Container Gardening

You can have fun when gardening in containers. Also, you can enjoy the fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. To get the most from your garden, you need to have the right growing container, soil type, fertilizer, and enough water and sunlight.

Why Garden in Containers?

  • You do not have much space available for a garden.

  • You want to grow only a few plants.

  • The garden space you have may be poor because of too much shade, poor soil, or soil diseases.

  • You want to protect the plants from animals.

  • So you can move the plants into sheltered places to avoid early or late frost, summer's heat or wind.


Choose containers that are big enough to hold the plants and allow the roots to grow. Plastic or clay pots, old pails, bushel baskets, plastic buckets, wash tubs, wooden planters or hanging baskets will hold vegetables, herbs or flowers. The container must have holes in the bottom for the water to drain out. Water should drain away from the plants to prevent rot.

Containers should be at least six to eight inches deep. Put rocks, pebbles, or styrofoam in the bottom of the pot before filling.

Growing Plants

Soil - Some garden soil may be very heavy. To improve heavy soil, you need to mix equal amounts of garden soil with equal parts of peat moss and equal parts of sand, vermiculite or perlite. Also, you can buy already prepared, packaged, planting soil or houseplant soil. Leave at least one inch of space at the top of the pot.

Plants - Plants or seeds labeled "Compact," "Bush" or "Dwarf" will do best in your container garden.

Light - Think about how much sun the plant needs as you decide where to place the container garden. Plants, which grow in the shade, need at least five hours of sun each day. Plants, which grow in full sun, need eight hours of sun each day.

Fertilizer - Use one teaspoon of water soluble fertilizer per gallon of water every second or third watering.

Water - Keep soil moist. Water until it comes out the bottom. Water every day when it is 80 degrees outside. Sometimes large plants need watering two times a day when very hot outside, such as 95 degrees.

Prepared by Barbara Farner, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness; David Robson, Extension Educator, Horticulture; and James Schuster , Extension Educator, Horticulture.

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