Container Gardening Guide: Raised Container Garden, Planting, Watering

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | February 21, 2024

Man looking at an outdoor container garden after reading a container gardening guide and how to choose plants for container gardens, types of vegetables to grow in containers, as well as the care, watering, and planting in containers guidelines.

Container gardening is the solution if you want to start growing your own food, flowers, and herbs, but may not necessarily have an outdoors that will accommodate. It may be because you have a smaller home with little yard space, or you live in an urban setting, and there is just no room.

Don’t worry because, with container gardening, you can have your favorite vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers growing right on your windowsill, balcony, deck, driveway, kitchen counter, or wherever you want, just as long as your planter can fit, which is literally anywhere.

Container gardening is also a great solution for growing plants not weather hardy for your growing zone.

If this is your first time planting anything, know that the best part is about container gardening it’s both fun and rewarding, and there are actually some advantages that it has over other planting methods.

This complete guide to container gardening explores your options and various methods that can be used to grow vegetables and flowers indoors, and how to maximize the impact of your potted plants both indoors and out.

What Is Container Gardening?

If you pride yourself on being creative, then container gardening is definitely for you.

The name gives you a rough idea of what it is all about. Very simple; it is gardening using containers or having plants growing in containers, not directly in the ground.

The reason why you will have to be innovative is because this gardening style is known for how versatile it can be and how much fun you can have with it.

It works wonders for you if you have a tiny space, and it is incredible to learn how many plants you can actually have.

Graphic showing container garden varieties including raised beds, potted plants and other applications.

Understand that anything and everything can be a container, a pot, a bucket, a barrel, literally anything as far as your creativity can go.

There are no limits as long as your plants get what they need in container gardening.

You can mount the containers on a surface or hang them off a part of your house, and you will love how they will effortlessly revamp the space.

Let your imagination run wild with container gardening because you can use single large pots for decor, line up a couple of them on your stairway or along the driveway, or have a whole bunch in one place.

You also have the choice to plant them indoors or outdoors, so there are no limits to what you can do, all thanks to this unconventional method of planting.

What Do You Need For Container Gardening?

Container gardening is not that demanding, and you will need only a few items to get started. First and foremost, you will need to buy a gardening container or a planter that is of the right size and materials according to your needs.

You will also need the plant seedling that you want to start with and the potting mix as the medium. You may also need a trowel to add in the potting mix or dig in the container during planting.

A watering can/garden hose and a pair of gloves will also come in handy during care and maintenance.

Container Garden Varieties To Choose From

There are so many ways that you can plant and style your container garden. You will realize that your space and style choice will have a lot to do with the type of garden that you go for.

Here is a compilation of the various ways that you can spruce up your home with a container garden.

Vegetable Garden

This is probably the most common garden that homeowners go for, and it is pretty easy to see why. It ticks all of the boxes when it comes to functionality and aesthetics, and you should also give it a try if you want to finally start growing your own food.

People find it fun, actually, because you can literally get something out of it. You can plant anything that you want, any of your favorite vegetables, and get to enjoy a steady supply of fresh organic food all through the year.

Flower Garden

Another absolute favorite form of container planting for homeowners is outdoor flower gardening.18 Who wouldn’t want gorgeous flowers in and around their home, with their impressive colors and uplifting fragrance?

There is no better form of landscape gardening than adding your favorite types of flowers, and you are able to get creative with them as you want. Mixing up different types and colors and placing the pots wherever you want to create that aesthetic appeal.

Herb Garden

The same way that you are able to plant your favorite vegetable is the same way that you can also experiment with planting herbs in your containers. This is also a perfect method to landscape while, at the same time, plant things that you can actually use in your kitchen.

There are so many types with unique tastes and smells, and you can go for your favorite and have a constant supply of fresh herbs at any given time.

Raised Garden

Do you want to have a backyard garden, but the type of soil in your region just won’t allow it? Here is where raised container gardening comes in.

In that case, you have total control when it comes to the type of soil that you want and the compatible plants,14 and you can fertilize the potting soil however you want.

Indoor Container Gardening

One of the greatest advantages of container gardening is the fact that you are able to carry your plants indoors or in a closed space when you need to. This is particularly important when you live in a region that gets extremely cold, and there is no way that outdoor gardening would work.

There is also the upside of being able to plant anything all through the year without paying attention to the seasons or climatic conditions.

Containers are also pretty handy when it comes to indoor apartment gardening when there is just not enough space for conventional planting. You can plant what you can’t in containers and place them indoors or on your balcony and work around that.

Vertical Gardening

Still on urban gardening in apartment buildings, did you know that you can maximize a lot of space if you try planting your containers in a vertical pattern?

You can make use of this growing method even if you have the tiniest space ever, and you will be shocked by how stunning small containers look when growing in a sort of garden wall. You can have this on your balcony or a well-lit wall in your house.

What Is Raised Container Gardening and Why Is It Important?

Planting in raised beds is not a new concept because it is now very popular, especially among homeowners, and it is really easy to see why. All that you have to do is to get a container and let it sit in an elevated spot that is raised by wood or concrete.

Wondering why there is a need for raised container gardening? There are so many.

For one, it really goes a long way to making gardening easier even if the soil in your area is not that great; maybe it is too rocky, not fertile enough, or even too acidic or alkaline.

Angled shot of three rectangular planting boxes filled with different plants showing an example of raised container gardening.

(Image: Ed Bierman36)

Raised beds are actually effective solutions to deal with pests and diseases that lurk in the ground. There is also the advantage of preventing water runoff and good news for gardeners with back and joint problems: raised container gardening actually makes work easier and less painful and tiring.

