Container Gardening Basics Container Gardening Basics

If you have a small or paved garden, or maybe only a terrace, then container gardening might be the answer for you. You can buy small or large, decorative or plain containers in which to display your plants, but you need to check out a few things first:

  • Where are you going to put your containers? If they are overshadowed by tall walls or fencing, you may need to reposition them.
  • Just as when you plant a garden you first need to check out when and where the sunlight hits a certain spot, you should also do this with container gardening.
  • What sort of plants do you plan on putting in your containers? Again a few things need checking out, such as the expected height of plants relative to each other.
  • Which are best, annuals or perennials?
  • You'll need time to help your planted containers thrive. Plants that are in containers need just as much care as plants in the ground, so consider how much time you’ll have available before you start.


Following the eight steps outlined below should get you well on the way to successful container gardening.

  1. Set a day when you will be able to go outside first thing in the morning, mid-morning, early afternoon, mid-afternoon, and early evening. Make a note of where the light falls at each time of the day. You may find that some areas get very little sunlight no matter what the time of day.
  2. Based on the above observations, decide exactly where you are going to place your containers.
  3. Once you've decided where to position your containers, then you need soil. Make sure it has plenty of vegetation; if not then you will need to use compost.
  4. If you live in an area that has a lot of rain, you may need holes in the bottom of your pots to allow for drainage. If your area is dry, you may not need the holes, but you will need to check that the soil remains moist or the roots will not do well.
  5. You need to have some idea of how tall your plants will grow. If you have some very tall plants in with smaller ones, then the smaller ones may not receive enough sunlight if they are blocked by the taller ones.
  6. Perennials or annuals? Perennials, other than tulips and daffodils, may have tap roots that are too long for the container. If this is the case, then the plant will become straggly and could die. Transplanting those which have become too big for the container is not an easy job, and many plants are lost this way. Tulips, daffodils and similar plants should be fine because the bulbs are left in from one season to the next. Annuals require more work because they need replacing every year.
  7. Once your containers are planted, you'll need to feed the soil often, but not too often - it's not good for the plants. The soil in containers needs more feeding than garden soil because unlike garden soil, the soil in a container does not have its own eco-system.
  8. Container gardening may not need as much work as a full garden, but the plants do have to be watered regularly, and as weeds come up, they should be removed by hand. If you do this every night it won't take more than a minute or two and your plants should thrive.


If you follow the above advice, you should soon have a thriving and colorful display. With just a little forethought and work, you will soon find yourself a success at container gardening.

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