What's a Container Garden?
Ever since the 1950s, it has been increasingly popular to grow
fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers on a small scale in large
pots - containers! A container garden is simply a garden planted
in containers, whether small or large, indoors or outdoors. You
might have a porch, patio, balcony, stair case, windowsills or
roof top that you would like to bring some life and color to -
all of these are ideal opportunities for a container garden.
What can be Grown in a Container Garden?
The short answer to this question is almost anything, in
moderation. It is possible to grow a vast range of plants in a
well-planned container garden, and while it might not be possible
to be completely self-sufficient (if that is your aim), you can
certainly grow a useful amount of food in a few containers.
As you are likely to be limited for space, it is even more
important than usual to start out with a clear plan for your
container garden and to know where you are going to put each
plant - some will need deeper, larger, wider or longer containers
Fruit and Vegetables
It is possible to grow a surprisingly wide variety of vegetables
in a container garden, often in quite modestly-sized containers.
Look for plants that grow upwards, don't require a huge root
space and have a reasonable yield per square foot of ground
Examples of plants that grow well in containers in a temperate
* Tomatoes (especially cherry)
* Peppers, Chillis
* Spring onions, shallots, etc.
* Other berries
Almost any herb will grow well in a limited space, although some
tend to spread quite fast - sage and chives, for example - so it
can be a good idea to isolate these in their own pot or
containers. Made in the USA decorative cast stone planters and
containers are available from http://www.garden-fountains.com.
Examples that the author has had reliable success with are:
Many people simply wish to add some color and decoration to their
limited outdoor space. Containers are perfect for many types of
flower - the best choices for you will depend on the location of
the container and the climate where you live, but some good
starting points might be:
How to Choose Containers
Containers come in all shapes and sizes, from small pots that can
sit on the corner of a desk to permanent installations that can
be built into your patio or yard. They can be made of a range of
Plastic planters and window boxes are readily and cheaply
available in a variety of sizes. While plastic pots don't quite
have the visual appeal of ceramic or wooden containers, plastic
is certainly practical and plastic containers are very suitable
for use in a container garden.
Clay / Terracotta / Glazed Ceramic Containers
One of the most attractive and traditional materials for plant
containers is clay. Clay pots come in all shapes and sizes, and
many people find they have a visual appeal that plastic lacks.
On the other hand, they are much more expensive, breakable and
heavy. Additionally, if they are not glazed, clay vessels are
porous, so moisture escapes through the surface of the pot (not
just through the holes in the base). This means that plants in
clay containers will need watering a little more often than those
The other principle material used to make plant containers is
wood. Wooden containers have the advantage that they can easily
be custom-made to fit into odd-shaped or large spaces - something
not true of clay or plastic. In addition, wood can be stained or
finished to match the wooden decking of a patio or porch, or
perhaps the railings of a balcony.
When buying or constructing wooden containers, it is important to
remember a few points:
- Don't stain or finish the wood with creosote - it's toxic to
- Try and use hardwoods like redwood or cedar - softer woods will
It's all in the Soil
When creating a container garden, it is important to create the
right kind of soil. In most cases, soil straight from the garden
won't do, especially if it is a clay soil, which doesn't drain
For smaller containers, the easiest way to get suitable soil is
to buy some bags of potting soil from your local garden center.
This should be light, loamy and ideally have some peat in it.
If you need a larger amount of soil, try making it yourself with
equal parts of sand, loamy garden soil and peat moss - this
should save some money over large quantities of potting soil.
Watering, Drainage and Nutrition
Most containers should have some drainage holes in their bases -
if not, then you either need to create some holes or else pot the
plant in another container that does have holes and then place
this inside the un-drained container.
If the containers are standing on a solid surface - concrete, for
example - it helps to raise them a few centimeters off the ground
in order to allow water to drain freely from the base. It's
important to prevent your plants becoming waterlogged.
Plants being grown in containers inevitably do not get quite as
much nutrition as those in the ground, and so it is important to
fertilize or feed your plants on a regular basis - dilute
mixtures of seaweed-based plant food can be applied every two or
three days, for example, or fertilizer can be added to the soil
every couple of weeks.
Container gardens are an extremely flexible and satisfying way of
making use of a small amount of space, and they can be
surprisingly productive. Getting the best from your environment
will require a little experimentation, but you will probably be
surprised at the speed and quality of the results you can
on this article or submit your tip to CreativeHomemaking.com.
for a printer friendly version of this page.
Follow me on Pinterest
Receive new article links via Twitter
Follow Creative Homemaking on Facebook
this article to a friend!
our article archives.
to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.