Finally, with this gardening method, you get a say in what plants you want to grow in your home because you can get a potting mix that will be able to support them.

Container Gardening for Beginners: Simple Steps To Get You Started

Gardening for beginners doesn’t really have to be that complex. Just a few simple steps, and you should be well on your way to becoming an owner of a stunning container garden.

The trick is to start small because otherwise, it may become too overwhelming for you.

So, before getting down to the steps, what are the gardening tools or gardening supplies that you need?

  • Garden planters and containers
  • Gardening trowel
  • Watering can/ spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • Hand fork
  • Potting soil
  • Water
  • Plants

Step 1: Find the Right Planter

Of course, the very first thing that you are going to take into consideration is where your plants are going to live. That is the whole point of container gardening, and nothing should go wrong at this very first stage.

When you are going shopping, you will realize that they come in various materials, shapes, and sizes, and it is all up to you to decide which one works best for you.

Maybe consider the type of plant you want, how big it gets, and how it is going to look in the container.

Your budget will also play a role because simple and tinier planters obviously cost less.

The available space also matters because it may restrict you from going for the massive pots that you want.

Step 2: Pick Your Plants and the Perfect Style

Starting small is your best bet. Now that you have already picked your container, you will then decide what you are going to plant in it.

Ask yourself, how many plants do you need? How are they going to look in terms of color and style?

Are you combining more than one in a single pot? And if so, do they have similar needs, and will they blend in perfectly with each other?

A variety of flowers with different colors planted in a single pot.

(Image: Jalynn32)

There is one trick that experts use when combining plants during container gardening: planting them in odd numbers, especially three (a filler, thriller, and a spiller plant).16 The difference?

  • Thriller: These ones are very common because they are those plants that are planted in containers specifically for their foliage and ornamental features. The rule is that they must grow in an upward and vertical pattern, like stunning grasses or flowers, and for these, you have to plant them in the middle of the pot.
  • Filler: Just from the name, you can tell that these plants are mainly for ‘filling’ or making the container look more complete. They tend to take a more rounded shape, and you should grow them all around the thriller plants from the middle to the edge of the container.
  • Spiller: Again, the name should tell you that these plants are known for how they ‘spill all over the container,’ hang outside and make the planter look even better, making them perfect for hanging.

While you are picking the perfect plants for your containers, just remember not to overdo it. You may just end up planting too many of them and overcrowding the pot, and what that means is that their growth will be affected.

So, how do you know that you are planting the right number of plants according to the size of your container? These are the general rules:

  1. A pot that is 10-12 inches can hold a maximum of 3 or 4 plants.
  2. A pot that is 14-16 inches can accommodate at most 5-7 plants.
  3. A planter measuring 16-20 inches can only support as much as 6-9 plants.

Step 3: Prepare the Container

Now that you are almost ready to plant, there are a few measures that you are going to take to make sure that your container is ready for planting.

For one, your pot must have proper drainage holes because you will soon learn that overwatering or letting your plants stay too long in water could lead to many complications. This is why you have to check that there are draining holes below the container, and if not, you may have to drill them yourself.

A plastic planting container with drainage holes.

(Image: Francis Chung33)

When you are certain that everything is fine, you will then place your container in its final spot, or where you want your plants to grow. Filling it with soil, especially the massive planters, makes them too heavy, and it can be too tasking to move them to a different spot later.

Location also matters because the pot will need access to sunlight, but at the same time, the spot should have some shading when the sun gets too hot.

Step 4: Fill With Potting Soil

A huge mistake that you can make when container gardening is using the wrong type of soil.

You want to always go for the best quality, which is organic potting mix, because that is going to be how your plants eat and drink, literally, because they get nutrients from the soil. What you need is a quality mix, maybe from a greenhouse or a local trusted supplier.

With the right mix, you can now add it to the container. You will fill up ⅔ of the planter with the all-purpose mix, not garden soil, because you may have issues with drainage.

But, what if your planter is massive, and you want to add potting soil? You can find a way to reduce the space in the container by adding some smaller pots upside down in the bottom to reduce the amount of space before adding the mix.

Close-up shot of a gardener's hands putting soil into a flower pot around the plant.

(Image: Ivan Radic34)

One question that comes to mind is, what about the drainage holes?17 Won’t the mix just pour out of the container?

That could happen, so you have to be careful by adding a single layer of paper towel or even a newspaper at the bottom. This way, the mix will hold up, and there will be no impact on the drainage.

Step 5: Fertilize the Potting Mix

You may find that that potting mix just doesn’t cut it in terms of fully feeding your plants, and that is why you will have to invest in fertilizer to boost the rate of growth. There are so many types available in the market, and that is why you are going to take into consideration the type of plants you will grow and whether the option will be safe for them.

Well, your safest bet has got to be organic because the last thing that you want is to introduce harmful chemicals into your plants. It is also best to use a slow-release fertilizer, and as for the mixing, you will have to use the directions given in the package of the potting soil.3

Step 6: Start Planting

Probably the hardest part about container gardening is now done, and it is time for the most important step, the actual planting. It is the fastest and the simplest to do, especially if you are starting with seedlings.

When you have all your plants ready, all that you have to do is squeeze them out of the containers they come in and slide them out. Be careful not to tug too hard, or you could cause irreparable damage.

You will then make the roots loosen up to at least give them a better chance of growing in their new pot.

Next, place the seedling such that the roots are a few inches below the edge of the container, and then fill up more potting soil as you press down the top to remove any air pockets.

Several sprouts from seeds planted in a wide, round planting pot.

(Image: Hans35)

And the very last step of the way is to water the plants. The excess water will spill through the draining holes and collect in the saucer underneath, which should also be emptied.

