These 110+ Container Gardening Tips are all you need to grow a successful container garden!
Tips for Starting Your Container Garden
1. Soil isn’t the Only Solution:
In your potting mix, adding one-third of organic matter like pine bark, leaf mold, compost or aged animal manure is an excellent way to enhance soil structure. It will also make a more robust potting medium.
Also Read: How to Compost in a Balcony
2. Soil Amendment: Adding rotted manure or compost to your soil mix aerates it, improving texture and balancing out pH abnormalities.
3. Check the Texture: If you’re making your own potting soil, mix various components of your soil in a large bucket to make enough batches for all your pots. If you’re using a store-bought mix, ensure it’s light and loose to enable adequate drainage.
4. Use Lightweight Potting Mix:
Heavy potting soils retain excess moisture, reducing water supply to the plants. Never use regular garden soil or soil on the ground to grow plants in containers.
5. Think before Recycling Soil: When recycling last year’s potting soil, add in two-thirds fresh soil. Never reuse soil that has withered, fallen plants trapped within. Soil that was used for the diseased plant must be used with caution, after sterilizing.
As potted plants can’t derive nutrients from the soil like plants growing on the ground, it’s important to fertilize them regularly.
6. Use Slow-Release Fertilizer if you’re a busy person: A slow-release fertilizer enhances the bioavailability of soil nutrients, providing uniform nourishment for a longer period of time and you don’t need to feed your plants often.
7. Fertilize bi-weekly: If you’re not using slow release fertilizer, feed your plants with diluted liquid fertilizer once in every two weeks. For small pots that need regular watering, water weekly.
8. Water in Time:
Never water after fertilizing. Water in the dawn, usually, whenever the topsoil goes dry. Plants in hanging baskets and moisture-loving plants are exceptions and should be watered regularly.
9. Apply All-Purpose Fertilizer: If you’re ever confused about the fertilizer ratio, apply balanced all-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.
10. Groom Regularly: During the growing season, prune your out of shape plants; snip off damaged and tangled stems and faded blossoms.
11. Use Special Formula for Flowering Plants: A nitrogen-rich fertilizer can boost leaf growth and elongated seedlings. For flowering plants to bloom prolifically, apply phosphorous-rich fertilizer.
12. Make Your Own Potting Soil:
Don’t collect soil from your garden; it will harden up into a compact mass that will ultimately thwart the growth. Make your potting soil using amendments like perlite, peat moss, vermiculite, and manure. Check out our article for DIY potting soil recipes.
13. Pack Down Soil: Tighten the soil using your hands while filling the pot to create more space for planting medium. Leave one-inch space below the rim so that the water doesn’t spill over the edges.
14. Avoid Burying the Crowns of the Plant: Avoid burying the crowns of the plants; it’s the part where stems and roots join each other. This simple tip will prevent your plants from rotting before time.
Tips for Planting your Container Garden
15. Arrange your Plants: Before planting, lay out your plants to ensure they complement each in terms of size, color, and growing requirements.
16. Check for Signs of Decay:
Inspect the roots and foliage of transplants and trim off any rotten ones. Break up circling roots by tilling them gently to ensure faster establishment in a new container.
17. Plant at the Same Depth: Planting everything to the same depth prevents rotting and roots from drying out fast.
18. Fill up the Container 1-inch Below the Rim: Fill up the container up to the 1 inch below the rim of the pot. It ensures maximum nutrition to the plants.
19. Provide Proper Spacing: Container plants don’t grow as tall and spread vigorously as the plants on the ground. You can space them more closely than their garden counterparts, but always follow the spacing requirements–which you can find on various plant websites, garden books, and seed packets.
Tips for Starting out Seeds in Your Container Garden
20. Avoid Overhead Watering:
Overhead watering and spilling a jet of water on seedlings can scatter the germinating seeds and kill the young plants. Avoid this! Instead, water with a mister or spray bottle and spray gently. The better way is to use “Water from below” method.
21. Let there be Light: Don’t keep seedlings in the dark spot. Place your pots in a spot that receives filtered sunlight. Some seedlings require more sunlight to grow, keep them in more sun.
22. Acclimatize before Transferring Outdoors: Expose nascent seedlings to the outside weather gradually, starting from twenty minutes a day to six hours over the course of 10 days.
23. Create a Conditioned Environment: Optimum soil temperature for seed germination is between 60 to 85 F (15 to 30 C). Here‘re five seed germination tips to help you.
24. Don’t Plant too Deep:
The general rule is to plants seeds to a depth that is twice their width. If that’s difficult for you to understand, always check out proper seed sowing depth on the packet or internet before planting.
Tips for Choosing the Right Container
25. Container material: You can opt for any container material. It depends on your climate and need. Terracotta pots always do well, in winters, you can cover them with bubble wrap for protection from cold. Plastic containers are perfect for those who want to move the pots often. Ceramic and metal pots look well; you can place them on the porch. Wooden planters are sensitive to change in weather but look good, use them for indoor or balcony gardening.
Also Read: Best Recycled Container Ideas
26. Container Size: Large containers ensure better survival of big plants. Also, you’ll have the advantage of watering less often. Many plants prefer being in a slightly root bound state. For them, always select a pot that is one or two sizes bigger than their root ball. Do the same thing, when you’re growing perennial plants and keep repotting after every one or two years.
27. Self-Watering Containers: Self-watering containers provide moisture steadily and are great for those who forget watering or growing moisture loving plants. Check out these DIY self-watering planter ideas here.
