Ultimate Guide to Container Gardening

Gardening is a great activity for many people. Some people love to create a garden for decoration, while others plant herbs and vegetables that can be used for cooking. However, for those who have limited space at home, it can be quite challenging to create a garden. But that does not mean they can no longer plant. If you have limited space, you can instead opt for container gardening. 

Container gardening is the method of growing plants in containers like pots rather than into the ground. It is a perfect type of gardening for people living in urban areas where having an actual garden is not possible. It is a space-efficient and mobile way to plant, as you can arrange the containers wherever you want to set them up. If you are looking for more ideas about this, read on as we’re giving you the ultimate guide to container gardening. 

What are the Different Types of Containers That Can Be Used?

small pots of plants

Here’s a list of the different types of containers that you can use for gardening. Each of these has its unique traits that are perfect for different types of plants and as well as growing conditions. 

Clay or Terra Cotta Containers

Clay and terra cotta containers are absorbent, and they dry out more quickly compared to other materials. This characteristic also helps prevent the soil from getting too saturated. Therefore, if you choose this type of container for your plants, you need to keep in mind that plants in clay pots need to be watered more frequently. On the other hand, clay pots may be waterproofed if you wish. 

Wood Containers

These include barrels, buckets, baskets, and window boxes. One of the problems with this type of container is moisture. Therefore, it can help if you will seal the wood or put another container inside of it, such as plastic. 

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers for plants come in a wide variety. There are plastic nursery pots that come with plants when you purchase them, and as well as highly decorative ones. When using plastic containers, you need to make sure that they have enough holes in the bottom for suitable drainage to prevent the roots of the plants from getting too wet. 

Concrete Containers

Concrete containers or planters offer a formal look to the garden. These containers are made with poured concrete or concrete blocks. You can actually ask some building sites for blocks that they will no longer use, as you can utilize them to create concrete containers for your plants. It is a great idea if you are short on cash. 

Ceramic and Metal Containers

Both of these containers are usually used for indoor houseplants. They come in many decorative options, too. For these containers, you also need to check the drainage and make sure there are enough holes. It’s because most of these containers are made for decorative purposes only. If that is the case, you may need to put another pot inside of it for proper drainage. 

Hanging Baskets

You can also make hanging baskets out of the different materials that we’ve mentioned here, including wire. They can dry out very quickly. Therefore, it is important that you keep an eye on them. Always ensure that they are in a spot where they can drain onto the ground and dry out or water them more often. Also, ensure that they are hanging from a secure and sturdy hook. 

Keep in mind that choosing the right container for your garden is essential, as it can make or break your garden. You can also check out these articles for more information:

What are the Best Vegetables and Plants for Container Gardening?

onions planted in a container

It is great to plant vegetables in containers as they can reduce problems posed by weather and critters. If you are wondering about what vegetables you can plant in your container garden, here’s a list that might help you:

Tomatoes

It is very easy and satisfying to grow tomatoes in containers. When planting tomatoes in containers, you will need to use staking or a tomato cage to keep the plant from bending and breaking the vines. When buying tomato seedlings, choose those that are short and do not have blossoms yet. Also, the bigger the tomato variety, the bigger pot or container you will need to use. For more ideas, you can check out our article, Best Way to Grow Tomatoes in a Container.

Peas

You can plant peas in early spring and when it gets cool in the fall. You can choose among English peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. Depending on the variety you choose, most pea plants need some type of support. When you plant them in early spring, they will finish producing once it gets warm, so you can pull them out and plant something else in the container. 

Potatoes

Compared to the potatoes bought in grocery stores, freshly picked ones taste entirely different. They usually have higher water content and a bitter, earthy flavor to usher in the freshness of spring. When you choose to grow potatoes in containers, you will need a lot of water and soil. But the end result is worth the resources and effort. Also, planting potatoes in containers can save them from fungus or blight, which spreads among in-ground plants. For more tips, you can check out our article, How to Grow Potatoes in Containers.

Squash

Squash is an easy vegetable to grow in containers. It is ideal for them to have a lot of light, good soil, and consistent watering and feeding. When growing squash in a container, make sure that you choose smaller varieties. Avoid the giant types that can weigh more than 20 pounds as these can topple the containers. 

Lettuce and Salad Greens

It is fast to grow lettuce and other salad greens in containers. It also gives you more flexibility to control weeds and pests more easily compared to in-ground planting. Most lettuces and salad greens are spring crops. But there are also some that can withstand the summer heat. You can also move the container to a cool shady area as the growing season heats up to extend your harvest. 

Hot and Sweet Peppers

Hot and sweet peppers look beautiful when grown in containers. They can grow in any large container with lots of sunlight, good drainage, and consistent watering. However, avoid dry soil and over wet soil for peppers. During stormy weather, you can simply move the containers inside. There are also many different types of peppers to choose from. 

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are fast-growing vegetables that are usually grown in containers. These plants love water. That’s why it is great to place them in large plastic or ceramic containers that can help retain soil moisture. You can choose between bush cucumbers and vining cucumbers. Both of them are good in salads, and either can grow well in a container. 

Radishes

Radishes can grow fast, and they do not have plenty of space. In fact, you can grow them in containers that are 4 to 6 inches deep. However, they will bolt in hot weather, but you can save them by moving the container into the shade or adding water to cool them down. Radishes also have many types and flavors that you can choose from. 