It is also important for the soil level to be a few inches deep in the container so that the water doesn’t spill out in the process of watering.

How Do You Water Gardening Containers?

You have to establish a garden watering system for your containers because many beginners unknowingly kill their plants by either starving or overwatering them. It is even more important now that containers are infamous for drying out rather quickly compared to conventional gardens, especially in the sweltering summers.

Some may need as much as two waterings in a single day.

Close-up shot of the nose end of a watering can pouring water on a flower pot.

(Image: DaModernDaVinci40)

You can go for watering cans, hoses, or even drip irrigation, depending on the type of plant, its size, and the prevailing conditions. There are some pointers to remember when looking after your container garden.

  1. Try to water first thing in the morning: This is a trick that works for many gardeners because they realize that watering in the colder hours of the morning actually gives the plants the strength to get through the day even when it gets hotter later on in the afternoon. Also, this way, the leaves get more time to dry out before the cold of the night, which helps prevent diseases.
  2. Water as deep as you can each time: Watering is supposed to be very deep to make sure that the roots get the moisture.
    It is not just about the top layer of the soil because evaporation can easily mess it up. Each time, make sure that you water such that the excess seeps out of the drainage holes.
  3. Don’t overdo it: It is understandable that you want to give your plant some extra love and attention, but that is one way to kill it, ironically. Too much watering leaves the plant waterlogged, and that could cause issues like root rot.
    In fact, watering deeply once is way better than frequent shallow watering because that encourages the plant to grow leggy and have weak roots.
  4. Water according to the plant, the container’s size, and the weather: What works for one gardener may not necessarily work for you. You have to consider the kind of plant that you are dealing with because some will need more water than others.
    Small pots also tend to dry up faster than large ones and will need more frequent watering.
    Lastly, you will have to water more when it is too hot outside.

How Do You Fertilize Plants in a Container?

You realize pretty quickly along your container gardening journey that watering tends to flush away the nutrients in the soil even when using the recommended potting mix. But this is not always a bad thing because this flushing out actually carries with it the excessive salt that builds up in the soil, leaving your plants healthy and happy.

But on the downside, it implies that the more you water, the more you lose the nutrients, and you will have to find a way to replenish them before it starts taking a toll on your plants.

You may end up feeding your container plants more than you would have had they been growing in the ground. So, how exactly do you go about it?

Close-up shot of a pot filled with soil mixed with fertilizer.

(Image: Ivan Radic41)

The best thing that you can do is to add a liquid slow-release fertilizer to your potting soil, particularly at the very beginning of the season, for the best results.23 You can do this by either mixing the fertilizer in your potting mix even before planting or by simply sprinkling it on top or, in other words, ‘top-dressing’ it after planting.

You will do this again the more your plant grows, especially during the vital stages like flowering or fruiting, and you can amend the mix maybe twice a month, of course, by keenly following the instructions written on the label. The type of fertilizer that you are going to use will most likely depend on the type of plant and its needs because it may need one that is more nitrogen-based, or sometimes homemade compost will do.

All About Potting Plants in Container Gardening

Now that you already know exactly how to go about starting your container garden, there’s one more thing: how do you repot your plants? This is a unique skill to have because, at some point, you are going to have to learn about switching up or repotting an overgrown plant.

In the same light, you may also find yourself having to repot your plant in the same container but in a different potting soil. This is usually done to provide a fresh start or improve the growing conditions of the plant.

So, how exactly will you know that it is time to repot into a new container that is bigger?

  • When you see that the plant’s roots are starting to peak out of the bottom of the container through the holes.
  • The plant looks like it is starting to get pushed out of the pot by roots that are bulging upwards.
  • You will have to repot when you see that the plant’s leaves are over three times the size of the planter, meaning that they are overgrowing.19
  • If the plant looks like it is getting too heavy, it could possibly fall the pot over.
  • The potting mix tends to dry out rather quickly, which forces you to keep watering more frequently.
  • When the plant is too slow when it comes to growing, it is not like it is undergoing winter dormancy.
  • If your plant has been in the same pot for more than a year.

When you see the signs above, take that as a signal from your plant that it is trying to communicate to you that it may be time to find a new home for it and transfer it to a new container. And here is how to do it.

  1. Of course, the very first step is to take the plant out of its old home. You start by laying the planter on the side, tapping it as you hold the plant by the stems, and that should help you slide it out without causing any harm.
  2. When that is done, you are going to slowly loosen the roots of the plant using your hands. If they are root bound, which is quite common during re-potting, you need to unbind them as much as possible and even prune out the extra long parts while leaving the main roots that are thicker.5
  3. You may want to re-pot to another container that is bigger and maybe more stunning than the old one, so you will take the new pot and fill it with a brand-new potting mix to give your plant a new home. Just make sure that the planter has drainage holes and will be able to accommodate the plant for a long time.
  4. Lastly, you will now place in your plant and add in more potting soil, but be careful that there is some space between the soil and the top of the container. You will then water your plant and keep taking care of it as usual.

How To Choose a Planting Container for Container Gardening Flowers

There is something that you are likely going to battle with on your journey to becoming a container gardener: choosing the perfect planter. It is true that virtually anything can make a good planter as long as it is the right size and has drainage holes,20 but you may have to dig deeper than that if you are looking for the most stunning containers that are going to serve all your needs.

So, take a look at the factors to consider when choosing planters for container gardening.


The size is one of the first things that gardeners take into consideration because it is definitely going to determine what you plant and how it is going to grow.

It also determines the price because oftentimes, larger containers are more expensive than smaller ones, and it makes a lot of sense because you can fit more plants in one place.

