Container Gardening 101

Posted by Arcadia Garden Products on

Got a green thumb...but not enough space for the garden of your dreams? Or maybe you're curious about gardening but aren't ready to commit to a full-scale agricultural operation. 

Have you thought about container gardening?

Container gardening isn't just a great way to bring the outdoors in, it can improve your overall gardening experience, so you'll stick to it long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Benefits of Container Gardening

"Gardening requires lots of water...most of it in the form of perspiration." - Lou Erickson

As any gardener can tell you, growing anything is hard work. But container gardening makes growing your own fruits, herbs, vegetables, or flowers a little bit easier.

For starters, containers allow your garden to be much smaller. You can perch your pots on a table, on a shelf on your porch, or even on your kitchen windowsill. This prevents the need to set aside an entire section of your backyard.

Planting in containers also makes gardening a lot more comfortable, as there's no need to kneel on the ground. You can place your containers anywhere you'd like to have better access for weeding and pruning them.

Perhaps the best reason to try container gardening is that you have a lot more control over your harvest. By using the right combination of soil, drainage, and placement of your containers, you can create the optimal condition for your plants. Bring them inside during a freeze, aerate and fertilize poor quality soil, add drainage holes to prevent root rot.

Container gardening can even add visual interest to existing landscaping. 

When you add it all up, there's no reason not to start a container garden!


Selecting Your Containers

Just about any plant and any container can be used in your garden, provided that they are the right size. Consider both the height and roots of the plant when selecting your containers.

Container material is another thing to consider. 

Traditional terra cotta pots are popular, but they are also heavy and prone to breakage. Plus, larger sizes can get expensive.

Glazed ceramic is usually more expensive than terra cotta, while still being heavy and breakable.

Plastic is very lightweight and inexpensive, but not always very durable. Being out in the sun (on a porch or patio, for instance) can cause them to fade and crack.

Concrete is extremely durable, but also very heavy. If you're using concrete planters, think carefully about their placement, as they will be very difficult to move later on.

Metal containers add a cute, rustic touch to any garden, but they can rust when exposed to water. They can also heat up under the sun, which isn't always healthy for a plant's root system.

Arcadia's PSW pots combine the best features of all of these materials into a single, durable container. Made up of a mixture of plastic, stone powder, and wood dust, they are inexpensive, durable, fade-resistant, and relatively lightweight ...without compromising on style.


Selecting Your Plants

The best thing about container gardening is that just about any plant can thrive in the right container. That being said, you'll want to consider your available space and skill level if you're just starting out with container gardening.

Here are some of the easiest plants to grow in containers:

  • Basil

  • Chives

  • Lettuce (looseleaf and romaine varieties are best, since they require the least amount of room)

  • Mint

  • Peppers (spicy or bell)

  • Radishes

  • Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas

  • Strawberries

  • Thyme

  • Tomatoes

  • Zucchini and Squash

basil plant


How to Plant a Container Garden

Now that you've selected your containers and plants, it's time to plant your garden!

1. Drainage Holes

Start off by making sure your container has drainage holes to allow excess water to flow out. Too much water in your soil can lead to root rot, which will kill your plants.

If you're using our PSW pots, you can make your own drainage holes with a power drill. Then, cover the holes with a coconut liner, which will allow for water and air circulation while keeping dirt where it belongs. 

2. Soil

The type of soil you use in your container garden is very important. Garden soil is great for outside uses, but it's too dense for a container. Stick to houseplant soil instead.

The soil should be well-aerated and fluffy, so that air, water, and other nutrients can easily reach the roots. Pre-moisten and aerate the soil as you add it to your planter.

Fill your container about halfway with a good-quality soil. If your container is really deep, you can add a layer of gravel or packing peanuts on the bottom to take up some of the space.

3. Plant

Once you have filled your planter halfway with soil, set the plant(s) on top. Then, scoop more soil around the rootball until it reaches the base of the plant. 

plant in hand

Don't pack down the dirt, as this will undo all of the work you spent aerating the soil. Water the plant well and add a layer of mulch (if desired) to retain the moisture in the soil.

If planting from seed, don't forget to include a label so you know what you planted.


    Caring For Your Container Garden

    Caring for your container garden will look different for each gardener, depending on the plant as well as the zone it's in. However, most plants have the same basic needs.


    Pay attention to your plant's light requirements and select the location of your container garden accordingly.

    If you're looking for some greenery to fill in a shady spot on your patio, a cactus wouldn't be the right choice. Follow the best guidelines for your garden and place them in an area where they'll receive the proper amount of sunlight.


    water coming from spout of watering can

    All plants (even cacti) need water from time to time. 

    And container gardens' water needs are a little higher, as they don't hold onto water as well as plants in the ground.

    If you think you'll forget to water them, try a self-watering globe or a drip irrigation system.


    Feeding your plants with fertilizer is especially important with container gardens, as this is the only way to replace the nutrients being consumed by the plant.

    Fertilizers come in different forms and formulations, so pick the type that's best for your plant's needs.


    Even container gardens need regular tending to look their best.

    Some flowering plants will need to have spent blossoms removed (also known as "deadheading") to encourage new blooms to come in. Other plants may need to be pruned to encourage more foliage growth and prevent them from getting "leggy."

    You may even need to get rid of unwanted pests (like weeds and insects) from time to time.


    Is Container Gardening For You?

    Once you start container gardening, it can be difficult to stop!

    After all, having a nearly constant source of fresh produce, flavorful herbs, and fragrant flowers is a wonderful thing, along with the pride that comes from knowing you coaxed them all from the ground yourself.

    At Arcadia Garden Products, we believe that everyone should have access to a garden of their own, even if that means growing food and foliage in containers on your patio.

    Whether you're looking for gardening supplies or indoor decor items, Arcadia is your source for gardening products!

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