Container Garden Tips

When you have very little space for gardening, or, when you live in an apartment, it is difficult to garden-but you can bite the gardening bug by using containers to garden. The containers can be moved around so that the plants can benefit from the proper amount of sunlight. Moving the containers also changes the look of the garden-something that cannot be easily done if you plant a garden in the landscape.


You can choose from several types of containers-from clay pots and plastic pots to window boxes and hanging baskets. Clay pots are a favorite, because they tend to blend in with the plants. Plastic pots are not porous like clay pots, so they retain more water, but they tend to blow over in heavy winds. Window boxes are versatile in that they can be placed almost anywhere. They can be hung or bolted to fences, walls or deck railings. They are also heavy, so are less likely to blow over in strong winds. When choosing a container, be sure that the container has plenty of large drainage holes. When filling the containers, line the bottom with ½-inch gravel or 1-inch gravel, depending on the size of the pot and the size of the drainage holes.

Soil and Fertilizer

Choose a soil that is a lightweight mix. Clay is not good to use in container gardens because its bad qualities become exaggerated, according to West Virginia University Extension Science. Clay holds too much moisture, robbing air from the roots. Instead of purchasing a soil mix from a garden store, make your own. Mix one part loam from the garden, one part peat moss and one part builder's sand. Add a slow release fertilizer (14-14-14) based on the instructions on the fertilizer and the container size. Test the soil for its pH level. For optimum container gardening, West Virginia University Extension Science states that the pH needs to be about 6.5.


Container plants need to be watered more often than plants in the garden. Depending on the type and size of container you use, you might have to water as often as every day. Watering needs also depend on whether the container is in full sun or partial shade, what type of plants are in the containers, and what time of year it is. Most plants need less watering during the winter months, as they are dormant. When watering, water until water drips from the drainage holes. If water does not drip from the drainage holes, the entire root ball is not getting the moisture it needs, thus stunting root growth and plant performance.

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About this Author

Cayden Conor is a family law paralegal who writes on various subjects including dogs, cockatoos and cooking. She has over 15 years of experience as a paralegal, and has been writing professionally for three years. Conor has a paralegal degree and majored in criminology, computer science (programming emphasis) and education.