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Tips for Gardening in Pots

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Container gardens are an easy foray into the gardening world, especially if you've just gotten through a hectic move. They're simple to start, low-maintenance and can be created in an afternoon with just some dirt and a little creativity. If you're looking to stretch your green thumb and are tight on space, or want something with a bit less commitment, look no further than a container garden. Keep reading for tips on how to get started gardening in pots.

Get started

Before you head off to the home improvement store for supplies, think about what your goal is for your container garden. While you may want to start off with just a few pretty flowers in a planter for that side table, you should realize that there are tons of options for you to choose from when planning your container garden.

One of the first things you should think about when planning your container garden is what kind of garden you'd like.

  • Do you want an herb garden?
  • Do you want a "salad in a box" garden?
  • Do you want an edible garden?
  • Do you want flowers?
  • Do you want succulents?
  • Are you looking for something low-maintenance?

The questions can go on and on and so can your options. Once you've sat down for a few minutes and really thought about what you're looking for, you'll be able to start planning your container garden. Keep in mind that some plants fare better indoors rather than outdoors and vice versa, and also in different climates. Do a quick search online or ask someone at the local nursery what zone you live in so you can pick plants accordingly for the best results.


When deciding on your garden container or pot, it's important to remember that it should have adequate drainage. When you water your plants, the water can become trapped in the bottom, causing the plant's roots to rot and become waterlogged. This results in your plant wilting and dying. Check the bottom of your container for drainage holes. The larger the pot, the more holes there should be (or one large hole at least one-inch in diameter).

If there aren't any holes, use a drill to create multiple holes on the bottom of the pot or container. Distribute them evenly on the surface but don't add too many--the bottom could become weak and break.

Let there be light

It's important that your plant sees the light of day. At the very least, invest in a grow light or plant light kit for the ever important process of photosynthesis to occur. While you purchase plants that will work well in any kind of light, you should have an idea of what kind of light is actually available to your container before purchasing plants.

Plant food

Plain potting soil doesn't always provide enough nutrients for your plants to thrive. Adding a bit of fertilizer to the potting soil or purchasing potting soil with fertilizer already mixed in will work wonders for your plants.

Plant neighbors

When choosing which potted plants you like, be sure that if your'e going to be planting multiple varieties in one container that they work well together. For instance, if you choose low-light plants make sure that they are all going to be planted into the same container and not mixed with full-sun varieties. One of the plants will suffer the consequences of too much/not enough light.

Save the plant tag

The little plant tags that stick out of the dirt when you buy the plants are crucial for beginners and even more advanced gardeners. Those little tags provide a wealth of knowledge about how much light, and how much water the plant will need as well as other pertinent information. Keep them stuck in the dirt next to the plant, or in a spot where you can easily find them (in a plastic bag in a kitchen drawer, for example).

Size matters

The bigger the plant, the larger your pot or container should be. Also, the longer the plant takes to mature, the bigger the pot will need to be.

What you'll need:

  • Well-draining pot/container
  • Potting soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Seedlings/Seeds
  • Small garden shovel (optional)
  • Newspaper to work on

What you'll do:

  1. Lay out the newspaper so you don't have as much to clean up after. Grab your container, potting soil and fertilizer and have them in front of you. If your pot doesn't have enough drainage, grab a power drill and add some holes to the bottom.
  2. Put the empty pot in front of you and begin filling it with the potting soil and mix in some fertilizer. Fill the pot until the soil reaches about an inch or two below the rim of the pot.
  3. Following the planting instructions on your plant tags, begin digging small holes with your hands or with your shovel.
  4. Transfer the seedlings into each hole and press it down so it is level with the top level of soil. Repeat with other seedlings.
  5. For seeds, follow the directions on the seed packet for depth and distance.
  6. Water the soil enough so the entire thing is damp.
  7. Follow directions on plant tag and seed packets for watering instructions and light needs.
  8. Wait for plants to grow and enjoy!

Ana M. Ferrer  Posted by Ana M. Ferrer on July 29, 2014

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