Also Read: DIY Watering Can For Container Gardeners
Ensure the container has drainage holes on the underside. If not, drill some.
29. Repurpose Household Items as Pots: Just make sure they don’t come with a lead coating as it could contaminate soil and confer health issues. Similarly, rubber and tires are bad choices for growing edibles.
Also Read: DIY Planters Out of Household Items
30. Pots for Beginners: Polystyrene foam and fiber pots are good for beginners. They are lightweight and fairly aesthetic.
31. Visual Appeal: Wooden containers blend well in a natural setting like the deck or patio, while concrete ones suit terrace gardens. Synthetic pots (resins, fiberglass, plastic) and clay pots can be used in shade gardens with stones.
32. Choose a Style:
Determine how your container will be used-whether it will be brimming with shrubs, annuals, or water gardens. You can choose a traditional or a contemporary style to create different looks, from cottage garden to desert rock oasis.
33. Avoid Saucers & Shallow Trays: Because standing water attracts mosquitoes and spread diseases, regularly remove the collected water.
34. Create Color Contrast: Paint your pot in metallic shades to accentuate the foliage of plants, and pastel shades to play up bold colors of flowers.
35. Sterilize Pots Yearly: A solution 10% bleach in water is effective in eliminating fungal pathogens and diseases.
36. Fit Wire Baskets with Liners:
Then when you fill up with soil, gently guide plants through the holes of the liner. That way you’ll get a lush-looking hanging basket. Also, check out these indoor hanging plants ideas.
37. Incorporate containers in raised beds: This is a smart strategy to add height and dimension.
38. Winterproof Terracotta Pots: Paint the insides with roofing tar to prevent them from cracking under the effect of cold drafts.
Tips for Selecting Plants for Your Container Garden
39. Check the Light Requirements: Grow plants according to their sunlight requirements. If you get six hours of direct sunlight daily, this is full sun. You can grow any plant, even the shade plants after covering them. Three to five hours is considered as the part sun, which is also suitable for many plants. Less than three hours of direct sun is considered shade, and you should grow shade tolerant edibles and ornamentals at that place.
40. Create Balance:
Choose pots according to the size of your plants and vice-versa. Small plants won’t do justice to a large pot.
41. Check the Height Ratio: Ideally, the ratio of the plant height to pot height is 2:1. When it comes to width, the ratio is 1:1½. It’s not fixed and also depends on the plant species.
42. Keep it Simple: Showy plants are best showcased in simple containers; choose ornate ones for monochromatic plants.
Also Read: Best Container Garden Design Tips
43. Choose Container Varieties: If you’re growing bushy plants or vegetables, ensure to pick varieties that are specially bred for their compact size and ability to adapt to container culture. Check out the best tomato varieties for containers.
44. Whimsical Gardeners’ Trick:
For short-term ventures, create an annual garden. It will appear for some time and look great. If you’re a busy person, grow low maintenance perennial plants.
45. Avoid Spreading Plants: They’ll outgrow the container and require frequent transplanting. Go for compact plants.
46. Start with Mature Plants: Due to space constraints, perennials won’t grow to their full size in a container. If you want your pot to look brimful the first year itself, then start with mature plants and *who has the time to wait for years.
47. Shade Plantings: Flowers are of secondary interest in shade gardens. Use plants with unique foliage patterns for a lovely architectural appeal.
48. Choose Hardy Plants for Successful Overwintering:
If you live in a region where winters are harsh, the cold tolerant plant will grow well in containers.
Bonus Tip: To maintain year-round interest, grow plants that appear in different seasons. Spring-Summer-Fall and Winter.
49. Succulents are the Solution: These no-fuss plants crave neglect and low-key watering. They’re an excellent option for lazy, forgetful, busy gardeners and people who travel a lot.
50. Select an Appropriate Location: For windy areas like the balcony, choose robust plants like geraniums and petunias, and begonias and impatiens for shady areas.
51. One out of Five plants should Support Wildlife:
Plants that provide habitat for wildlife are great for the ecosystem and diversity. Often, native and non-hybrid flowering plants are best for this purpose.
Tips to Water your Container Garden
52. Soak Baskets in a Bucket of Water:
It’s apparently the most effective way to water mosses, ferns, and plants growing in hanging baskets.
53. Flush Out the Pot with 10% of the Water: This will help flush out any salts that build up in the containers.
54. Rejuvenate Dry Potting Soil: Soak the entire pot in water for half-an-hour to enable proper rehydration, if in case the soil is extremely dry.
55. Stick the hose to the Soil Level: This will ensure a steady flow of water as opposed to aimless sprinkling.
56. Install Drip Irrigation:
It enables uniform watering that the plants can absorb gradually and have enough for when it gets too hot.
57. Use Glazed Pots: Glazed pots look beautiful and prevent evaporation, unlike clay pots.
58. Be Flexible with Watering: Succulents, many perennials, and drought-resistant plants need less water than annuals, herbs, and veggies. Mature plants can last longer without water than fresh transplants.
59. Check for Signs of Water Deprivation: Shriveled, droopy leaves and petals, limp stems and discolored, papery and crisp leaves are signs your plant is screaming for some water.
60. Use Moisture Tools:
Here‘s a detailed guide by following which you’ll know exactly how to use moisture tools. It’ll help to identify the moisture content of the soil so that you can water accordingly. Generally, you should poke your index finger in the pot to check the moisture level–If the top 1 to 2 inches seems dry, water again.
61. Every Soil is Different: Sandy soils are fast-draining and need watering when they go dry to a depth of 2-4 inches.