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    Container Gardening 101: Everything You Need to Get Started

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    Container Gardening 101: Everything You Need to Get Started

    Container gardening is a great way to bring a bit of nature into your home. Whether you have an apartment balcony or a small backyard, container gardens are easy to set up and maintain. 

    Plus, having your own homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs can save you money and help you be more prepared and self-sufficient in the long run.

    But before you start planting your first garden, it’s important to learn the basics. Read on for our beginner’s guide to container gardening. 

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    What Are the Benefits of a Container Garden?

    Let’s start with the obvious one—a container garden can be very aesthetically pleasing. 

    Picking out potting containers and plants can be both fun and rewarding, as you get to customize your own little oasis in whatever style you want. 

    Whether it’s something classic and timeless or something modern and unique, there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from. You can even get creative with your plants by arranging them in different patterns that pop against the colors of your potting containers.   

    Container gardens are relatively easy to set up and maintain compared to traditional gardens, which require tilling, weeding, and other labor-intensive activities. All you need is some good soil, nutrients, light, and water.

    Plus, because container gardens are smaller in size than traditional gardens, they won't require as much time for upkeep either. This makes it easier for busy people who don't have time for all the work that goes into maintaining a regular garden but still want to reap the rewards of growing their own food or flowers.  

    Another benefit of container gardening is that it takes up less space than traditional gardening does—which means if you live in an urban area with limited outdoor space (think: tiny balconies), this might be just the thing for you.

    And unlike traditional gardens, which will take up an entire section of your yard or patio area, you can move your containers as needed so they don’t take up too much real estate when not in use. This also allows you to experiment with different kinds of plants throughout the year without having to commit permanently to one spot.  

    Container gardening is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air without having to worry about tilling the soil or dealing with pesky pests, weeds, and other issues. Containers offer all the benefits of gardening – without all the hassle!

    What Kinds of Containers to Use for Your Container Garden

    If you’re a budding green thumb, you may be considering taking your gardening game to the next level with container gardening. But what kind of containers should you use for your plants? 

    Here’s a quick and easy guide to help you understand the different types of containers available and determine which ones are best for your needs. 


    When it comes to picking out containers for your container garden, size matters. Make sure the container is big enough for the roots of your plants to spread out and have plenty of room to grow. 

    If the container is too small, you may end up with stunted growth or even plant death due to overcrowding. So be sure that whatever container you choose has plenty of room for each individual plant. 


    The material used in your container can also impact how successful your garden is. Plastic containers hold moisture longer than clay or ceramic pots, making them great if you tend to forget about watering duties every now and then. 

    Clay pots are great if you want a more traditional look, and they also provide better drainage than plastic containers do. Ceramic containers are usually more decorative, but they can get quite heavy when filled with soil, so keep that in mind when choosing which type of pot to go with. 


    It’s important that whatever type of container you choose allows water to drain easily from the bottom. If water pools at the bottom, it can cause root rot and other problems with your plants. 

    Many pots come with drainage holes pre-drilled at the base, but if yours doesn’t, make sure to drill some yourself before filling it with soil. 

    Can You Use Repurposed Containers?

    Absolutely! In fact, repurposed containers can often add an interesting touch to any garden space.

    Before using a repurposed item as a planter, make sure it is clean and free from any holes or cracks where water could escape (or pests could enter). 

    Also, try adding some rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the pot before adding soil – this will help promote better drainage within the pot itself.

    What Other Supplies Do You Need to Start a Container Garden?

    Having the right tools makes gardening much easier and more efficient. 

    A trowel is essential for digging holes in the soil and planting seeds or starts. You'll also need something to cut open bags of soil and something to measure out fertilizer or other additives once they're mixed into the soil. 

    Other helpful tools include gloves (for keeping dirt off your hands), a watering can (or hose with adjustable nozzle), pruning shears for trimming back overgrown plants, and a small hand rake for smoothing out the surface of your soil after planting seeds or starts.  

    Ideal Soil Type for a Container Garden

    The soil type used for container gardens should be light and easy for roots to penetrate. An ideal mix will contain compost or well-rotted manure, peat moss, perlite or vermiculite, and a slow-release fertilizer. 

    Containers should also be filled with fresh potting soil each season in order to provide necessary nutrients and stimulate growth. The best soil mixture will hold moisture without becoming waterlogged while still allowing excess water to drain freely. 

    For container gardens, it is important to remember that the larger the pot size, the lighter the blend of soil should be in order to promote good drainage and reduce root rot.

    Which Plants Perform Best in Containers?

    Herbs are the most popular choice for container gardens because they’re easy to grow, require minimal maintenance, and provide plenty of culinary inspiration. 

    Parsley, oregano, rosemary, thyme—they all perform well in planters. Plus, herbs don’t need much sun or water, so even if you forget to check up on them every once in a while (it happens), they won't suffer too much damage. 

    One of the most surprising contenders for container plants is fruit-bearing trees like lemons and kumquats. As long as you keep an eye out for pests and give your tree enough water and nutrients it needs, it can easily produce delicious fruit all year long.

    Not only that, fruiting trees tend to be low-maintenance. All you need to do is prune them occasionally so they don't become too big for their pot. 