Different sizes of potting plants on display at a gardening store.

(Image: Paco37)

If your plant grows massive and has deep roots, then you will have no choice but to go for a larger container, but of course, it all narrows down to your personal preferences, which one will serve your needs best.


The best thing about container gardening is that you are able to experiment. The pots come in different shapes and materials to choose from, and here is a breakdown of the most common ones that you will find in the market.

  • Wooden: Wooden planters are nothing short of stunning, especially when it comes to raised container gardens, and you can even go ahead and DIY your own. You will also find them relatively cheaper and excellent for growing your vegetables, but there’s one more thing: wood may start rotting after some seasons, so you better make full use of them.
  • Cement: If you are looking for a more durable and permanent alternative, why don’t you try cement containers? They last so long and are worth every single penny, it is just that you have to be sure about them because they are not as easily portable as other containers.
  • Plastic: What if you are on a tight budget and want the cheapest material that you can find? Plastic containers are more pocket-friendly and just as elegant as the other materials.
    They are also hailed for being the lightest and most portable of the bunch, but the downside is that they are not as durable as the others.
  • Terracotta: These are absolute favorites among homeowners because they are great choices for landscaping, considering how stunning they look. However, considering their looks, it is common to find them being sold at higher costs than other containers, and there are concerns that they heat up fast and make water evaporate,8 making your plants need more watering.
  • Ceramic glazed: These look almost the same as terracotta materials but without the downsides.
    They are able to lock in moisture for longer, so your plants will remain hydrated for a long time. They are definitely worth investing in.

Which Materials Make the Best Planters?

All the planter materials have their ups and downsides, and it is entirely up to you to choose which one you love best.

Take, for instance, plastic pots; they are cheaper and super lightweight, but the problem is that they are not as durable as those made of cement.

But again, cement containers are not very portable. On the other hand, terracotta planters are known far and wide for being gorgeous but the disadvantage is that they tend to heat up too fast and cause the water to dry up faster.

Small vs Large Planter Pots

If this is your first time planting in a container, the question about size can be overwhelming.

You may not know where to start when it comes to choosing the perfect container size. Should it be big or small?

Three large planter pots filled with a variety of flowering plants with a grass lawn in the background.

(Image: Photoman38)

You will know when you answer the questions below.

Are You on a Tight Budget?

Smaller pots are obviously going to be cheaper, so if you want to spend less, you will end up getting a more economical smaller container.21

Do You Want To Limit Watering?

Well, one thing about massive pots is that they retain more water because they don’t dry out as quickly as the small planters. So, if you get too busy and don’t want to keep coming back to water your plants, you may want to consider a large planter.

Do You Have Only a Tiny Space To Accommodate Your Garden?

Pots that are slimmer and taller are a top choice for urban gardening or for people with very limited space for their plants. They can end up planting more in several small containers because the larger ones just won’t fit.

Are You Hoping To Experiment With Numerous Designs in One Place?

You will need a container with a wider opening if you are going to try out more flower designs in one pot, maybe with thrillers, fillers, and spillers.

So, technically, you will need more space and, of course, a larger container.

Do You Want To Be Able To Move Your Plant Around Whenever You Want?

If you live in a region where summers get too hot and winters unbearably cold, you will have to keep moving your plants around a lot. That may be a problem with larger and heavier containers.

You would rather invest in small and lightweight ones that you can move as you please.

Do You Want To Plant a Healthy and Happy Tree?

Larger and deeper containers have the advantage of letting the plant’s roots thrive, so you won’t have to worry a lot about repotting your plants or them constantly outgrowing their containers.

What Is the Best Potting Mix for Container Gardening?

You should know that garden soil is not a great choice of growing medium for your container gardening. Any expert will tell you that, which should also be on the instructions when starting your container garden.

But why, you may ask. For one, regular soil is too heavy, and what that means is that there is a great risk of compacting and causing water-logging, which is the last thing you want your plant to go through.

The garden soil is meant to grow plants in the ground, and restricting it to such a tiny space makes it a little too dense. Apart from issues with drainage, you may also end up dealing with pests and diseases, and there is an increased chance of weed growth.

One more important thing is that the soil may lack the nutrients that your potted plants really need, and you know what that means for your plant: discoloration, stunted growth, and other complications.

Close-up shot of a gardener's hands wearing gloves putting the best potting mix for container gardening inside a black multiple-celled planter using a small garden shovel.

(Image: Greta Hoffman39)

The best thing that you can do for your plants in containers is to grow them in “soilless” potting mixes. These are special blends that are created for plants to grow in containers, and there are so many reasons why you should invest in them.

For one, they are quick to drain, very lightweight, and you will have no problems with pests and diseases. To let you in on a little secret, expert gardeners actually use a mixture of vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss to grow the healthy and vibrant plants that you see.

Peat moss is great at helping lock in moisture, which is vital when using pots that drain out rather fast.6 On the other hand, the mineral vermiculite is a game changer when it comes to aeration and proper drainage of the potting mix, and lastly, perlite is a secret weapon to help give the mix a little more weight and make it strong enough to hold plants when they get big.22

Apart from those, the mix may also contain limestone and fertilizers to improve the medium’s quality.

Tips For Choosing Plants for Outdoor Container Gardening

Are you a little worried that you will end up making the wrong choice when picking plants for container gardening? The good news is that it is highly unlikely.

There are absolutely no rules when it comes to what plants will look perfect, and you can go ahead and get as creative as you want.

You can choose what you are going to use in the kitchen or use the containers for landscaping, and you cannot possibly go wrong. However, if you want your container gardening to look like it was created by a pro, you may want to consider these tips.

