The Ultimate Guide To Easy Container Gardening

Container gardening is the best way to get gorgeous yields of flowers and herbs, and it’s so much easier than planting, weeding, and harvesting traditional gardens! This post discusses many interesting and informative aspects of container gardening.

pink flowers in a blue and white ceramic container garden.

Container gardening is the perfect way to add a splash of BIG color to your porch, patio, or outdoor space. Here’s what you need to know about container gardening—and it’s all in one place!

tall purple salvia in container garden

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can container garden! In this post, I have packed all kinds of know-how, tips, and little professional tricks to help you create and keep a container garden from early summer right through the fall!

First, let’s start with a good working definition…

white and orange flowers in a porcelain container

Container gardening is the method of planting flowers and edibles in some sort of container instead of in the ground. These containers can be portable or stay in one place and are a mini-environment for all the plantings in them.

This is an easy definition and a great overview! This type of gardening is easy to do and maintain, and it will bless you with beauty season after season!

Let’s look at everything you need to know about container gardening…

hydrangeas in a rectangle container garden

The Container

container gardens on the back porch

It’s good to start with the container! Your little garden needs a contained environment to grow!


Choosing the right container for your container garden is important for the success and health of your plants. Not only does the right container provide adequate space for root growth, but it also makes sure there is proper drainage and aeration, which are essential for preventing root rot and other issues.

The material of the container can affect temperature regulation and moisture retention, influencing how often you’ll need to water. Additionally, the size and shape of the container should be compatible with the type of plants you’re growing, as overcrowded roots can stunt growth and reduce yields. By selecting the appropriate container, you’re setting the stage for a thriving garden, making your container gardens more rewarding and enjoyable.

There are so many different types of containers for your garden. The traditional terracotta pot comes to mind! But there are so many things you can plant flora in. Here are just a few examples…

  • pots
  • tubs
  • baskets
  • stationary structural containers
  • hanging pots
  • barrels
  • metal containers
  • concrete containers
  • galvanized tubs
  • birdbath
  • wooden box
  • raised beds
  • more!

Plantings should be put in a pot so they have room to grow. Most container plants, with the exception of cacti and succulents, have longer root systems that like to stretch out without being pot-bound! This tip is more of a do-what-I-say because it is the best advice and not-what-I-do. My gardens tend to be a bit cozy. But once they get too overgrown, I move them to a few more containers.

See how to make this PRETTY CONTAINER for an herb garden!

Container Construction

blue and white container garden

The pot, planter, or whatever you choose to plant a small garden in should be sturdy and able to withstand the sun, wind, and other elements of nature.

The more a container is unprotected from the elements, the more imperious it should be.

whitewashed pots

Here are a few popular materials for a planter…

  • heavy-duty plastic
  • terracotta
  • fiberglass
  • fiberglass blends
  • concrete
  • hypertufa (light concrete)
  • dark plastic bags
  • metal
  • wood
  • bucket
  • polyurethane foam
  • ceramic
  • more

Each type of pot has its good qualities and its less-than-good qualities. It’s important to match the temperature zone in your area with the right container, too!

Be creative! Pots and containers for your plantings come in so many shapes and sizes.


chinoiserie planter

Pots And Traditional Round Planters

Pots and planters are any decorative containers no matter what the shape. They are synonyms! But to make it easy, we are going to use the common meaning of a pot: any round container for a self-contained garden.

Round planters offer several benefits as container gardens, making them an excellent choice for gardeners. Their circular shape allows for optimal root distribution, which helps plants grow more evenly and reduces the risk of root crowding.

This design also promotes better air circulation around the plants, contributing to healthier growth. Round planters are versatile and aesthetically pleasing, fitting well into various garden designs and spaces, whether on a patio, balcony, or yard. Round pots work best on patios and where they can be viewed 360 degrees.

They are easy to move and rotate, ensuring that plants receive uniform sunlight exposure.

Round pots are probably the most versatile garden containers!

a round blue planter with purple pansies in it


hydrangeas in planters on the porch

Planter raised bed gardens, which are larger and immovable container gardens, offer a host of benefits for gardeners. These substantial structures provide a dedicated and well-defined growing space that allows for greater control over soil quality, moisture levels, and weed management.

Their elevated design enhances drainage and prevents soil compaction. The permanence of planter beds makes them a stable and reliable option, capable of supporting a diverse range of plants, from vegetables and herbs to flowers and shrubs.

