How to Fill a Container Planter

20 Jun

The planters I recently made were quite large and required a lot of soil.

In order to buy less dirt, save money and improve water filtration in the container I implemented one of my grandmother’s old gardening tricks of using empty plastic milk cartons (gallon size) at the bottom of large gardening pots.  I didn’t have milk cartons so instead substituted using layers of plastic water bottles.

Two layers of used empty plastic water bottles were laid directly on top of each other.  The caps were left on the bottles so that they don’t fill up with dirt. The bottle layers allow water to filter through to the bottom drains that were previously drilled at the base of the planters.

Since dirt is heavy and can become compact at the bottom, the water bottles help keep things light and flowing.

A layer of potting soil was used to completely cover water bottles.

There are probably lots of arguments and opinions regarding the best type of potting soil and mixing components. I chose a simple method using premium potting soil, perlite and plant food.    So far things are going great and the plants are thriving.

A mixture of approximately 80% potting soil and 20% perlite was used to fill the entire container leaving enough room to insert plants.

Perlite is a white and pictured below. It retains moisture longer yet at the same time provides good drainage.  It is also lighter than soil and and won’t compact as the season goes on.

Then I mixed in plant food (Miracle Gro Shake n’ Feed pellets) to accommodate surface area according to directions.

The food was mixed in well with the soil and the final results of all three components looked like this:

Plants were then inserted and bases covered well with dirt.

The final step was to water the plants well.

Now I just need to wait for them to grow and also try to remember to check daily for water needs.  :) Unlike plants grown in the ground, container plant roots can’t move down deeply in search of subsurface water so it’s important to make sure they are adequately watered.

If you want to read about how the planters with rollers pictured here were built, please check out tutorial.

Do you have any gardening secrets you can share with us?   :)

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7 Responses to “How to Fill a Container Planter”

  1. Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons June 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    genius!

    • Angie & Carrie June 20, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

      Jenn, BFF!! How are you? The new house is looking quite lovely!! xoxo Angie

  2. Karen June 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    What a great idea :-) I use styrofoam “peanuts” in pots for drainage and to save on soil. Also…………….. :-) I had inquired last month about the Louis Dreyfus coffee sacks and was checking to see if you had found any. Thanks so much.

    • Angie & Carrie June 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

      Hi Karen, I was JUST thinking about those coffee bags today!! I still need my husband to move some things in the garage so that I can reach them. Don’t worry—I have NOT forgotten and will get back with you as soon as I am ever successful in sweet talking him to finally do this for me :) Styrofoam peanuts!!?? Amazing idea! I just threw a bunch of these away awhile back. Geez…I am NEVER going to throw away anything anymore. It seems like everything can be saved and used for something these days. Thanks for the idea. I am definitely adding peanuts to my next planter also! :)

  3. Karen June 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Angie & Carrie ~ Thanks so much :-) After I left the comment, I forgot to add that by adding the peanuts in the bottom of your planter – it also makes the planter lighter :-)
    Blessings to you both

  4. Cathy July 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Hi,
    These are such a great idea! You make it look so simple!
    I balcony garden and we can’t attach anything to the railings. I have arthritis and find bending over my planters quite difficult. These boxes should make things much easier as they move and are somewhat raised. Another thought I had was to buy a kids pool (like a turtle pool – usually bright blue and somewhat hard-sided) and build a base for it to raise it. I never thought about adding casters.
    Another thing you can put in the bottom of pots to make them lighter is the cell-packs that plants come in – just scrunch them up and throw them in. Also, can use 4″ or 6″ plant pots (the cheapies) – put them in upside down.
    Good luck with all your gardening.

  5. Gina Marie March 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Such a great idea. Thank you. I have had better than expected results with my mrstacky strawberry planter. So great for small spaces too. I also love rareseeds.com for excellent organic heirloom quality seeds. They have a great selection. Can’t wait to get my NJ garden going. I even grow my own non gmo seedlings with my aero grow garden. Love it all. Enjoy!

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