Container Gardens for the Beginning Gardener

Did you give up on a flower garden because you thought you had a brown or a black thumb. How would you like to grow a green thumb? With a little know how, some soil, water and a container, you can change the color of your gardening thumb.

With container and pot gardening, you are now capable of having your own mini garden no matter how little the space you have available. You now no longer have to admire the neighbor's plants and wishing you could do the same.

Take the Container Gardening Plunge

The best advantage to container gardening over the traditional garden is the portability of the containers. You are able to move your containers to different areas for different effects. You are also able to have a small garden on the deck of your apartment, around your mobile home, on your houseboat or even while you are RV-ing around the country.

When you are limited on space, you are still able to have plants for every season. You will need to do some research on the size of containers, plant growth availability in your area, and what tickles your own fancy.

Containers and Variety

While gardening isn’t only for the skilled or professionals - there are always tips and tricks that can be learned and taught no matter what your skill level is. You would be surprised at how many gardeners never think to use containers as part of their gardening enjoyment.

Variety is the spice of life, and of your container garden. An old washtub, a tipped over wheelbarrow, even a watering can that has outlived its usefulness all make great containers. They also add to your landscape design.

You may have noticed while making your daily commute the odd items that are hosting a variety of plants in the yards you pass. You may have seen old wash tubs, hollowed out tree trunks or even in some instances small boats being used to house different types of bedding plants. Just be sure that any container you decide on has some type of drain holes. You don’t want your plants to drown if it rains.

Beginning container gardening doesn’t have to be expensive. use your imagination and plant in whatever is lying around the house or garage.

You can also start out with the less expensive terra cotta pots until you get your bearings on what will look good in your yard.

By using containers for your gardening, you will be surprised how you will be able to plant and grow grandma's favorite azalea. With container gardening, you will be able to control the conditions that are needed for the plants that you choose to experiment with.


When you start diving into the types of plants that you wish to use keep things simple. Because you are a beginner, you will want to have plants that require the same type of soil and the same amount of watering. Also consider the amount of sun or shade needed for growth.

Match the size of your container to the size of your plants. You want your container to look full, like the plant is ready to bust from its cage and at the same time, you will want to allow for summer growth.

You can also combine annuals, perennials and bulbs all in one container, if that is what you wish. Like I said, plants will grow in anything and they don’t mind who their neighbor is as long as all the plants like the same kind of soil and the same amount of water.

With medium and larger containers, purchase at least a minimum of three plants to give the garden a fuller look.

When purchasing plants, think about the design you are going for. Buy tall plants (like a spike grass) for the center of the container. Then add smaller, colorful plants around the spike. Petunias come to mind.

If your container is tall, think about getting a plant that will weep over the side of the pot. Ivy and vinca are a good choice.

Wintering Your Container Garden

If you used terra cotta containers, or any kind of breakable container you can do one of two things to keep them safe during the winter months. The easiest is to make sure the soil in the container is completely dry before the first freeze. Any moisture in the soil will expand when it freezes and break your container. The other method is to place them in the garage or basement where the chances of them freezing are nil.

In short, the ability to have a container garden is not as hard or as intimidating as it seems. Start out with about six types of plants so that you can experiment with this type of gardening.

Have some fun with it. If one plant doesn’t work for you, give a different plant a try. Just don’t give up, everyone has a little green in their thumb!