By investing in a planter, you create a durable and efficient gardening environment that enhances the aesthetic look of your outdoor space. Planters make wonderful “dividers” or natural screens for a patio or even a driveway.

At our StoneGable home, we had a trio of large black, self-watering planters on the patio that separated the porch from the patio. When we moved from StoneGable, we gave the planters with the hydrangeas in them to our daughter, who lives on Capitol Hill. We were visiting last weekend, and the planters still look great, and the hydrangeas are starting to bloom.

If you love the idea of having gorgeous hydrangeas all summer long in planters on your porch or patio, you will want to see HOW TO PLANT HYDRANGEAS IN POTS AND PLANTERS.

Raised Beds

herbs in container garden on the patio

Raised bed gardens offer numerous benefits that make them a popular choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.

One of the key advantages is improved soil quality; you can fill the beds with a customized soil mix that is rich in nutrients and free from weeds and pests. Raised beds also provide better drainage, reducing the risk of waterlogged roots and promoting healthier plant growth. They are easier to access, reducing the strain on your back and knees, which is especially beneficial for older gardeners (like me) or those with mobility issues.

Raised beds can extend the growing season, as the soil warms up faster in the spring and stays warmer later into the fall. I plant herbs and annuals often in April, and many of my plants last until a hard frost.

Raised bed container gardens are a personal favorite of mine! Here is a post about HOW TO PLANT A KITCHEN HERB GARDEN IN RAISED BEDS.

Hanging Baskets

hanging baskets of tiny purple flowers

Hanging baskets offer a unique and visually appealing way to plant annuals, and they can also bring several benefits to your garden space.

geraniums in a hanging basket

These elevated containers save ground space and can be placed in areas where traditional garden beds might not be feasible, such as patios, balconies, and entryways. Hanging baskets provide excellent drainage, which is particularly beneficial for annuals that prefer well-drained soil, reducing the risk of root rot.

Hanging baskets also add a cascading display of color and texture that can enhance vertical space and draw the eye upwards, adding depth and interest to your garden design. They are easy to reposition to optimize light exposure.

Self Watering Container Gardens

self watering gage in a container garden

Self-watering container gardens offer a lot of advantages that make them a valuable addition to any gardening setup.

These inventive containers feature a built-in reservoir system that delivers a consistent supply of water to the plants’ roots, significantly reducing the need for frequent manual watering. This consistent moisture level helps prevent both under and over-watering, promoting healthier and more robust plant growth.

Self-watering containers are especially beneficial for busy gardeners or those who travel frequently, as they can often go weeks without needing attention. They enhance water efficiency by minimizing evaporation and runoff, making them an eco-friendly choice. With the convenience and efficiency of self-watering container gardens, you can enjoy thriving plants with less effort and worry.

Self-watering pots are especially nice when a container gets full sun and water from the soil evaporates quickly. They are also perfect for “thirsty plants”!

Self-watering containers are by far my containers of choice.

Tower Gardens

veggies growing in a tower garden

Tower gardens are an exceptional choice for adding a vibrant and productive container garden to your home. These vertical gardening systems utilize aeroponic technology to grow a wide variety of plants in a compact space, making them ideal for urban environments or limited outdoor areas.

Tower gardens allow you to maximize your growing potential by stacking multiple tiers of planting slots, creating a striking vertical display of lush foliage and vibrant produce. With their efficient water and nutrient delivery system, Tower gardens promote faster growth and higher yields compared to traditional soil-based gardening methods.

Their innovative design not only conserves water but also reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, making them an eco-friendly option. Whether you’re cultivating herbs, vegetables, or ornamental plants, Tower Gardens offers a convenient and space-saving solution for bringing greenery, flowers, and vegetables into your home.

lettuce in a tower garden

You can find out more about tower gardens HERE.

Also, see FUN FUNCTIONAL TOWER GARDENS, where we show you how we put together and use our tower garden on our patio!

The Contents Of A Container Garden

hot pink geraniums in a blue and white ceramic pot


sage being planted in a galvanized tub herb garden

The soil in a container garden plays a fundamental role in the health and vitality of your plants.

Unlike in-ground gardens where plants can send their roots deep into the earth to access nutrients and moisture, container plants rely solely on the soil within their confined space. Therefore, choosing the right soil mix is crucial.

