How to Get Started with Container Gardening - Eshelman Mill Gardens
Container Garden

Container gardening is a wonderful solution for many plant lovers. If you’ve ever wanted your own garden but you don’t seem to have the space, a container garden on your patio may be the way to go. As long as you have access to the sun, your plants can grow in pots or baskets.

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Container Gardening 101

Benefits of Container Gardening

Your urge to garden might be stomped out by other circumstances, like living arrangements or space constrictions. For instance, if you live in an apartment or an urban setting, your space of gardening is quite limited. Container gardening is one of the best solutions for this problem. You can hang pots, or arrange them on your patio, window sill or balcony. Adding just a few baskets or
pots can make your whole living area more relaxing and more inviting.

Another benefit of growing plants and flowers in containers is that you can move them around to suit your needs. You can move them as often as you like when you’re arranging furniture or other things on your patio. However, keep your plant’s needs in mind when you move it. Make sure it receives the same amount of sunlight and water as it did before it was moved.

Yet another benefit of container gardening is that you can grow flowers and plants that you normally wouldn’t be able to because of your climate or soil. You can control these external circumstances because of the the containers’ versatility to simulate any environment.

Arranging Containers

You can make an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of containers and plants by hanging them at different heights. Plus, hanging them will allow you to make the most of the conservative amount of space you have. This is sometimes called “vertical gardening.”

Get creative with your use of limited space. Find different ways of displaying your pots without sacrificing any room. For instance, you could arrange your plants on an old, wooden. Paint the ladder a rainbow of colors, a solid color or just whitewash it. The final look will match your unique style.

Colorful Flower Pots


Container gardening requires more time than traditional gardening. Although you usually don’t have to weed pots and baskets, you do have to water them frequently. Because the plants are in containers, they don’t benefit from absorbing moisture from the soil or from rainfall. In especially hot weather, you may find you have to water them more than once a day. However, don’t over-water your container plants; over-watering is just as unhealthy for plants as under-watering.

You also shouldn’t have to spend time dividing your plants, unless you buy pots that are too small. Research your plants to find out how big they will eventually become, then buy your pots according to their final size. You should be able to find out how much root space it should be given to each plant.

Plan Your Container Garden

  • Write a list of all the plants you’d like to have in your container garden.
  • Do the necessary research to find out how big and what shape your pots should be.
  • Plant each one with a generous mix of potting soil and loam.
  • Make sure to line ceramic pots with plastic to contain moisture.
  • Also, use rocks or pottery shards at the bottom of each pot so each pot drains well.

Best Plants for Container Gardening

Here is a list of plants that grow well in containers, along with the best methods for growing them.

Decorative Plants

1. Flowers bring brightness and cheer to your patio or balcony. Nearly any flower can grow in a pot, so you will have no limitations in choosing the right flowers for you. Flowers will add beauty and a pop of color to your space.

2. Succulents look beautiful when you mix and match them by color or texture. Because they have small root systems, these plants can grow in just about any kind of container, large or small. However, these plants require a specific maintenance routing. Buy potting soil used for cacti, and only water the soil when it’s completely dry.


3. Terrariums are a great way to make your patio space interesting and spark curiosity in your visitors. To create a beautiful terrarium, add an inch of pebbles or small stones to the base of a glass container. Then, add a layer of activated charcoal, followed by a layer of potting soil. Finally, nestle your plants on top, from largest to smallest.

4. Trees can also grow in pots. Specific varieties work well in relatively small spaces. Look for trees that don’t grow to 20 feet or less so you can easily move them as needed. Generally, a tree will not outgrow its pot. Growing trees can add dimension and color to your patio. Plus, if you grow a fruit tree, you can enjoy produce year-round.

Herbs and Vegetables

1. Small root vegetables grow very well in containers. Carrots, green onions, radishes and turnips are easy to plant and easy to care for. These vegetables grow best in loose soil, so use a potting soil with perlite. The perlite will keep the soil from clumping or crowding the vegetable.

2. Potatoes are well-suited for container gardening. Potatoes need a container that is tall enough to hill up the soil around the stalks as they grow. Harvesting potatoes from pots is much easier than harvesting them from the field. Just tip the pot over and pluck them out of the dirt.

3. Herbs are terrific to grow on your patio or balcony because they take up relatively little space. And, who doesn’t love fresh herbs for cooking? If you’re new to container gardening or don’t have a green thumb, start with basil. It’s simple to grow and will clearly tell you when it needs watered.

Get Creative

Of course, many more kinds of plants and flowers are well-suited for container gardening. This list is only a small fraction of the plants that can grow in pots. Experiment with color, size, texture and placement. Use a variety of containers for a playful look or a single kind of container for a minimalist look. Work until you find a style that suits you and your decor.

Ready for a new patio? Download our free guide –  5 Essential Elements in Every Backyard Oasis – for inspiration and helpful checklists.

See also:

Inspiration for Your Fall Planters in Lancaster County

Herb Garden: Your Ultimate Guide

Beyond the Pond: 15 Inspired Water Features

How to Get Started with Container Gardening
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