How to Do Container Gardening


One of the most versatile gardening methods is container gardening. Small containers are portable, making it possible for you to move your garden indoors or outdoors, or even take it with you if you relocate. Container gardening helps you avoid soil problems, and fertilizer stays in the container near your plant's roots. For those who have limited physical abilities to dig, stoop or kneel, a container garden is less demanding for regular plant care and maintenance.

Container Garden Basics

Step 1

Use any clean containers for your plants. Match the size of the container with the plant you will grow in it. Containers for root crops need to be deep, and tomatoes and peppers need sturdy containers that will not topple over when the plants are top-heavy with fruits.

Step 2

Fill your containers with potting mix. Transplant the fruits or vegetables of your choice into the containers, or plant seeds according to the package directions. Water after planting, keep the containers in a warm place, and give them plenty of sunlight.

Step 3

Water regularly, usually daily is necessary, and never allow the soil in your containers to dry out. A container will dry out very quickly, especially if it is in full sun on a hot deck or patio. Clay pots lose moisture through the porous sides of the pot as well as from normal evaporation, so pay particular attention to them. At least once a week use an organic liquid fertilizer when you water. Because containers require frequent watering, nutrients can be washed through the potting soil and out of the container rather than remaining dissolved in the soil as they do in a traditional garden.

Step 4

Double crop your containers by using them for more than one variety of plants. You can do this by planting a second crop as soon as the first is done. This works well with early short-season vegetables like radishes or turnips that can be followed by a main season crop. Another way to double crop is to plant more than one variety in the container at the same time. Lettuce or spinach, which are low-growing short-season crops, can be planted with tomatoes, which grow tall and upright and will not bear until after the lettuce has been harvested.

Step 5

Companion plant herbs, onions or garlic with vegetables in large containers. These offer natural protection against some garden pests.

Step 6

Try some dwarf fruit trees in your container garden. They make ideal candidates for containers. You can keep small trees on plant dollies and roll them to a protected place if necessary to avoid late spring frosts that may damage tender blossoms.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Potting soil/mix
  • Plants or seeds
  • Water
  • Sunny location or plant lights
  • Liquid fertilizer


  • Container Garden Information
  • Tips for Container Gardens
  • Container Garden Ideas

Who Can Help

  • Container Gardening Tips
Keywords: how to container garden, container gardening, container garden basics

About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.