A high-quality potting mix ensures proper drainage, aeration, and nutrient availability, providing a supportive environment for root growth. The soil in containers needs to be replenished seasonally, as nutrients can become depleted more quickly compared to garden beds. By emphasizing soil health and selecting the appropriate mix for your container garden, you lay the foundation for thriving plants and a good harvest.

dirt in a  container garden

Many potting soil varieties also contain timed-release plant food, which can usually last all summer long.

Other types of soil are actually “soil-less.” Many varieties rely on sphagnum moss and other water-retaining materials. Some plants can even be grown in an aquaponic environment. They grow in water infused with rich nutrients. My tower garden is a great example of aquaponic gardening.

One sure way to guarantee a thriving container garden is to use the best potting soil available to you!


herbs and flowers in a container garden

Good drainage is essential for the success of a container garden, as it directly impacts the health and vigor of the plants.

Without proper drainage, excess water can accumulate in the soil, leading to waterlogged roots and, eventually, root rot. This can deprive plants of oxygen, inhibit nutrient uptake, and create an environment conducive to fungal diseases. By making sure containers have adequate drainage holes and using a well-draining potting mix, you create an environment where water can freely flow through the soil, preventing waterlogging and promoting healthy root development.

Good drainage also helps regulate soil moisture levels, reducing the risk of overwatering and allowing plants to thrive in optimal growing conditions.

drainage holes in a galvanized tub used as a container garden


herb garden in various pots and containers on the patio with birdbath and bird feeders

Now for the fun part of container gardening!

Let’s choose what to put in our pots, urns, planters, and other containers! There are so many options. The goal is to choose plants that will thrive in your area and choose the perfect places to put them! Shade, sun, partial shade, zone 6, zone 2, arid, and humid are all things to consider.

Here’s a great tip…

Opt for plants available at your nearby garden stores! They typically stock varieties that flourish in your region.


brightly colored annuals

Using annuals in container gardens offers several advantages for gardeners.

Firstly, annuals provide an opportunity to introduce vibrant colors and seasonal blooms into your outdoor space, enhancing its visual appeal. Since annuals complete their life cycle within one growing season, they offer flexibility for changing your garden’s design and theme each year.

Also, annuals are often fast-growing and prolific bloomers, providing a quick burst of color and foliage to container arrangements. They also tend to be more readily available at garden centers, offering a wide variety of options to suit your preferences and garden conditions.

With their versatility, aesthetic appeal, and ease of cultivation, annuals are an excellent choice for creating stunning container gardens that can be refreshed and redesigned with each growing season.

For a summer container garden you can’t beat a planter filled with showy annuals!


rosemary  ready to be planted

Growing herbs in a container garden offers numerous benefits for both novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Herbs are typically compact plants that thrive in confined spaces, making them ideal candidates for container cultivation, even on small balconies or in windowsills. Their aromatic foliage adds a delightful fragrance to outdoor spaces and can also help repel pests.

Having fresh herbs at your fingertips encourages culinary experimentation. It allows you to elevate your dishes with homegrown flavors while reducing the need for store-bought herbs.

Herbs are generally low-maintenance, requiring minimal watering and care compared to other garden plants. With their culinary versatility, space-saving nature, and ease of cultivation, herbs are a rewarding addition to any container garden, providing both practical and sensory benefits for gardeners.

Depending on your location, some herbs winter over well and can be considered perennials.

variegated sage in pots

Here are a few of my favorite herbs to grow in container gardens…

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil is a popular culinary herb known for its vibrant flavor and aroma. It prefers well-draining soil and ample sunlight, making it an excellent choice for container gardens. Regular harvesting encourages bushy growth.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Thyme is a versatile herb with a savory, earthy flavor. It thrives in containers with good drainage and appreciates full sun. Thyme is drought-tolerant and easy to grow, making it ideal for novice gardeners.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is a fragrant herb with needle-like leaves and a distinctive piney flavor. It prefers well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Rosemary can grow quite large, so choose a deep container to accommodate its root system.
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): Parsley is a biennial herb prized for its fresh, vibrant flavor and versatility in culinary dishes. It grows well in containers with moist, well-drained soil and partial sunlight. Regular harvesting promotes continuous growth.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are a mild-flavored herb with slender, hollow leaves and delicate purple flowers. They thrive in containers with rich, well-draining soil that is partial to full sunlight. Chives are easy to grow and can be harvested frequently.
  • Mint (Mentha spp.): Mint is a vigorous herb known for its refreshing flavor and aroma. It grows well in containers but can be invasive, so it’s best to plant it in a separate container to prevent it from spreading. Mint prefers moist soil and partial shade to prevent wilting in hot weather.
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum): Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a flavorful herb used in various cuisines worldwide. It grows best in containers with well-draining soil and partial sunlight. Cilantro bolts quickly in hot weather, so frequent harvesting is essential to prolong its harvest.
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage is a hardy herb with silvery-green foliage and a robust flavor. It thrives in containers with well-drained soil and full sun. Once established, sage is drought-tolerant but benefits from occasional watering during dry spells.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Oregano is a pungent herb with a warm, aromatic flavor commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine. It prefers well-drained soil and full sunlight, making it an excellent candidate for container gardens. Oregano is drought-tolerant and can be harvested throughout the growing season.
  • Bay (Laurus nobilis): Bay, also known as bay laurel, is a perennial herb with glossy, dark green leaves and a rich, savory flavor. It thrives in containers with well-drained soil and partial to full sunlight. Bay is relatively low-maintenance and adds depth of flavor to soups, stews, and sauces.

