, which you plan to water by hand... let's just say that's a lot of watering you'll be doing. Perhaps not a great idea? it's a huge commitment. On the other hand, using an automatic watering system on three pots of geraniums could be overkill... :-)
Earth - Yep, you guessed it, this one's about the soil. But, we're not there yet... before the actual soil, I want to talk what you put it in - earth marks the size and capacity of your containers and pots.
The pots and containers are like the wheels of your car, they bring everything together, floor > soil > plant. We've covered the other elements, and so you now know you can potentially achieve your dream of having an orange tree on your balcony ;) except that if you don't have the space for a container large enough to handle the tree's roots - then perhaps you should let it go. What I'm saying is this: Even if you could grow a tree on your balcony or porch... why would you? Consider your elements objectively, and take into account your available space, and then choose your plants.
Soil - make sure your container garden has the best drainage you can possibly give it. Good drainage is a basis for good gardens, and this is especially true with container gardening, which is why I usually chose to use light soil, it's better for drainage.
Design - See how I've covered all the elements in this beautiful urban style balcony:
Now go forth and use these container gardening tips in your own garden.
As a pruning enthusiast, I'm happy to report that there is a direct link between container gardening and pruning. I'm talking about pruning root. When you plant your container garden keep in mind that at some point you will need to renew your planters. With shrubs and trees especially, there will come a point where your plants will begin to suffer from lack of space, as their roots will have outgrown the container.... read all about it on this next page and get more important container gardening tips.
Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking.