Beds verses pots?
Good question. If you have really nice soil plants in the ground will out grow plants in pots most of the time, unless of course your potting soil is perfect. If the potting soil is less than perfect, the plants in pots will be slower growing. (My Potting Soil Recipe)
For years it has been my contention that plants in beds will out grow plants in pots and I usually say that because most people don’t have their potting soil exactly where it should be when starting out so bed planting makes more sense until you get you potting soil in good shape.
This year we potted up a bunch of Potentilla but I stuck about 10 of them in a landscape planting to use as stock plants. The plants in the pots are far out growing the ones that I planted in the bed. Why? Potting soil must 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 into the soil? Have we kept the plants in the pots watered 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 claim.
So here’s my conclusion as of today.
In most cases if the soil in your yard is good plants in beds will out grow plants in pots. Unless your potting soil is near perfect.
Plants in pots need a lot more water. A lot more water!
Plants in pots are much easier to care for and keep weed free because you can pack them together then spread apart as needed. Once the plants fill out the pot the 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 window of time to do so is pretty small. Digging season starts after Thanksgiving and ends about 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 you plant in the ground, mulch the beds. This spring we put a lot of time, energy, effort and money into mulching all of our Japanese maple beds. What a difference. Weeds starting showing up in the isles weeks before the mulched beds and we used a pre-emergent herbicide over the entire area. The mulch helped the plants, it really helped with weed control, and I believe it carried the pre-emergent better than the soil.
Plants in the ground or in the field have to be close enough together to make weed control manageable, and even then, you’ll spend a lot of time “managing those weeds”.
Are you one of the many people that are trying to grow and sell plants without having to buy my system?
If so, I wish you the absolute best and I’d like to offer you this additional free advice that will help you.
Mistakes are costly and information is cheap.
I could write a book on the mistakes that I made that have cost me thousands of dollars. Last spring I made a mistake that cost me $1,000. That’s right, a quick, cool one thousand dollars out the window because I did something dumb. In that particular case the difference between success and failure was somewhere between one and two inches. Can you believe that? It’s true. I could have easily made $5,000 and instead I lost $1,000 because I was off by one inch.
Like I said, really, really good information is cheap.
See, here’s the deal. You are going to spend the money one way or another. If you spend it up front, you reach your goal a lot sooner.