  • You would pick the plants according to the size of the planter and choose the planter according to the location or the site. In other words, a small plant would be lost in a massive container, while a small container would be misplaced on a large deck.4
  • The plant should never grow to be more than two times the entire height of the pot and never twice the diameter.
  • If you are going for a showy and dramatic plant, it helps to tone down the look of the pot and go for something a little more simple and subtle; in the same light, go for simple plants if you have a more sophisticated planter that you want to show off.
  • You can either have a single plant for each pot, but if you want to combine, you would rather plant a filler, thriller, and a spiller.
  • If you are a lover of full containers and want more growing in the same pot, you would rather choose plants that have the same growing conditions and needs.7
  • Your best bet again when it comes to combining flowers is to always settle for those with the same or almost equal growth rates. You don’t want one outdoing the other, no matter how great they look together.
  • What makes container gardening so much fun is how well you can play around with the colors of the leaves and flowers to come up with something stylish and beautiful. You can go for plants that have uniquely shaped leaves and flower colors that contrast yet blend in nicely.

What Are the Benefits of Container Gardening?

Are you thinking about starting a home garden but are unsure whether you have the space?

Why don’t you try container gardening? There are so many upsides to it that will convince you.

  • Container gardening is the answer to all your landscaping needs. You can place them around to add a pop of color to otherwise dull spaces and make your home look amazing.
  • Growing plants in containers gives you the advantage of flexibility.15 You will be able to carry and transfer your plants wherever you see fit to make them more comfortable.13 You can bring them indoors or outdoors and rearrange them as much as you want.
  • Gardening doesn’t have to be restricted only to particular plants just because of the type of soil that is available. Thanks to container gardening, you are able to choose the type of soil or potting mix that you want and grow any plant.
  • You will immediately notice that caring for plants in containers is way more effortless. It is not that tasking to care for and maintain them because there is less weeding, watering, and pruning.
  • Even though you may not have all the space you need to plant, you can still grow your food in containers and harvest just the same.
  • One more incredible aspect of container gardening is how much freedom you have to express yourself. Whether you want them hanging in your room or lining up and down your stairs, you get to experiment, which you can’t get with traditional gardening.

What Are the Best Plants for Container Gardening?

You already know the best part about having a container garden, the fact that you can grow just about anything that you want. You will only have to take a few factors into consideration, and you will be on your way to owning the most impressive displays.

So, what are some of these factors to consider when choosing the plants to grow? First of all, you are going to choose only the plants that are comfortable according to your particular gardening zones and environmental factors, especially if you are growing outdoors.24

You still want your plants to receive everything that they need when it comes to climatic conditions.

One more thing: considering the fact that you will be planting in a tiny space, your best bet will be a dwarf variety. These types of plants will be easier to care for, and you are certain they will stay comfortable in the space.

Various plants will actually thrive and surprise you with their rate of growth even when in containers.


Many gardeners opt to plant their vegetables in single containers, and some go for either massive containers or tiny ones, depending on the type and size of the plant in question.

For instance, one tomato plant would grow in one container, but the same planter could accommodate several small plants like kales and cabbages. While at this, remember to focus more on the dwarf species like cherries when planting tomatoes.

You can also play around with the theme of the vegetable garden and go for something like a sort of a salad garden, mixing it up with chives, lettuce, parsley, carrots, or any other plant that you normally use for your salads. And how about a pizza garden where you have things like tomatoes, peppers, and basil?


Are you looking for a way to add some color and life to your home or landscaping? Why don’t you consider planting colorful flowers in containers?

Imagine getting all the upsides of container gardening while, at the same time, enjoying delightful, vibrant, and fragrant flowers.

With just so many types of flowers that you are able to grow, deciding on just one may end up being a daunting task. How do you even choose from so many excellent options?

  • The Best Flowers for Full Sun To Grow in Containers

These ones do not mind basking in the full sun and are resistant to heat, so you can comfortably place the containers outdoors.

  • Zinnias
  • Sunflowers
  • Geranium flower
  • Marigolds
  • Lantana
  • Peony flower
  • Cape daisy
  • Petunia flower
  • Begonias
  • Pansy
  • The Best Flowers To Grow in Shaded Spots

If you are afraid of starting a flower container garden because you can only place your plants under a shaded spot, you will be glad to learn that there are perfect options for you.

  • Caladium
  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Hydrangea
  • Primrose
  • Hostas
  • Trilliums
  • Fuchsias
  • Bush lily
  • Lobelia


What’s better than stocking your favorite herbs for your food and drink recipes? Having them growing right in your home in your container garden.

The thing about herbs is that they are pretty simple to grow, and you get to enjoy a long supply of your favorites all through the season;1 what an economical and fun way to grow organic herbs for your own use!

So, what types of herbs are perfect for your containers?

  • Basil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Mint plant
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary

What Are the Worst Plants For Container Gardening?

While most plants are perfect for growing in containers, especially the dwarf varieties, there are some that are not suitable. They either grow too tall or massive to be containers in a planter, or the method is just not right for them.

For instance, you would want to avoid growing plants like huge melons and squash or types like corn. They will not reach their potential and may actually give you a pretty hard time.

You may also want to avoid growing plants that are toxic.

Offering Support for Plants in a Grow Container

Along the path to becoming an expert container gardener, you will notice that some plants will need some extra support when growing in the container. It is not just about where they grow, but these are plants that are known to require support even when growing in the ground, and you will have to find a way to keep them stable, otherwise, they will fail to grow.

