Pot it Up! The Ultimate Container Gardening Guide


The Ultimate Guide to Container Gardening

Best Container Garden - A Complete Guide

Liven up even the smallest porch or patio with a container garden. Planter boxes, baskets, wooden barrels, or even an old boot are just a few ideas for a beautiful gardening container. The container garden is limited only by your climate and your imagination.

No matter where people live, they have the urge to beautify their surroundings. Container gardens are perfect for everyone because they don’t require much space. With a decorative container and design traditional garden, you can liven up even the smallest area with a wide variety of plants.

Container gardens can be problem solvers. Colorful annual flowers can liven up a drab front porch, or make a long path to your house more welcoming. Disguise ugly walls with pot-grown shrubs and climbers. You can use containers brimming with plants to beautify or hide anything!

With beautiful container gardening, there are no rules. Grab whatever container you can get your hands on. If it will hold soil, it can be adapted. Even plastic pots, old water tanks, large tin cans, and old boots filled with flowers will look great stuck alongside a clay or terracotta pot.

Vegetable Container Gardening for Beginners

Nothing tastes better than homegrown vegetables picked fresh from your garden. Every time our family eats something we’ve grown in our container vegetable garden one of my kids says, “This is the best (onion, tomato, green bean, cucumber, etc) I’ve ever tasted.” It’s become a family ritual to say it and everyone laughs, but there is a certain satisfaction you gain from growing, harvesting, and eating food you’ve worked to produce.

Get your Feet Wet

Container vegetable gardening is especially fun for families to work on together. Planting a few container vegetables in a container is not nearly as daunting as a huge patch of soil to work with! Container vegetable gardening is a great way to get your feet wet–to try growing something you love to eat.

Plus, many families want to raise fresh vegetables but are limited by insufficient space or unsuitable areas. A window sill, a patio, a balcony, or a front porch will provide enough space for a productive mini-garden.

Types of Containers Garden

Different types of containers can be used for growing vegetables, including polyethylene plastic bags, clay jars, plastic jars, metal jars, milk jars, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and jar boxes.

It is important to use containers that can accommodate the roots of the vegetables you want to grow, as vegetables vary in size and depth of rooting. The container must have good drainage and should not contain chemicals that are toxic to plants and humans.

Most vegetables grown in garden gardens can be grown in containers, although the diameter and depth of a container are taken into account when choosing vegetables to grow. The density of the plant (number of plants per container) depends on the individual needs of the plant space and the depth of rooting.

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What Types of Containers work Best for Gardening and Planting

Almost any vegetable that grows in a typical backyard garden will also grow in a container. Variety selection is extremely important to container vegetable gardening. As you might guess, the mini or pixie varieties work best in container gardens. For example, a small-fruited tomato can even be grown in a hanging basket.

Here is a list of vegetables that are ideally suited to a container:

Pick a Container

Believe it or not, almost any type of container can be used for the fastest-growing segments of container vegetables. Try using bushel baskets, terra cotta pots, drums, gallon cans, tubs, or wooden boxes. The size of the container depends on the space available and the type of vegetables you want to produce. A good rule of thumb is:

  • Use plastic pots from 6 to 10 inches in size to plant green onion, parsley, and herbs.
  • Use 5-gallon containers for most vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

Adequate Drainage

Regardless of the type or size of the container, adequate drainage and the type of soil used are important things. It’s important to add about 1 inch of coarse gravel in the bottom of the container to improve drainage. Drain holes are best located on the side of a container, about 1/2-inch from the bottom.

Soil Mixes

Synthetic soils are best suited for vegetable container gardening. This potting mix can be composed of wood chips, grass clippings, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or almost any other type of media. Just make sure the mixture used in your container garden is free of disease and weed seeds and holds moisture and nutrients but drains well and is lightweight. There are many synthetic soil varieties available at your local garden center, or you may choose to mix one yourself.

Don’t Forget to Fertilize (Liquide Fertilizers or Solid Fertilizers)

A good fertilizer is important for Healthy plant growth. The easiest way to add fertilizer to vegetables grown in a container is by preparing a nutrient solution and pouring it over the soil. There are many good commercial fertilizers available that can be used by simply mixing them with water in a watering can.