    Vegetables are also obvious choices for container gardens. It's important to note that some vegetables are better-suited to this purpose than others; things like greens and vining crops are great for containers, as are tomatoes, while larger plants like corn are best left to the main garden plot.

    And don't forget about ornamental plants. Succulents may not be everyone's cup of tea when it comes to indoor plants, but they are low-maintenance and require only occasional watering.

    Plus, if you choose ones with interesting shapes or colors like echeveria or haworthia succulents, these can add an extra touch of personality to your space as well.

    Seedlings in Various Trays

    Planting Into Your Container Garden – Starting from Seeds vs. Plants

    If you’ve ever wanted to start a container garden, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to start from seeds or from plants. Both have their pros and cons, and it can be hard to decide which route to go. 

    The primary benefit of starting your container garden with seeds is the cost savings; buying a packet of seeds is much cheaper than purchasing individual plants. But, don’t forget that there are other expenses associated with starting from seeds (e.g., soil, fertilizer). 

    Plus, it takes considerable time for your plants to grow from seedlings into full-grown plants. If you have an impatient streak, like I do, this can be difficult.

    And if you’re new to gardening and don't really know what you're doing yet, starting from seed can be overwhelming since there's so much that goes into successfully germinating and growing them. 

    The main benefit of starting with pre-established plants is that they will already be producing flowers and fruit when you get them—no waiting required. This means that if you want instant gratification in your garden (and who doesn't?), this might be the way to go. 

    However, one drawback is that individual plants can get expensive; depending on the type of plant and where you get it from, prices can range anywhere from $5-$50 per plant. Also, keep in mind that some nurseries may not always offer the best quality plants—so make sure you do your research before making any purchases. 

    Tips for a Healthy Container Garden

    Ready to get your green thumb on? Container gardening is the perfect way to bring the beauty of nature into your home – indoors or out. But before you start picking out plants, it's important to understand the basics of container gardening. 

    Here are some tips from the pros that will help guarantee success in any container garden. 

    Don't Skip Drainage

    Proper drainage is essential for healthy plants. If your plant doesn't have proper drainage, its roots can become waterlogged and die. That's why it's important to make sure that any containers you use have a few holes in the bottom for water to escape through. If they don't, you should drill or poke a few holes yourself.

    Pay Attention to Lighting

    Every plant needs different amounts of sunlight – and it's important to know how much light each one needs so you can place them in an area where they'll thrive. Some plants require full sun, while others are more comfortable with just a few hours of sunlight a day. Be sure to read up on each type of plant before deciding how and where you want your container garden set up. 

    Be Willing to Try Both Outdoor and Indoor Container Gardens

    Depending on where you live, outdoor container gardens may not be an option year-round – but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the beauty of nature in your own home. There are plenty of beautiful indoor plants that do well in containers, so don't be afraid to mix things up by creating an indoor oasis as well as an outdoor one. 

    Feed Your Hungry Plants

    Just like humans need food, so do plants! Different types of plants require different types of fertilizer, so be sure to read up on what each one needs before feeding them anything. 

    Over-fertilizing can damage and even kill plants, so it's best to stick with organic fertilizers if possible – and only give them as much as they need.

    Try Companion Planting

    Have you ever heard of companion planting? This is when two or more species are planted together because their growth helps each other survive better than if they were planted alone. 

    For example, certain herbs help repel pests from other plants nearby – meaning less work for you. Be sure to do some research before trying this technique in your own garden. 

    Water Liberally – But Not Too Liberally

    Once everything is planted and situated in its container, it's important to pay attention to watering needs.

    Different types of plants require different amounts of water—some may need more frequent watering while others only need occasional misting. Make sure to research each individual plant beforehand so that you know how best to care for them. 

    Check regularly on how your plants are doing. If any look wilted or discolored (or worse!), take action immediately so that they don't die back. 

    Tomatoes Growing in Pots

    Pay Attention to Plant Tags

    Plant tags provide valuable information about exactly what kind of care each type of plant needs – from soil pH levels to watering frequency – so be sure not to miss these little details. They could mean the difference between having healthy thriving plants or wilting failures. 

    If Growing Outside, Acclimate Your Plants 

    If you decide to grow outside rather than indoors (or even if you're doing both), be sure that your outdoor plants have time to adjust gradually and get used to their new environment first before being left entirely outdoors overnight. 

    This will help ensure that they won't succumb to too-cold or too-hot temperatures because they haven't been given time to adjust.

    Are There Any Disadvantages of Container Gardening?

    Despite its many advantages, there are some drawbacks to container gardening. 

    For starters, because containers are elevated off the ground and exposed to sun and wind more regularly than standard gardens, they tend to dry out faster than regular soil does—so you may need to water your plants more often. 

    Plus, since the roots of potted plants don’t have access to much soil volume compared with a regular garden bed (which can extend several feet below ground), their growth potential can be limited over time by nutrient deficiency or lack of oxygen in soil compaction.  

    Finally, depending on what kind of potting mix you use (and how often you replace it), potted plants can suffer from nutrient deficiencies quicker than those planted in regular garden beds; so make sure you use premium quality organic potting mix when planting your containers.

    Also, be sure to test the soil regularly to make sure the potting mix hasn't become depleted. 

    Final Thoughts

    With this guide under your belt and some practice along the way—you'll soon be harvesting delicious fruits & veggies from your very own backyard (or balcony!) oasis.

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