Starter plants are a great option if you are new to gardening or live in an area with a short growing season. Usually, I plant up a GreenStalk Vertical Planter with some seeds and some starter plants so you can definitely mix and match. In this post, I’m going to do a step-by-step guide to planting starter plants and how to grow them vertically.
First things first, you need plants! Go to your local garden center and select edibles or flowers that you want to grow. Be mindful of the container size. Six packs or 3-4″ pot sizes will work best for transplanting into your Vertical Planter. Anything bigger and you will need to do some maneuvering to get them to fit into the pocket. For a three tier you’ll need at least 18 plants, a four tier will need 24 or more plants and a five tier can hold a minimum of 30 plants. Refer to your instruction book or this post to learn more about how many plants you can grow per pocket.
If you don’t plant your starter plants right away or if they are a little dry when you get them, give your plants a good soak. You don’t want your plants to be stressed when you plant them – really, you don’t ever want your plants to ever be stressed! Since they are in small pots, the soil dries out quickly. Check on them once a day to make sure they don’t dry out before you can get them in your GreenStalk!
Now for the fun part! For planting starter plants, I like to fill the GreenStalk Planters with potting mix and stack the entire system up before planting. It’s a personal preference thing. You could fill your planters first, plant, stack, then water. I just find that planting after stacking is easiest for me because I can see exactly how the plants will line up and I don’t have to be careful when stacking (not to crush the plants!) since the planters only have soil. Either way, never fill the planters as you stack since potting soil can fall down the center funnel and into the grey disks below – completely blocking the watering system. Talking about soil, be sure to read our post about choosing the right potting mix for containers!
When filling your planters, be sure to fill the soil about 1-2 inches from the top. Usually we recommend filling to the very top, but since your starter plants will need some room to be planted, 1-2 inches from the top works great. Once your GreenStalk Vertical Planter is all stacked up, create a little hole where you want to plant your plant (like that doesn’t sound redundant…).
To get your plant out of the container, gently tip upside down with your right hand supporting the base of the plant and your left hand squeezing the container. It should pop right out. Never pull the plant out of the container – you may accidentally disconnect the roots and the stem!
If the roots look root-bound, rough them up a little. You don’t need to do this every time, but your plant will benefit if the roots look like they have just grown in circles around the pot. Breaking apart the roots will kind of “reset” the plant to let it know that it’s going into a bigger container!
Make sure the hole is deep enough that the base of the plant sits at soil level. Not above, not below. It should look seamless when you back fill the soil around the plant. The exception to this rule is when planting tomatoes – it’s best to remove the leaves on the lower 2/3 of the plant and bury it with just the top 1/3 sticking out. When moving the soil back, make sure the plant is securely placed – you may need to add more soil or pack it in around the roots.
Tuck the plant tags in as you go to the side of each pocket so you’ll know what you planted later on in the season. Plant larger plants toward the bottom and smaller ones toward the top to keep them from shading each other out.
After everything is planted, give it a good soak. To make sure there’s no air pockets around the roots of your newly planted transplants, fill the reservoir several times until the soil is saturated. Since water will make your Vertical Planter significantly heavier, you’ll be happy that you saved this step for the end! For more info on how to water your GreenStalk Vertical Garden, check out this blog post.
And that’s it! Be sure to leave your tips for growing from starter plants below.