Water, and wisely Plant Container Irrigation

Watering is essential for a successful container garden. Generally watering plants once a day is adequate. However, if you have poor drainage over-watering will slowly kill plants. the soil mix will become water-logged and plants will die. If at all possible, avoid getting the foliage wet. Wet leaves will encourage plant diseases.

Where’s the Sun?

Nearly all vegetable plants grow better in full sunlight. One advantage of container vegetable gardening is mobility. Using containers makes it possible to position the vegetables in areas where they can receive the best possible growing conditions. However, some vegetables can stand more shade than others:

  • Leafy crops like lettuce, cabbage, greens, spinach, and parsley can tolerate more shade than root crops.
  • Root crops like radishes, beets, turnips, and onions can stand more shade than fruit bearers.
  • Fruit bearers like cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant need the most sun.

Enjoy the Harvest

Harvesting and serving the vegetables you grow makes all the work worthwhile. To enjoy vegetables at their peak of maturity, look at the seed packet or other growing information to find the number of days from seeding to harvest. Then maybe you’ll hear, “That’s the best we’ve ever tasted,” at your dinner table too!

Container Gardening Plants

Grow Container Gardens offers the advantage of changing your garden whenever you want to. Whether you want to try a new plant or change color combinations with every season, choices are limited only by your climate and your imagination!

Read More: Best Gardening Tips for Low Maintenance Garden

No Rules

If you live in a tropical or temperate climate, you may not need to change the plants in your container garden at all, but you still might get the urge. The fun part about container gardening tips is a great way there are no rules. You decide how you want to combine plant material and what looks best to you. You can experiment with your heart’s content without spending a lot of time or money.

Soil first

When we think of planting a container garden thoughts usually turn first to what kinds of plants we want to try. But before you get started, remember container gardens are a different breed. In a container garden, roots can’t escape and seek food or moisture and top growth can’t travel long distances to seek the light. So to get your container garden off and running, you must first provide the right soil conditions.

Good container soil should be free draining but also hold moisture. Use a variety of container soils depending on the requirements of the plants. For most, you can use a 50/50 mix of soil-based and organic potting soil. The organic material provides water-holding materials and improves drainage. Adding soil that already has the fertilizer mixed in is great for keeping annual flowers blooming.

Learn What to Grow in a Container Garden and How to Grow Vegetables!

When it comes to planting your containers, let your imagination run wild. Don’t limit yourself to a few common annual plants. There are so many choices including trees, shrubs, climbers, perennials, ferns, bulbs, and vegetables. Which plants you like and your growing climate will help determine what to buy. For example:

  • For shady spots: If you have a shady spot use containers full of shade lovers like ferns, hostas, and camellias for foliage and fuchsias, lilies, and impatiens for color. Containers with different shades of foliage can be just as interesting as flowers.
  • For sunny areas: Sub-tropical plants like oleander, bougainvillea, and hibiscus will thrive in warm sunny areas, although they will need protection over the winter in all but the hottest climates. Annual flowers like wave petunias and geraniums also love sunny spots.
  • For height try climbers: If you need height try climbers. You’ll get lots of flower coverage with clematis, morning glory, and climbing roses.
  • For coverage: Use foliage plants for lots of coverage and to add color before, during, and after blooms.

Choosing Plants Container or Container Plants Selecting

When designing a container garden, choosing plants is the fun part. Think of yourself as an artist using containers and plants instead of canvas and paint. Try matching various colors and textures together until you achieve the look you want.

Following is a listing of some popular annual and perennial flowers and foliage that are suitable for container gardening:

Annual flowers

  • Alyssum
  • Begonia
  • Coleus
  • Dianthus
  • Dusty Miller
  • Germanium
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Periwinkle
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragon
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia
  • Marigold

Perennial flowers

  • Columbine
  • Candytuft
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Gaillardia
  • Lupine
  • Rudbeckia
  • Sedum
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Veronica


  • Cannas (variegated and red-leafed)
  • Coconut Palm
  • Elephant Ears
  • Dracaena
  • Ficus
  • Ferns
  • Ivy
  • Sweet Potato Vine
  • Spikes

