Potted Bog Gardens – How To Grow A Bog Garden In A Container

Potted Bog Gardens – How To Grow A Bog Garden In A Container

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

A bog (a wetland environment with nutrient poor, highlyacidic conditions) is uninhabitable for most plants. Although a boggarden can support a few types of orchidsand other highly specialized plants, most people like to grow carnivorousplants such as sundews,pitcherplants, and flytraps.

If you don’t have space for a full-size bog, creating acontainer bog garden is easily done. Even small potted bog gardens will hold anarray of colorful, fascinating plants. Let’s get started.

Creating a Container Bog Garden

To make your bog garden in a container, start with somethingmeasuring at least 12 inches (30 cm.) deep and 8 inches (20 cm.) across orlarger. Any container that holds water will work, but keep in mind that larger boggarden planters won’t dry out as quickly.

If you have space, a pond liner or children’s wading poolworks well. (The container should not have a drainage hole.) Create a substrateby filling the bottom one-third of the container with pea gravel or coarsebuilder’s sand.

Make a potting mix consisting of approximately one-partbuilder’s sand and two parts peatmoss. If possible, mix the peat moss with a few handfuls of long-fibered sphagnummoss. Put the potting mix on top of the substrate. The layer of potting mixshould be at least six to eight inches (15-20 cm.) deep.

Water well to saturate the potting mix. Let the potted boggarden sit for at least a week, which allows the peat to absorb the water, andensures the pH level of the bog has time to balance. Put your bog garden whereit receives the proper amount of light for the plants you have chosen. Most bogplants thrive in an open area with plenty of sunlight.

Your bog garden in a pot is ready to plant. Once planted,surround the plants with livemoss, which promotes a healthy environment, prevents the bog from dryingout quickly, and camouflages the edges of the container. Check the bog gardenplanter daily and add water if dry. Tap water is fine, but rainwater is evenbetter. Watch for flooding during rainy periods.

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What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • 1-inch spade bit (optional)
  • 1/2-inch twist bit
  • Scissors


  • Plastic kiddie pool
  • Fiberglass window screening or landscape fabric
  • General-purpose potting soil
  • Slow-release granular fertilizer
  • Lightweight wire fencing (optional)
  • Plant seeds or potted transplants

Once the saucer and reservoir pot are glued together, flip the pair over and place it (with the saucer-side down) inside the larger pot.

Check to make sure that the top edge of the reservoir pot sticks up above the top rim of the larger pot. This ensures that your reservoir pot can be filled with water without overflowing into the soil. (It's a good idea to try this "test fit" with your containers when you're choosing which to use for your project.)

Once you're satisfied with the fit, flip the reservoir/saucer pair over and apply glue around the edge of the saucer. Then, flip the pair over and press the glued saucer rim to bottom of the large pot. Wait until the glue dries.

Your pot assembly is complete!


Cut Drainage Holes in the Pool Bottom

Cut 1-inch-diameter holes in the bottom of the pool, spaced about 12 inches apart. You can do this with a sharp utility knife or a drill fitted with a 1-inch spade bit.

Drill Drainage Holes in the Sides

Drill holes into the sides of the pool, using a drill and 1/2-inch twist bit. Locate the holes about 1/2 inch up from the bottom and spaced about 12 inches apart along the entire perimeter. These holes will serve as backup openings in case the holes in the bottom of the pool get plugged.

Drainage is key to healthy plants. If desired, you can elevate your pool slightly by setting it on bricks or wood so water can flow freely out of the drainage holes. Just make sure the bottom is evenly supported. Wet soil is heavy and will crack the pool bottom if it is not well supported.

Line the Pool With Mesh

Cover the bottom of the pool with fiberglass window screening or porous landscape fabric, cutting it to size with scissors. Make sure to cover the bottom of the pool entirely, and overlap the screen partway up the sides, covering the drainage holes.

Add Soil and Fertilizer

Situate your pool planter in a sunny spot. Most flowers, herbs, and vegetables will require at least six full hours of sun each day. A planter filled with shade-loving flowers can work in a part-shade location.

Fill your pool either with general-purpose potting soil or a combination of potting soil and garden soil. You can also make your own potting soil by blending peat moss, garden soil, and perlite or vermiculite in equal amounts.

Thoroughly mix in a granular slow-release fertilizer with a balanced mix of nutrients. Follow the label directions for quantity.

Prepare the Soil and Add Fencing

Smooth out the soil in your garden planter and pat it down gently. The surface should be flat but not tightly packed. Form furrows into the soil, if appropriate for your seeds.

If rabbits, squirrels, or other wildlife animals are anticipated to be a problem, you can add short wire fencing around the perimeter of the pool, embedding the bottom of the fence a few inches into the soil.

Plant Seeds or Seedlings

Many vegetables grow quickly from seeds, while others (such as tomatoes) are so slow-growing that its best to buy potted transplants that are already well developed. Generally speaking, shallow-rooted vegetables (such as lettuces and herbs) are better suited for this type of planter than deep-rooted vegetables (such as potatoes).

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planting seeds is to plant them too deep. Check the information on your seed packet to see how deep and far apart you should plant them. Make rows in the soil according to the directions on your seed packets.

Potted transplants should be planted at the same depth they were in their containers. Dig small holes, insert the transplants, then press down the soil around the plant. Make sure to follow spacing recommendations for each type of plant. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, are quite large a single planter might be able to handle only two or three such plants.

Water the Soil

Give your garden a deep watering, preferably until water runs out the bottom of the planter. It is important, particularly at this point, not to use a harsh stream of water that will disturb the seeds or wash them away. Either use a watering can with a rose attachment or a garden hose with a misting nozzle to provide a gentle spray.

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