Container gardening offers many benefits. Containers are portable, which means you can place them on your balcony, deck or windowsill. They allow the home gardener to grow anything from vegetables to roses, even if living in an apartment without an inch of ground to till. Containers also allow the home gardener to be creative. Containers can be as elaborate as lush hanging baskets or as simple as a wooden trencher filled with impatiens.
The container is mostly a matter of personal preference. Whatever you choose, whether heavy clay, an inexpensive plastic pot or a wooden window box, make sure it has plenty of holes to drain any excess water. If necessary, make your own drainage holes using a drill. This is especially important if you get creative with your containers, such as using an old pair of rubber rain boots or a tin bucket.
Choose a potting medium that does not contain soil at all. Container gardens need to be extremely well-draining or the plants will quickly develop root rot. To keep the plants dry, plant them in a "soilless" mix, which is usually a combination of organic materials and minerals. Or go with the less expensive option and mix up your own. John W. Jett, an horticulturist with West Virginia University, suggests using equal parts peat moss, garden loam, and sterilized coarse sand. Fill your container with the mixture to an inch below the rim.
Container gardens, especially hanging containers, dry out more quickly than gardens planted in the ground. Make sure you water your container gardens frequently enough so the soil stays consistently moist. Water with a slow and steady stream until the water drains out the holes in the bottom of the container. Set containers on bricks or stones so that they can drain easier. Some containers, especially porous ones such as clay or those placed in full sunlight might need to be watered every day.
Feed your container gardens with a balanced (10-10-10), water-soluble fertilizer twice a month. The frequent watering of container gardens washes the nutrients out of the planting medium, and they must be replaced. Use the recommended dose for the size of your container garden, following the instructions on the bag, and don't overfertilize; this can burn the roots of the plants.