Planting Container Guidelines and Container Garden Tips of Expert Gardeners

When planting containers, it’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little. Two-thirds of a mixed container should be planted with foliage plants to get a beautifully lush, full effect. Here are some other helpful guidelines for planting containers:

  • Color strategy: Both harmonious and contrasting color strategies are striking. One option is to group plastic pots of flowers with like colors with one pot of different colored flowers mixed in for dramatic impact.
  • Plants for height: Include at least one plant that is taller than the others for height and interest.
  • Trailing plants: Containers should include plants to grow down over the edges of containers, like trailing foliage, hanging fuchsias, and verbena.
  • Lasting blooms: Include plants that flower for an extended period.
  • Experiment. If something doesn’t look right or work in an area, try again. The important thing is to have fun by experimenting with different colors, textures, and groupings.

Gardening in Containers – Important Things to Remember

One thing you must remember is that container plants demand more care than their counterparts in the ground because they depend on you for all their needs. You confine them to limited space and if you don’t feed them or treat them with appropriate water and sunlight, they quickly become stressed. Some important things to remember before container gardening tips are:

  • Create a proper drain soil mix
  • Choose pots or containers depending on the nature of the plants
  • Proper fertilizer treatment at a regular interval
  • The right amount of sunlight, not too much, not less.
  • Enough water but not drench them completely.
  • Protection against temperature extremes.

It is important to use a drained soil mix. Many people make the mistake of using garden soil, which contains weeds and pests. A good commercial potting soil mix will provide the right amount of drainage and be free from pests.

Gardening in containers is not a tough job, but a careful one. First, you need to understand the nature of each plant and select the size of containers for a plant. You don’t need to choose only an earthen pot; you can choose window boxes, wine barrels, recycled pulp containers, etc. to grow your plant. The only thing is to ensure the size is enough to hold full-grown plants and their root systems.

You can decorate and design the pots with rocks and put small pebbles at the bottom for better drainage.

Growing Vegetables in Containers

Growing vegetables in containers can be fun and easy, even for the city gardener. So many of us live in apartments and condominiums in a metropolitan area, it is easy to think that growing vegetables is out of the question. This is not true at all. You can become a container gardener and grow your organic food right on your patio or balcony.

Choose a set of containers for growing vegetables by thinking about the adult plant size. Choose clay pots, ceramics, or plastic pots, but make certain that good drainage can be provided. Choose your vegetables according to the climate zone in which you reside and select those that are disease and pest-resistant. You’ll find many varieties of commonly grown vegetables available at your local garden center or plant nursery.

When you bring the containers home, soak them in clear, clean water for 24 hours to prepare the containers for planting. This helps prevent the clay or ceramic pots from soaking up water needed by the vegetable plants.

If you are planting seeds, follow the package directions. It is much faster, however, if you purchase young plants from the garden center. This allows you to plant the young, tender plants directly into organic soil you have purchased or made in your compost container.

If you live in a house with a backyard and have the choice to plant outdoors, you can use the same techniques for growing vegetables in containers to allow you to extend the growing season. You can grow vegetables all year long by growing indoors.

Water your container vegetable garden as needed, keeping the soil moist at a depth of one inch. To test, simply stick your finger into the soil up to the first knuckle and if the soil is moist, wait a couple of days before applying water. If the soil feels dry, it is time to add water. This is an easy way to test your vegetables, but if you wish, you can purchase a moisture meter from any garden center that can provide more accurate information on when to water your vegetable garden.

Having excess water in your container garden can be a challenge, but fear not! Here are some ways to tackle the issue and get your plants back on track:

Signs of Excess Water:

  • Wilting foliage, despite enough watering
  • Yellowing or dropping leaves
  • Fungus gnats hovering around the soil
  • Swollen and soft stems
  • Unpleasant odor from the soil

Fixing the Problem:

  • Improve Drainage: Ensure your pots have adequate drainage holes. If not, consider drilling more or repotting with better drainage.
  • Check the Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for container plants. Clay-based mixes tend to hold water more.
  • Watering Habits: Adjust your watering schedule! Stick your finger 1-2 inches into the soil before watering. Only water when the top feels dry. Be especially mindful in colder weather when plants need less water.
  • Empty Saucers: Don’t let pots sit in water-filled saucers. Empty them regularly to prevent waterlogging.
  • Aerate the Soil: Gently push a pencil or chopstick into the soil to improve air circulation, especially if it’s compacted.
  • Sun Exposure: Move pots to a sunnier location, if possible, as plants in shade dry slower.
  • Remove Affected Plants: If root rot is present, remove severely affected plants to prevent spread. Repot healthy plants with fresh soil.