Arugula

Arugula or spicy arugula leaves are delicious, and it has edible flowers that are sweet. Aside from that, they also look beautiful. This plant does not need a large container. A pot that is 8 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter will work well. It is best planted in a container so that you can move it. It needs around 6 hours of direct sunlight but avoid the scorching afternoon sun. Let it get full morning sun, then move it into the shade in the afternoon where it can get partial sunlight. 

Eggplant

Eggplant is also a good vegetable to plant in containers, and they also work as ornamental plants. However, some eggplant varieties can get heavy. Therefore, avoid those types in your container garden. Try to look for compact varieties like Hansel and Fairytale, as they are tasty and beautiful. You will need large containers to support the roots of eggplants and their bush-like growth. 

If you want more ideas, you can check out these articles:

The Pros and Cons of Container Gardening

beautiful flowers in containers

There are many reasons to grow in containers. One of its biggest benefits is that you can place the containers anywhere you like. However, like many other things, container gardening also has its drawbacks. Therefore, weighing its possible advantages and disadvantages will help you make the best decision. With that, here are the pros and cons of container gardening.

Pros

Improved Accessibility

Container gardening provides better accessibility for everyone, regardless of individual circumstances. For example, if you find it difficult to bend over or get on your knees to plant and harvest vegetables from your garden, you can instead plant in containers that you can place in a more accessible area, such as on tables. It is also best for people who live in urban areas who do not own or have access to a plot of land. You can use container gardening to liven up your balcony, concrete pad, or deck. 

Better Growth

When you grow plants in containers, you can place them in a highly visible location to about forgetting about them. Therefore, this can lead to better care and better growth. Also, containers give people the flexibility to position the plants in areas that are most advantageous for their growth, such as in spots that has the right amount of sun and shade. 

Portability

One of the best things about container gardening is that they can be kept away temporarily or permanently to new, more amenable places if needed, unlike fixed garden plots that are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, critters, and pests. This aspect is very useful, especially during the winter season, as it allows you to extend the life of your plants by keeping them indoors. 

Express Creativity

You can also get creative in container gardening. You can use different kinds of containers or repurpose other things into a plant container. It offers endless creative possibilities to people. Therefore, if you are looking for a new hobby, why not try container gardening. 

Cons

Pots Dry Out Fast

One of the drawbacks of container gardening is that potted plants tend to dry out much faster compared to those that are grown in the ground. This is true, especially during hot and windy days. When temperatures rise over 85°F or 29°C, many container plants should be watered twice a day to keep them hydrated. 

Requires More Fertilizer

For plants grown in containers, additional feeding may be needed. This is because their space is limited, and the roots are not able to seek out more nutrient-prone areas. Even though you use the best growing medium available, the plants, at some point, will still need supplemental feedings to make sure that they are receiving all the nutrients needed to be strong. 

Containers May Cost a Lot

There are indeed a lot of different containers, and some of them can be expensive. You need to factor in all the extra soil and fertilizer on top of the plants when choosing a container. Unless you are fine with plain pots, this is something that you need to keep in mind. 

Plants May Outgrow Their Containers

Aside from containers needing to be replaced over time, plants can also outgrow the containers. This means that plants need to be repotted as they grow. This can be just excruciating when you have other things to focus on, unlike plants growing in the garden that does not need this extra upkeep. 

Best Tips for a Successful Container Gardening

person preparing a container for plants

If you are looking into trying out container gardening, here are the best tips that we can give you:

Make sure to choose the right soil.

When planting in containers, always use quality commercial potting soil. Do not use soil that comes directly from your garden, as it can harden into a solid mass when dry. The quality potting soil also needs to include generous amounts of peat moss, perlite, compost, vermiculite, or rotted manure. Keep in mind that inexpensive potting soils are not always great. Therefore, make sure that you read the label before buying. 

Match the light conditions to your chosen plant.

When you choose plants, make sure that you know whether they grow best in the sun or shade. This way, you can avoid mixing sun- and shade-loving plants in one pot. 

Try to plant in layers.

For decorative plants, it is better to plant them in layers. In one container, try to include a tall, showy plant, a bushy medium plant, and a trailing blooming plant. Choose plant varieties that complement each other in color and leaf form.

Water your container plants more frequently.

Container plants need frequent watering. Therefore, water them whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. During hot, sunny days, you may need to irrigate them daily, especially hanging baskets that dry out faster. You can also opt for a drip irrigation system that has a timer to water your plants every day automatically. But a watering can and garden hose will work well, too. 

Put fertilizer regularly. 

To keep your vegetables and flowers in top form all season, make sure that you fertilize them. There are some soils that have slow-release fertilizer already mixed in, but it is still better to add a few drops of liquid fertilizer when you water the plants. Remember that vegetables and flowering plants are heavy feeders and will flourish with an extra amount of plant food. 

Renew and replace your plants.

Even though you take good care of your pants, some annuals and perennials will start to look tired by late summer. Therefore, you can remove them carefully from the container and plant in one or two replacements to provide your container a second life. 

Make sure to clean up before winter arrives.

When your annuals and vegetables have perished, toss them on your compost pile and empty the containers. Terra-cotta pots and ceramic containers may crack when left outdoors over the winter with soil in them. If you like to save any perennials or roses that you have in other containers, you can directly plant them in the garden if you have one. 

If you need more tips and ideas about container gardening, you can check out these articles:

Conclusion

Container gardening is indeed a smart solution, especially for those who have limited spaces at home but would like to grow their own vegetables and other plants. We hope that this helped you in learning more about container gardening. If you are searching for more information associated with container gardening, here are some helpful links to our related articles: