What Can I Use Instead Of Mulch In Flower Beds Plants in Pots Verses Plants in Beds or in the Field

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Plants in Pots Verses Plants in Beds or in the Field

Beds verse pots?

Good question. If you have really good soil, ground plants will grow in pots most of the time, unless your potting soil is perfect. If the potting soil is not perfect, potted plants will grow more slowly.

I’ve said for years that plants in beds will outgrow pots and I usually say that because most people don’t have potting soil exactly where it should be to begin with, so planting in beds makes more sense until you get the potting soil in good shape.

I made a lot of mistakes. Learn from them.

This year we planted a bunch of Potentillas in pots, but I stuck about 10 of them into the landscape to use as foundation plants. The plants in the pots are growing much better than the ones I planted in the flower bed. Why? The potting soil needs to be pretty close to what it should be, and the plants in the bed are small and mulched with 3″ of bark mulch. Not enough roots in the soil? Are we watering the potted plants more consistently than the ones in the bed? Probably.

I don’t know for sure, but as soon as I draw a conclusion about something, I see something that makes me contradict my earlier statement.

So here is my conclusion for today.

In most cases, if the soil in your yard is good, potted plants will not grow in containers. Unless your potting soil is near perfect.

Potted plants need a lot more water. A lot more water!

Potted plants are much easier to maintain and weed because you can pack them together and then spread them out as needed. Once the plants fill the container, weeds don’t have much room to grow.

Plants in the ground? It takes a lot of calories (energy) to get plants out of the ground, and the time frame for that is quite short. The digging season begins after Thanksgiving and ends in mid-April in zones 5 and 6. Other zones are similar, but the window is longer in the far north and shorter in the south.

If planting in the ground, mulch the beds. This spring we invested a lot of time, energy, effort and money in mulching all our Japanese maple beds. What a difference. Weeds started appearing in the islands weeks before the beds were mulched and we used a pre-emergent herbicide over the entire area. The mulch helped the plants, it really helped control the weeds and I believe it carried what was pre-emergence better than the soil.

Plants in the ground or in the field must be close enough together to control weeds, and even then you will spend a lot of time “managing those weeds.”

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