can people please help me out on what can I do in order to grow the plants in containers. This summer, I had planted bitter gourd as well, as bottle gourd and lemongrass in different containers. These were in large grow bag containers measuring about 3 feet in height and 2 ft in breadth and length (one plant in each of the containers). I filled them with potting mix. I also made the holes at the bottom for drainage and in fact made holes in the side also. I placed them by the side of a bed where the same plants were planted in the ground.

The bitter gourd produced only a few fruits though it did flower quite a bit but none of the fruits ever grew. The bottle gourd was similar. While the plant, which was in the ground produced almost 30 KG of bottle gourd, the plant in the container produced around three KG. For the lemongrass, the one which was planted in the ground looks like a thick bush. The one planted in the container did grow, but it is a far cry from being dense.

All I could understand from reading about plants being grown in container was that the drain it should be good and therefore we made sure that the soil was properly aerated. What else can be done?

Are there any case studies or even papers anywhere on this? Most of the knowledge that I have got is by watching YouTube videos and reading about it and none of it is helping so I thought maybe getting more technical perhaps will help.

Please advise. Thank you for any inputs Edit : as required in the comments, I am appending the photographs. The first one is the image of the lemongrass planted in the ground. The second is the image of the lemongrass planted in the container. You can see how dense the lemongrass planted in the ground is as I was not even able to capture the entire plant with the camera standing at about the same distance as I was when taking the picture of the lemongrass in the container. The third picture is that of the larger container that I had used with the same results for the lemongrass as in the smaller container

This is the image of the lemongrass planted in the ground This is the lemongrass in the container enter image description here

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    Adding a photo of the containers you used might be useful, but generally, while you can grow plants in containers, for those with larger roots, they will always do better in open ground - its difficult for a plant to grow to its full potential when its roots are unable to roam, and it is totally dependent on you to provide adequate moisture and nutrients. There are exceptions - tomatoes for instance, but perhaps seeing the containers you used might enable a better response. It probably was not wise to punch holes in the sides is the other thing, best just to have holes at the bottom.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 16:38
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    Did you use fertilizer for any of the plants, in the containers or in the ground?
    – Stephie
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 18:03
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    I am thinking fertilizer like Stephie has asked. Plants have to not only have sunlight, water, drainage, air in the soil but they desperately need chemistry to do photosynthesis; A balanced fertilizer of NPK is minimum. Did you start your baby plants out in tiny pots to upgrade them as they grew? Did you put ONE plant in one humongous pot? Fertilizer and pot sizing I think was your problem. Pot sizing means starting seeds in tiny pots 1X2". When roots show out of the bottom then they are ready to up pot to 3" pots, When roots show, then upgrade to 1 gallon pots. Then into your big pots.
    – stormy
    Commented Nov 23, 2018 at 6:52
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    I would suspect that you need a different kind of soil, or more of certain nutrients. What temperatures do your soils get? You may want to measure that and compare it with ground temperatures. What color are the grow bags? (Color can affect temperature.) Did you move the bags during growth? Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 0:37
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    @Shule , the grow bag out of black colour as well, as a white colour as you can see in the photograph. The temperature is that we get during summer when the growth of the lemongrass peaks is about 100 Fahrenheit which is 37.7 C. Actually, for lemongrass, specifically, I was told that it does not need much help to grow and therefore I was hoping that regardless of the place where it is planted, it would come out to be the same. I understand the difference for other vegetables but for lemongrass, I was not expecting much difference and am unable to find out what to do.
    – Ramana
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


I think you are kicking yourself too hard by calling this a failure, or perhaps your aspirations are slightly underinformed.

First, as Bamboo says, plants need room for their roots. That’s a tiny bag for any cucurbit, the family of plants that includes gourds and squashes. It’s unlikely a gourd is ever going to thrive in a container unless the container is many times as big as the ones you have. It can sometimes help to remember that much of a plant’s life happens underground. Room for roots is every bit as important as the size of the plant's above ground home. Big plants (like cucurbits) just aren’t cut out for container gardening. If you are determined to grow them anyway, get the biggest containers you can find and look for gourd varieties whose plants are especially small.

Second, you have quite successfully grown a single lemongrass plant. It looks healthy and vibrant, beautiful. It’s young, a first-year plant. Like chives or some other plants with bulbous roots, lemongrass form a crowded mass of multiple plants over time, like what's in the ground in your photos. But not in their first year. It appears you have quite a green thumb even if you aren’t giving yourself credit for it.

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