A great way to pull yourself out of the winter slump is to start thinking about container gardening for your patio or balcony when spring arrives. Central Ohio is in zone 6, which means you can start planting after the last frost, which occurs around mid-March. It’s safe to keep plants outdoors until mid-November; however, given unpredictable Midwest weather, you’ll want to play it by ear. You can use practically anything as a planter as long as you allow for proper drainage, which in some cases, may mean drilling holes in the bottom of the vessel, or adding a special medium to allow excess water to escape.
You will also need to factor in the daily sun exposure your patio or balcony gets each day and plan accordingly. Fortunately, the selection of shade-loving plants continues to increase each season as new varieties are introduced. For even more incentive to become a container gardener, there are recommendations for planting a pollinator container garden. Do double duty; enjoy the beauty of flowering plants while simultaneously fostering the bee population. Another tip is that bright pink and red flowers attract hummingbirds if you don’t want to deal with the maintenance of a special hummingbird feeder.
You can enjoy tender, leafy baby greens without having to pay supermarket prices. Plant lettuce, arugula, and kale, along with radishes in the early spring and harvest them in just a few weeks. Unless you start seedlings in your apartment, most nurseries and other stores don’t start putting out herb plants until April. Basil, mint, parsley, chives, and lavender all do well outdoors in zone 6. However, don’t bother with cilantro. It’s fiddly and difficult to grow in this climate. You can grow all of the other ingredients for a salsa garden in containers, though – bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
There are plenty of flowers that do well in containers in Central Ohio. Choose petunias, marigolds, dahlias, dianthus, salvia, and begonias. All of these varieties thrive in varying degrees of sunlight, are low maintenance, and also fare quite well in hanging baskets. Just mix in some trailing ivy, dusty miller, coleus, or sweet potato vines to create a balanced, eye-catching arrangement.
Some flowering plants mentioned above, such as lavender and salvia attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. When choosing flowering plants specifically for pollination, choose varieties that are nectar-rich, such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, lantana, and verbena. You can consult with gardening center staff, your local conservation society, or search online for suggestions.
Thinking about reactivating your green thumb can brighten up dreary winter days and give you something to look forward to. In the meantime, you can scour flea markets and thrift shops for interesting containers and start planning your floral color scheme or edible harvest. Growing plants gives you a sense of accomplishment, especially if you can give back to nature by nurturing vulnerable species such as bees.
Gardening in your new VC Apartment
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