Container Gardening 2 – What Goes into the Pot?

By Elizabeth Cornell Fake, Fairfax Master Gardener
In Part 1 of this series on container gardening, we looked at choosing suitable pots, taking into account site, size and style. (See Container Gardening.) The next step — and the focus of this article — is what to put into the container. While container-gardening websites and blogs offer an infinite amount of advice on the subject, here we will look at the importance of drainage and soil.

Drainage

holes in pot

Drainage holes are essential to container gardening

Say you have selected a tall, ceramic pot with good thermal insulation for a full-sun site. Looking down into your empty pot, think about drainage first. Normally your container will have a 1-inch hole in the center of the bottom. The drainage hole allows surplus water to drain out of the pot, creates air circulation and keeps the plant roots from drowning in too much water. If your pot doesn’t have a hole, make one by drilling a small hole in the bottom. If you are using a liner inside another container, make sure the liner has holes in the bottom.

Many container gardeners insist they need some kind of fine gravel, clay shards or foam peanuts in the bottom of the pot to allow for proper drainage. But if you observed the process, you would see that water flows easily through fine ma