Grow a Beautiful Garden – in Containers!

Photo courtesy of scrappy annie.

Photo courtesy of scrappy annie

Believe it or not, it’s easy to plant and maintain beautiful container gardens. You might not think so.

Maybe you don’t have enough time, energy, or space for a full garden. Or you have limited physical abilities, and/or crawling around in the dirt (and chiggers!) is not your idea of a good time. You’d like to have some herbs, vegetables, or flowers that require a minimum of hard work.

One of the great things about container gardening is that it doesn’t demand a huge commitment. It also allows for creating groupings of containers that include a variety of heights and shapes.

Containers can be portable, so you can make adjustments to your arrangement as needed or desired. They can also be placed in an existing garden to create a focal point or fill an empty spot.


Photo courtesy of BKB Leather

There are lots of attractive and interesting containers available in garden centers and other stores. You can also be creative and use something other than a purchased container or pot.

I’ve seen people use all kinds of vessels such as old boots or shoes, washtubs, and old mailboxes. I have a birdbath that doesn’t hold water, so I figured “at least it has good drainage!” and I filled it with little cascading petunias.

You can grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables – or all 3 in the same container. Just make sure you choose plants that have the same needs for water and light. The library has a great selection of books to help pick out your plants and put together your container garden. Find more in our Lawn & Garden Neighborhood, or take a look at this Container Gardening Booklist.

Photo courtesy of Jill Zinn.

Photo courtesy of Jill Zinn

Here are a few important things to keep in mind if you want to start a container garden:

  • Make sure your container or pot is large enough. It’s best to use a pot that has at least a 12 inch diameter. Smaller pots can get too hot, and they tend to dry out very quickly.
  • Plants grown in pots/containers will require more frequent watering. The smaller the container, the more frequently it will need to be watered. You can also apply a layer of mulch to help the plants retain their moisture.
  • Most containers look best if the plants are somewhat crowded. This is okay, but since the plants won’t be able to get enough nutrients from the soil in the container they will need a booster shot of fertilizer occasionally. Even better – mix a timed-release fertilizer into the soil mix when you plant the container.
  • Be sure to choose plants that are appropriate for the environment where you intend to place them. However, another benefit of container gardening is that if your plants don’t do well in one place, you can move them to another to see if they like it better.

Container gardening is a perfect way to get started with gardening. And you never know – it just might turn out to be your first step toward becoming an avid gardener.

You may find it difficult to contain yourself!

Photo courtesy of Tanya Walsh.

Photo courtesy of Tanya Walsh.

Jill Mickel

Jill Mickel is a Public Services Specialist and a member of the Arts and Crafts team. Her passions are art and community, and she believes that art is for everyone! When she is not at the library or working in her studio, she can be found gardening, cooking, reading, or bird-watching.