Some of these plants include the climbing vegetables and vine plants that grow weak stems and have to get extra support either from other plants or from specially made stakes and cages.25

Take tomatoes, for instance. The reason why you are advised to go for the dwarf varieties is because the fruits will not get too big for growing in a container.

But even so, even the tiny varieties like cherries may also need some additional support now and then. The same case applies to other options like the cucumbers; stakes will come in really handy to keep them in place because otherwise, the produce becomes too much for the plant to bear.

How do you go about staking the plant, then, you may ask.

It is pretty simple. All you need is the perfect staking material, maybe bamboo, metallic, or just about any other material.

You will take it and drive it right through the container to the bottom. This is vital because the potting mix in the container is rather loose, not like garden soil, so you will have to drive the stakes deeper.

You will then gently and lightly tie up the plant, making sure that you use a stretchy material.

Which Options Are Perfect for Container Vegetable Gardening?

One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about container gardening is having a backyard vegetable garden.

It is one of the top options for gardeners because not only is it a way to spruce up the home, but it is actually practical because you can grow edible vegetables to use in your own home.

No more frequent runs to the store to restock because what you need is growing only a few steps away.

High angled shot of a planter box filled with different leafy vegetable plants showing an example of container vegetable gardening.

(Image: normanack42)

If you are also interested in growing vegetables, you may want to know which ones are the best options and learn a few tricks to help you get started.

  • Potatoes: Since potatoes take a little more time to fully grow, about 120 days, you may opt for the fastest-growing varieties.
  • Carrots: For roots that grow this deep, you will have to go for containers that are a little deeper than what the plant is supposed to reach, maybe twice the size.
  • Beans and peas: These ones are well-known for their nitrogen-fixing abilities, but given that they grow weak, you will have to place stakes in the container.
  • Eggplant: There are so many eggplant varieties that you can try, but note that it doesn’t do well when it is too cold, and you may have to plant it indoors or outdoors when the temperatures are more conducive.
  • Leafy greens: These are absolute favorites for gardeners who cook them or add them to their salads. Spinach plant, lettuce, and kale are the top options because all you have to do is chop off a few leaves and go back for more after new growth.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a must-have for container kitchen gardens, and you can also have one growing in your space, just as long as you can stake or cage them for extra support.
  • Cucumber: You will need these for your salads and will actually enjoy planting them. They are relatively easy to care for, but the vining types may need trellises or cages for support.9
  • Onions: You use onions the most in your kitchen, and you will love to grow some in your home, but be ready to regularly thin between growing plants to improve growth.
  • Celery: When you learn how to grow celery, you will appreciate just how simple yet rewarding it is to plant it.

How To Grow Vegetables in Pots

There is nothing as rewarding as finally getting to plant what you eat: healthy and organic vegetables right from your garden.26

The very first step is to figure out what exactly you want to plant. It could be a single vegetable type or several of them in different containers, or some sharing a planter.

Remember that each plant has its needs, and you want to do thorough research on that before deciding.

When it comes to plants like spinach, lettuce, carrots, and beans, your best bet is to start them from seeds that you plant directly into the potting soil in the planter. You will then follow the particular seed’s instruction when it comes to the spacing (usually 3-4 inches apart).

Alternatively, some plants can always start from seedlings or transplants, and you can sow by simply removing them from their nursery container, loosening the roots, adding them to the container, and finally filling up with the potting mix.

In matters of feeding, you can add a liquid fertilizer, maybe once a week, and as for watering, once in a few days will do.

If your container tends to dry out rather quickly and you want to reduce how many times you water the plant, you can always add a layer of mulch that is made of compost, straw, and other organic materials.

Thankfully, vegetables in containers are not as susceptible to pests and diseases as garden vegetables, but you still have to keep an eye on any abnormalities and take the necessary measures.

How To Plant Flowers in a Flower Pot

There is no doubt that flowers are top choices for all your landscaping needs. You don’t even have to go for a massive botany garden-like design because all you need is a container, and they should be just fine.

You can plant them indoors or outdoors and use them to light up the room or add some color to your home. A bonus is that there are fragrant varieties that are very good at attracting pollinators that will be drawn to your compound in no time.

Have you always wanted to have a flower garden but don’t have the space? You can start with planting them in containers instead in very simple steps.

For starters, you will need a large-size plater, especially if you are going to plant several flowers in the same place, which is very common. You will be able to grow flowers that contrast nicely with each other to help add life and color to your garden.

Planting flowers is just the same as any other plant already discussed.

All that you need to do is transplant it from its nursery container to the final place that it will call home. The most common arrangement that gardeners use is the 3-plant container planting method (thrill, spill, fill), which proves to work beautifully when it comes to flowers.

For starters, you will have the main plant growing right in the middle; this will be the show-stopper of them all, the one that grows the tallest and the brightest, maybe one that reaches 18-24 inches long.11

Giant flower planters with blue and yellow flowers.

(Image: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar43)

This thriller plant will give height to the container and will serve as the focal plant.

Secondly, you are going to fill the container with other stunning smaller flowers. Choose colors that will blend easily with the focal plant and have them growing around it.

Lastly, of course, you are going to top it all off with a spiller or, in other words, a trailing plant that will fall all over the edges of the container.

You won’t believe what this combination will do to the entire arrangement, especially if you choose to have a hanging container.27

Tips for Container Gardening (Flowers)

Virtually everyone loves flowers growing in their home, and it is every gardener’s dream to have a flourishing flower garden.

If this is your very first time planting these stunning plants, you don’t want to mess anything up. This is why you will need a few tips to help you own the most stunning container garden filled with gorgeous flowers.

