I live in a historic building that is divided into four apartments. My neighbors upstairs and down are all great friends, my landlord can really pick some nice people as tenants. Historically the downstairs tenants, of which I am one, have had plants on the front porch. We have flowers and vegetables, in limited numbers, as we need to grow the plants in pots. People walk past our porch and are fascinated with the plants and how well they do on the porch. The other day a group of young photographers was walking down the street and one of them took pictures of the contrast between the porch and some of my hot peppers, I was very proud.
My downstairs neighbor Kevin and I have some sunflowers and geraniums in the flower department and in the vegetable department we have tomatoes and hot peppers. All of the plants grew very well for us, but the clear bumper crop was our hot peppers. We grew these in plastic pots, the varieties we have include habaneros, cherry peppers and Tabasco peppers. They are all really hot and will spice up our menus all winter long. Everyone walking by or sitting out there enjoys the plants and is surprised how well things grow in these pots.
So, here are some suggestions about growing plants in plastic pots:
- If you start plants from seeds start them in the winter and that way the plants will be big enough for the pots in the spring. If you start several different varieties mark them so you know what they are, small pepper plant and small tomato plants all look the same regardless of variety.
- Don’t rush getting the plants outside because a late frost will kill a young plant. If you do put them out and you hear of a frost coming cover them with a plastic bag or another flower pot or bring them indoors, to protect the plant, over night.
- We are talking about plastic pots here, they are light, easy to store and inexpensive. Most will have drainage holes and a built in under tray that will keep a little water at the bottom of the pot which is OK.
- Put stones in the bottom of the pot and make sure the pot has drainage holes for water to drain out. You can put water in the pot and see if it drains before you put the soil and plant in. This way you don’t have to find out the hard way that it doesn’t have drainage.
- If you have no drainage or holes in the pot, you could drill holes in the pot to create drainage. If you don’t want to do this be careful because if there is no drainage your plant will sit in a pool of water and the roots could rot and the plant will die.
- Get good soil, Miracle Grow that retains moisture worked really well for us. It has fertilizer and other additives that will make the plants grow healthy and strong. Miracle Grow or a better soil costs a little more but it is well worth it.
- Putting the plants in the pots. Whether you are using plants you started from seeds indoors or plants that you have purchased, put the stones in the bottom of the pot. Now, add enough soil to the pot for your plant and the dirt it has around it to sit at the level that will be the final surface level of dirt and soil in the pot. Now, add soil around the dirt that was around the plant. Bring the dirt of the plant and soil you are adding to the same level, gently packing them down. Water the plant a little and the soil will settle, add some more of the soil and repeat this process till the surface level of the soil remains the same throughout the pot.
- Watering is important, don’t over or under water. If you have good drainage, water will drain out of the pot, but enough will stay in the soil and the roots to hydrate the plant. On very hot sunny days plastic pots heat up the soil, and will actually dry out the soil making the leaves and vegetables or flowers droop. A certain amount of this is OK, but generally when the days are hot you will probably need to water every day.
- Enjoy the plants and eat the vegetables as they grow, when the peppers are ready hang them up and dry them out for use throughout the winter.
- When the season is over empty the pots of the soil, recover the stones that were in the bottoms of the pots to use next season. If you have some of the same size pots stack them inside one another and continue putting smaller and smaller pots into larger ones to conserve storage space. Put these away for the winter in a safe dry place. Don’t store plastic pots outside as water will get in them and freeze, the expanding will split the plastic pots and you will need to buy new ones when you want to plant next spring.