Things to Know Before You Start a Container Garden

In principle, container gardening is not particularly hard. After all, you really need only four things: a container, plants, soil, and water. On the surface, it is not that different from gardening in a typical landscape garden bed. Many of the same flowers and vegetables common in a garden can also be grown in containers. There are, however, some unique considerations when you begin container gardening if you want to keep your plants alive and looking their best. 

The following list summarized the important things to know about container gardening and offers article links for learning more about these subjects. 

  • 01 of 05

    Container Gardening: How to Start

    container garden picture of pentas, petunias and sweet potato vine
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    There are many reasons why container gardening might make sense for you, including:

    • You can control the soil mixture, allowing you to grow plants that might not be suited to your garden soil. Tropicals, succulents, and other specialized plants can easily be grown in containers. 
    • You can move containers around, in effect "remodeling" your landscape whenever the mood hits. Moving containers around also lets you take advantage of shifting sun patterns. 
    • Prized plants can be moved indoors when the weather gets cold. 
  • 02 of 05

    Ten Common Mistakes in Container Gardening

    Container garden picture of flowering cabbage
    Photo © Kerry Michaels

    Container gardening is easy... at least, it can be. People often make mistakes, though, such as thinking that they can dump ordinary soil from the outdoor garden into a container to grow plants. In reality, it's best to use a specialized potting mix in your containers, not garden soil you dig up from outdoors.

  • 03 of 05

    How to Keep Your Container Garden Plants from Drowning

    Urban Gardening
    Pauline Lewis/Getty Images

    People usually worry about keeping their containers well watered, but it can be just as big a problem to overwater them. Plants, too, can drown. Ensuring that your planters have good drainage may be the single most important thing you can do to make your container gardens healthy and long-lasting.

    Did you know that plastic pots are more prone to drowning plants than are clay pots?  That's because clay "breathes' while plastic is impervious to evaporation.

  • 04 of 05

    Choosing the Right Containers for Container Gardens

    Nature and Gardening
    BRF Klätterträdet/Flickr

    The options for planting containers are nearly limitless. All it depends on is your imagination (and yes, your budget).

    Don't overlook "found' objects around the house. Many ordinary objects, ranging from whiskey barrels to teacups, can be used as containers for plants. Just make sure there is proper drainage in the container and that the soil mixture is appropriate.

    Be aware the smaller the container, the less potting mix it will hold, and hence the more critical it will be to make sure the soil moisture level remains correct. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    A Photo Gallery of Great Container Gardens

    Sedona - Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village - Potted Plants
    Jared/Flickr

    A great way to get ideas for your container gardens is to look at pictures online and in magazines. You can get a lot of inspiration for plant combinations and color schemes by doing this.