Designing a Container Garden

The successful design of a beautiful container garden depends on the plants the containers used and how the two elements complement each other. As with any garden design, beginning with set goals will help drive the project. Do you want to liven up a deck, or bring color to a dull porch? Answering these types of questions will start you off in the right direction.

Why containers?

There are many reasons why people garden in containers, so goals differ. No matter where people live, they have the urge to beautify their surroundings. For spaces with little soil or space, decorative containers offer interesting ways to grow a wide variety of plants.

Problem solver

Container gardens can be problem solvers. If you have a long path to your house, colorful annuals in pots will make the approach more interesting. Use containers brimming with plants to hide the edge of a concrete balcony. Disguise ugly walls with pot-grown shrubs and climbers or build banks of color on a drab front porch. The possibilities are endless!


Besides allowing you to garden anywhere and improving dull areas, another great thing about container gardening is its portability. Group plants for impact and ungroup them if the idea doesn’t work. If an area is too sunny part of the year, just move the container to a different location. The container gardener has so many options.

Choosing Containers for Vegetables and Plants

The best thing about container gardening is there are no rules. Use any container you can get your hands on. Glazed pottery is fairly cheap and readily available. Clay and terracotta pots look good anywhere. Even plastic pots, wooden barrels, old water tanks, oil drums, large tin cans, and old boots will work.

If it will hold soil, it can be adapted. Just make sure the container is large enough to hold a good volume of soil and you can make an adequate drainage hole on the bottom. When choosing a container you’ll want to consider:

  • Location: Where you’re going to put the container will help determine what kind of container you buy. For example, if you’re going to group pots for impact, you may want to use the same color scheme.
  • Size, shape, and weight: The type of flowers or plants you want to use, how mobile you want the container to be, and the location will determine the size and shape of a container.
  • Durability: If you live in a climate where it rains frequently or gets cold, you may want to buy water-proof or frost-proof containers. Investing in containers that resist rot, rust, and corrosion is sometimes cost-effective in the long run.

Choosing Plants

When designing a container garden, choosing plants is the fun part. If a plant doesn’t work where you put it, dig it out put it in another pot, and start over. You are the artist and the plants are your canvas. Don’t limit yourself to annuals and perennials. Experiment. Use containers to plant trees, shrubs, climbers, ferns, and bulbs.

These guidelines will be helpful when designing a container garden:

  • Assess the location: Will the container be in the sun or shade? Is the location sheltered or exposed? Pick plants appropriate for the area.
  • Color strategy: Grouping like colors can make a dramatic impact. Or, choose light, medium, and dark tones of one color to put together in a pot. Combining contrasting colors and plants in a big pot or pots of different sizes is another option. If the color of the container is important in the composition, choose plants that won’t spill out and hide the container.
  • Consider shape: Plants in containers should not be more than twice the height of the pot or more than 1.5 times the width. Include at least one plant that is taller than the rest to create interest. Also, plant at least one vine or trailing plant in each pot that spills over the edge.
  • Include foliage plants: 2/3 of a mixed container should be planted with foliage plants. These plants will add color before, during, and after blooms.
  • Lasting bloom: Include plants that flower for an extended period.
  • Container height: If you’re going to group pots, they should be of varying heights. You can accomplish this by placing containers on boxes, old chairs, or benches to create interest.
  • Alternative plants: You may be stuck with few choices because of a location, either too sunny or too shady. But if you’re not, look around at alternatives. Besides annuals, you can plant herbs, perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Action plan

After you set goals for your container garden, sketch out a plan on paper. Decide where you’ll put each pot and how many plants to buy for each. That way you’ll have an idea of how much plant material you’ll need so you don’t waste time and money.

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