A Beginner’s Guide to Container Gardening

Bright red flowers in hanging planter on post of white pergola

Container gardening is a great way to grow flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. You don’t have to worry about how much gardening space you have or the condition of the soil and you can easily move your plants around as you see fit.

Gear, Soil, and Containers

Gardening in containers isn’t very complex and all you need are gloves, a trowel, a hand fork and a pair of shears or kitchen scissors for gear. Use a properly drained all-purpose potting soil mix rather than soil from the ground, because potting soil has water retentive elements and a balance of nutrients ideal for plants. It is also free from weeds, pests, and disease and won’t compact to a water impenetrable mass like garden soil. Choose well-draining containers to suit your stye and budget but make sure they are large enough to accommodate full-grown plants and their root systems.

Container Flowers

Space flowers about 4 inches apart and they will grow to cover your container’s surface. If you are combining different types of flowers in a single container, consider their final heights when deciding on their placements. Plant the tallest in the middle, low trailing plants at the edge and medium ones in between. A few flowers that do especially well in containers are nasturtiums, soft alyssum, pansies, zinnias, marigolds, and phlox.

Container Herbs

Potted herbs are a popular container gardening choice since they can easily be grown in a small space. Plant a few pots filled with chives, mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, and marjoram and you can quickly snip a few herbs to add to your recipes.

Container Fruits

Strawberries are a very common potted plant. Your garden center may have special pots specifically for strawberries with holes on the sides for their vines. You can even grow dwarf varieties of orange, fig, apple, and pear trees in large containers.

Container Vegetables

With the exception of some root crops and asparagus, vegetables like eggplants, chiles, squash, green onions, swiss chard, and spinach grow well in containers. Lettuce grows quickly and is easy to harvest, and radishes only take 20 days to reach full size! Tomatoes are usually everyone’s favorite vegetable (okay, yes they are “technically” a fruit) to grow. Add a stake or trellis for your tomato plants to climb and add some basil plants to the container for a natural pest repellent and to improve the flavor of the tomatoes. Other vegetables that grow successfully in a container with a stake or trellis are smaller varieties of peas, pole beans, bush zucchini and cucumbers, and peppers.

Water and Fertilize

Your container plants rely totally on you for all of their needs so make sure they are fed and watered regularly. Water if after inserting your finger in the soil it is dry beyond your first knuckle. Apply a liquid fertilizer solution to the soil in your containers about every 3 weeks. If you’re growing organic use a mix of equal parts of diluted liquid fish emulsion and kelp.

Consider Location

Where are you going to place your container plants? Do they need full or partial sun? Shade? Do you want them to receive rain? With an Arcadia louvered roof you can control the amount of sun and rain your container garden receives, ensuring the best possible outcome for your plants.