  1. Everything starts with your choice of soil, or in this case, the potting mix. There is a lot of emphasis on not using garden soil and going for lightweight and easy-draining mixes.
    You can find these soilless media in shops, and they will determine how well your flowers are going to grow.
  2. Another very important decision when it comes to planting flowers in containers is finding the right planter for the job. Your flowers will be very particular about needing a lot of space to grow and will need a sizable planter that will retain moisture over a long time.
  3. You also don’t want to go wrong when it comes to the choice of flower for planting.
    Yes, you may want the showiest and most vibrant of them all, but there are more factors to consider than that. You will want to go for the ones that are comfortable growing in your region, particularly if you plan on growing them outdoors.
  4. A single flower in a container doesn’t seem exciting? Well, you can have as many varieties as you want growing in the same place as long as they will be able to fit and look great while at it.
    But remember, all these flowers are supposed to have the same growing needs in matters of sunlight, watering, and nutrients.
  5. If you want to make the flowers in your container look amazing, you want to pick those in different colors and the ones with different growing patterns. The thrill, spill, and fill method works like a charm, and while you are at it, make sure that you play around with the colors to make your garden look way better.

Looking After Flower Planters

Planting a breathtaking flower garden is one thing, but making it look great all through the season is another. You can easily get the first step right, pick the perfect combination, use the best planter that makes the flowers stand out more, and make a bold statement with your choices, but all that work will only be worth it if you know how to care and maintain the flowers growing in the containers.

  1. Regular watering is one of the best ways to keep your flowers looking fresh all through the day. It should be deep every single time and done only when the potting mix starts drying up.
    So, you will find yourself watering more during extremely hot summers, but don’t ever overdo it because you could possibly kill your flowers.
  2. Apart from water, your flowers will also urgently need food, which in the plant’s world means fertilizer. Potting mix is not like garden soil, and there will be a need for additional liquid for the plants to draw nutrients from the mix.
  3. There are many gardeners who avoid planting flowers due to the fear that they need more attention when it comes to deadheading or pruning. This is the problem with growing flowers because they require some extra care in that light.
    But is it not that tasking anyway? You only have to chop off the dead flowers and leaves, and for other flowers, you may have to take away the entire stalk to give the plant room for more growth.
  4. Knowing how to overwinter your plants is another handy skill that any gardener should have.28 The very last thing that you would want is to have diseases and pests overwintering in the containers.
    So, if you have annual plants, you will have to remove them, empty out the soil, and even wash the planters; as for perennials, you would rather chop them back and maybe add a layer of mulch to keep the plants safe in the winter.12
  5. There will come a point where your plants will need to be replenished. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that because it is inevitable that your flowers will eventually have to end their journey.
    There are also cases where plants die during the growing season or dry up when the summers get too hot, so you may have to replace your flowers at some point in the year.

What Is the Best Time To Plant Flowers in Pots?

Ask literally any gardener, and they will tell you just how important perfect timing is when planting. If you fail to plant at the right time, you may have problems with your plants down the line; either they will be too uncomfortable or just rebel and decide not to grow as you would expect.

Timing matters because there are seasons and weather conditions to take into consideration, so you need to plant your flowers at the right time if you want the best results.

For starters, do you know your region’s frost dates? You should because these are the ones that will guide you when planting.

Frost dates will tell you when it is the safest time to grow your plants indoors because you know that flowers can be a little delicate, especially when in their seedling stage. For the plants that you buy in nurseries, the best time to plant them in the containers is in fall, at least some 6 weeks before the last frost date; this way, they will have a lot more time to establish themselves before winter comes.

Alternatively, you can also start seeds indoors around the same time. Some gardeners actually prefer this method because the seeds germinate in a cozy spot away from the chill, and this way, they get to grow in perfect conditions, at least until they are ready for transplanting outdoors.

But still, even after that, you can choose to leave your container indoors, providing everything that it needs until you are sure that it is safe to go outside.

Tips For Gardening in Large Outdoor Planters

Nothing screams elegance like growing your plants in majestic containers. They can be pretty impressive just as long as you have the space for them.

These ones are unlike the small planters that you can carry around as you wish. The larger the pot, the less portable it is, and you should be very careful when picking the perfect spot for them because it may just be your plants’ permanent home.

You can place these giants in the deck, backyard, or virtually anywhere that they can fit and where you are certain they will bring the effect that you want.

They automatically improve your curb appeal, and it is understandable that you would be interested in them instead of the tiny pots. One thing that you already know about container gardening is the fact that you need to use potting soil, not the common garden one.29

So, that should give you an idea of what to expect when using such massive containers, that it may cost a pretty penny, not just to buy the planter but also to fill them up with high-quality soil.

Luckily, there are some tricks that you can use to avoid all these costs.

For instance, you could fill about a third of the planter with other materials that are safe and lightweight, like tin cans or plastics, then cover them with some fabric before adding in your potting soil.10

What about the plant options, you may ask. What can you grow in these massive planters?

Tiny plants are a definite no because the pot will be too overwhelming. You will have to go for those that are a little larger, and for the best results, use the 3-plant method to get the planter to be showy, fill up more, and have trailing plants to finish the look.4

Handy Tips For Patio Gardening

Are you thinking of how you can make the most of your container patio gardening? The following tips are going to come in handy.

