Container gardening problems? Don’t people adopt container gardening to be free from gardening problems? Well yes. It is a fact that container gardening poses fewer problems than outdoor gardening but it has its peculiar sets of problems and one must be aware of these before adopting container gardening. Thorough knowledge of these problems and ways to prevent or overcome them will help you to reap the benefits of container gardening to the maximum.
Sometimes you will find that your plants start yellowing from the bottom, lacking vigor, and have poor color. The cause of all these problems is the supply of excessive water to the plants. The solution is to first check the drainage. Sometimes the drainage holes provided in the containers get clogged leading to waterlogging. If such is the case then clear the holes and do whatever is necessary to assure good drainage like repotting properly if necessary. If the drainage is alright then you have to reduce the watering intervals.
Another common container gardening problem is that the plants grow tall and spindly and are generally unproductive. There are no flowers or fruits. This problem occurs due to insufficient light reaching the plants. Plants need sufficient light to make their food by photosynthesis and grow well. When plants get insufficient light they tend to grow tall and spindly trying to reach the source of whatever light is available. Due to insufficient nutrition, they become unproductive.
The solution is to move the containers to a more lighted area or make arrangements so that they receive more light. This problem is also caused by too much nitrogen. In that case, reduce feeding intervals and check for proper drainage.
A container gardening problem that many people face is the burning of the leaves at the margins. They ‘die’ at the edges or turn dry and brittle. This problem is caused by the accumulation of salts in the container and high salt content in the soil is always harmful to most plants. As the accumulated salts are soluble in water the easiest way to remove them is to leach the containers by watering them with sufficient water so that the water flows out of the drainage holes taking away the accumulated salts. For this purpose, it is necessary to ensure good drainage from the containers. This should be done at regular intervals to prevent further accumulation of salts.
Sometimes you may find that the plants in your containers wilt although they are receiving sufficient water. Although plants wilt due to insufficient water the opposite is also true. They can also wilt when there is excess water at the roots due to poor drainage. As mentioned earlier make sure that the drainage holes are not clogged. The problem of wilting is also caused by poor aeration of the root system. To ensure proper aeration and good drainage use a mix with a higher percentage of organic matter in your containers. Increase the number of drainage holes if necessary.
When the growth of the plants is stunted and they look sickly and have a purplish color you have another type of container gardening problem. This is due to low temperatures in the area where the plants are located. Low temperatures also cause leaves with spots, dried dead areas, or rusty or powdery areas. This problem is easily solved by relocating the containers to a warmer area. These symptoms are also caused by low phosphate and it is remedied by increasing the phosphate level of the base solution. Sometimes there may be low fertility and the plants have poor color. This problem is easily remedied by increasing the fertility level of the base solution.
Holes in the leaves or leaves having distorted shapes indicate attacks by insects. Here prevention is also a part of the cure. When you obtain new plants wash them thoroughly to get rid of any pests or their eggs. This is one of the entry points of insects into your container garden.
Plant these new plants in clean growing media and are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized containers. Grow plants suitable for container gardening as healthy plants can better protect themselves against insects. If you have handled infected plants then wash your hands and tools thoroughly.
Monitor for insects and pests regularly. As you will need to water container plants daily you can utilize this time to inspect for pests also. Inspect the undersides of leaves also. Your treatment will be more effective if you can identify the insects or pests and understand their life cycle. This will help you to time your treatments correctly. The larger pests like caterpillars snails and slugs can be handpicked and removed. For smaller insects, you can use home remedies rather than insecticides.
Use rubbing alcohol for mealy bugs. These look like a cottony fuzz on the leaf joints and the undersides of leaves. Dip a cotton tipped stick in the alcohol and apply directly on the mealy bugs. They will disappear automatically and your plants will remain unharmed.
You can prepare an overall homemade insecticide with dishwashing liquid and cooking oil. Mix ¼ teaspoon of cooking oil and ½ teaspoon of a mild dishwashing liquid and one quart warm water, a small spray bottle, and spray it on the plants as well as the undersides of leaves every ten days using a fine mist so that the plants are thoroughly wet. This will effectively control mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, thrips, and other chewing or sucking insects.
By following the above methods for identifying and combating container gardening problems you can keep your container garden fresh, healthy, and productive at all times.