Vertical Gardening: Containers with Altitude
Gardening requires lots of water… most of it in the form of perspiration. - Lou Erickson
Don’t have much garden space? Want to grow tomatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, squash and just about any other kind of veggie on a vine? If so, consider vertical gardening.
Many plant supports, including trellises, nets, cages or stakes can be used to maximize your garden in small areas. Not only will you save valuable space, but growing container plants vertically can turn just about any nook or cranny into a beautiful garden spot.
Even if you have plenty of room, vertical gardens will help keep plants up off the ground. They can also be used to define landscaped areas, by creating interesting focal points and eye-pleasing boundaries. Advantages include:
• Fruits and flowers are less susceptible to pest damage.
• Cultivating and harvesting is easier.
• More plants can be grown with less space.
• Can be used as a privacy screen or to cover up unsightly views.
• Provides better air circulation, reducing fungal problems.
• Allows for more efficient watering.
• Yields are generally higher.
• Creates a shady spot in the garden.
• Monitoring and managing pests is easier.
Trellises for Potted Plants
Made from a collection of wires, bars or wooden slats (lattice), trellises are pretty nifty garden tools. They’re used for supporting and training plants and really help out when growing in smaller areas. My college apartment had very little gardening space (a deck and a wall), but I wanted to grow a fresh supply of vegetables. By employing trellises with my pots, I extended my tiny growing space and managed to have all the veggies I could eat plus a lot more for friends.
Many potted plants can be transformed from cascading creepers into “the-sky’s-the-limit” climbers when you give them a garden trellis to latch on to. Just make sure that it is firmly attached to your container and that the trellis is in proportion to the pot you are using.
Tip: Keep tall planters at the north end of your garden space so that shorter pots get plenty of sun.
Trellises can be purchased at most garden supply stores or you can make your own out of just about anything. I usually rig something up with whatever is available (willows work great!) and they often turn out looking pretty good too. One of the easiest trellises to make is three bamboo sticks tied together with some twine wrapped between them for extra plant support.
Stakes can be permanent fixtures in the pots of vining plants or used temporarily to hold young plants upright until their roots take hold. It is often the easiest method to use when providing extra support for plants.
To stake a plant, carefully work it into the soil mix near the plant’s stem. Tie the plant loosely to the stake, using garden twine or green twistie ties, and as it grows the plant will instinctively climb it. Voila!
Here are some tips and tricks to staking plants:
1.) Always be gentle when working around tender roots.
2.) Stakes are best set early in the spring so roots are not damaged later in the growing season.
3.) Do not pull the stem tightly up against the stake.
4.) Select the right sized stake for the job. (Sweet peas would be overpowered by a 2 x 4 stake while a bamboo stick wouldn’t support a dwarf apple.)
For more information about plant staking techniques click here.
When plant staking is done correctly, it not only saves valuable garden space, but can help make your containers look a whole lot better. It also improves plant health, which gives you more time to enjoy your gardens as opposed to maintaining them.