  1. Location really matters: Where you place your container is going to change a lot of things, especially if dealing with massive and heavy planters that are tasking to shift. You need to find a spot that is well-lit and maybe one that is easily accessible by a water hose.
  2. Pay more attention to the most productive plants: There is no need to wait all through the season just to get a few fruits or leaves from your garden. You would rather go for varieties that bear fruits early on and are very productive.
  3. Dwarf varieties are the best options: Container gardening is different, and there is less space to work with, so it is best to go for the dwarf varieties that you are sure will not give you a hard time with planting. They will only need a little space and will be easier to care for.
  4. Give window boxes a try: One container planting method that is making waves is the use of window boxes. They actually have a lot of space inside and can easily accommodate your favorite plants while allowing you pretty easy access from your house.
  5. Make full use of levels: You want to maximize the patio space as much as possible, and that is where adding levels comes in handy. Apart from saving space, they also have a way of capturing your eye and looking better than simple single containers.
  6. Focus more on plants with shallow root systems: The advantage of plants that are compact is that they do not need so much space, since the roots stay relatively small, there will be no need for massive planters.
  7. For bigger plants, go for the ones that grow upright: You will notice that growing plants that are slimmer and taller on your patio is a great way to save space, you will actually end up with more plants in your garden in comparison to growing those that grow wider and bushier.
  8. Combine plants whenever you can: If you have a massive pot, it would help to have multiple plants in the same place, and here is where you have to choose plants that complement each other, like peppers and chilies of different colors growing in one place.

Tips You Need For Container Gardening

Container gardening is fun and so rewarding even when you are only dealing with a tiny space.30 You can actually make great use of this planting method and get so much and some more from it, the same way you would when planting conventionally in the ground.

Here are some final tips that you may find valuable in your container gardening journey.

  1. Find a spot with full sunlight for your vegetables: Leafy greens absolutely love basking in the sun, so you may need to find a western or southern exposure spot for the best access to light. This is even more important if you are growing them indoors where there is restricted access.
  2. Make sure that your containers are easy to reach for care and maintenance: The last thing that you want is watering and other maintenance needs to be a chore. You don’t want to haul a massive can over a long distance just to water your plants, so you would rather have a spot that you can easily reach with a hose.
  3. Protect your containers from direct wind: This is very important placing your plants in very windy spots makes them dry out rather quickly. Secondly, considering just how easily the planters get top-heavy, they will be easy to topple over when the wind is too much.
  4. Support is crucial for some plants: When it comes to vegetable varieties like tomatoes and cucumbers, you will definitely have to factor in the aspect of support because otherwise, it will be tasking for them to grow. If you have issues with the staking and caging, you would rather go for other types, like leafy greens.
  5. Harvest your vegetables and herbs as often as you can: One of the best parts about planting herbs and vegetables is that you get to harvest several times from the same plant.
    You can chop off a few leaves and stalks that you need and give the plant some more time to keep growing. Harvesting often actually encourages more growth.

Care and Maintenance of a Container Garden

Now that you know just about everything that you want to learn about container gardening, there is one more thing: knowing how to care for your plants. Being in containers makes maintenance easier in comparison to growing directly in the ground, and that is one of the advantages you have got.

A watering can and three potted plants bathe in sunlight with a bird perched on top of one of the pots.

(Image: Debrazee44)

So, how should you look after the plants in containers?


You already know by now that vegetables and flowers need a lot of light.

Depending on the variety, you may have to provide at least 6 hours of sunlight every single day. However, it doesn’t mean exposing your plants to extreme heat because that could cause complications.

So, you may have to provide a shade to protect them.


There are a couple of factors that will determine how much you water your plants.

For instance, the current weather will decide because the plants dry out faster when it is too hot outside. On the other hand, you may end up watering smaller containers more because the moisture dries out faster in comparison to the larger planters.


Again, it is not recommended to add common garden soil when container gardening. You will only end up with compacted soil that doesn’t drain well, and you know what that means for your plants.

You should only use potting mix for your planting and even when repotting the plants to larger containers when they get too big.


Container plants need a lot of food to grow healthy and strong.

Watering the pots causes some of the nutrients to wash away, so you may have to keep replenishing them as much as possible. You can start with feeding once in two weeks and adjust accordingly based on how the plant responds.231

  1. Pruning

The whole point of container gardening is to revamp your space and serve your landscaping needs. But that may be a problem if there are dead leaves and flowers all over the container.

Here is where you will need to deadhead and prune regularly, not just to enhance the appearance but also to encourage the plant to grow.

How Do You Care for Container Plants?

Care and maintenance of container plants is super easy. All you have to do is to place the containers in a well-lit spot, or slightly shaded depending on the plant, and provide food and water.

Watering could be done a couple of times a week, or even every single day, depending on the type of plant and the weather, and as for food or fertilizer, potted plants may need liquid fertilizer twice a month.

Lastly, you may also have to occasionally or regularly prune or deadhead the plants in your container to make them look better and encourage them to grow.

A rooftop container garden filled with a variety of flowers and plants.

(Image: Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner45)

You don’t have to let a lack of space come in the way of your gardening dreams. If you have a green thumb and whatever you touch turns to gold, then you can start a container garden right on your patio, driveway, lawn, or even balcony.

Container gardens come in so many forms, and you will have fun planting your favorite vegetables, flowers, or herbs. It doesn’t matter what you want to grow, just as long as you will be able to provide everything that it needs and maintain it.

The very first thing that you should do is to narrow down what you want to plant.

Do you love stunning flowers, or would you rather plant vegetables and herbs that you can use in your kitchen? They are all pretty simple to care for, and you will find gardening quite rewarding.

You will also have to decide on the type of container that you are going to use; its size and material go a long way to determine whether you will be successful or not.

You can get as creative as you want when it comes to this planting method, but the most important thing that you should have at the back of your mind is that you have to use special potting mixes in your planters and not just garden soil.

This way, you can avoid drainage issues and other complications, and container gardening will be fun and simple as it is meant to be.

Read More About Container Gardening


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