These herbs are excellent choices for container gardens, providing both culinary delights and aromatic beauty with minimal maintenance.

Herbs That Sould Be Planted In Their Own Pots

mint in terracotta pots

Some plants just do better alone. Here are a few that are happier in their own pots.

  • Mint (Mentha spp.): Mint is a vigorous herb that tends to spread rapidly via underground runners. Planting mint in its own pot prevents it from overtaking other herbs in a mixed container garden. Containing mint in a separate pot helps control its growth and prevents it from becoming invasive.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Oregano is a fast-growing herb that can quickly outcompete other plants in a container garden. Planting oregano in its own pot allows it to spread freely without crowding or overshadowing neighboring herbs. It also ensures that oregano receives adequate space and resources to thrive.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary is a perennial herb with a deep root system that requires ample space to grow. Planting rosemary in its own pot provides sufficient room for its roots to develop and prevents competition with other herbs for water and nutrients. Additionally, rosemary can grow quite large, so planting it in a separate pot allows for better management of its size and growth.
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): Lemongrass is a tall, grass-like herb with an aggressive growth habit. Planting lemongrass in its own pot prevents it from spreading and taking over a container garden. It also allows for better control of its size and makes it easier to harvest stalks as needed.


back patio and porch with rocking chairs and hydrangeas in planters

Planting perennials in container gardens offers several advantages for gardeners seeking long-term beauty and sustainability.

Perennials, with their ability to return year after year, provide a sense of permanence and stability to container arrangements, reducing the need for frequent replanting. By selecting perennial varieties suited to their growing conditions, gardeners can create low-maintenance container gardens that require minimal upkeep once established.

Perennials often offer a longer blooming period compared to annuals, providing continuous color and interest throughout the seasons. Container-grown perennials can also be easily moved to different locations to accommodate changing sunlight patterns or aesthetic preferences.

Incorporating perennials into container gardens adds depth, resilience, and lasting beauty to outdoor spaces, making them a rewarding choice for gardeners of all levels.

Best Perennials For Container Gardens

Here are some popular perennials to plant in container gardens…

  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.): Lavender is a fragrant perennial herb with beautiful purple, blue, or white flowers. It thrives in containers with well-draining soil and full sunlight. Once established, lavender is drought-tolerant and attracts pollinators to the garden.
  • Sedum (Sedum spp.): Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a versatile perennial with succulent foliage and clusters of colorful flowers. It prefers containers with good drainage and full to partial sunlight. Sedum is drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, making it ideal for container gardens.
  • Heuchera (Heuchera spp.): Heuchera, commonly known as coral bells, is a perennial prized for its colorful foliage and delicate flowers. It grows well in containers with moist, well-drained soil and partial shade. Heuchera adds texture and interest to container arrangements and attracts hummingbirds.
  • Hosta (Hosta spp.): Hosta is a shade-loving perennial known for its lush foliage and elegant appearance. It thrives in containers with rich, well-draining soil and partial to full shade. Hosta comes in a variety of sizes and colors, making it a versatile choice for container gardens.
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.): Daylilies are hardy perennials with vibrant, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom throughout the summer. They prefer containers with well-drained soil and full sunlight. Daylilies are drought-tolerant once established and attract butterflies to the garden.
  • Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.): Coreopsis, also known as tickseed, is a cheerful perennial with daisy-like flowers that bloom from spring to fall. It thrives in containers with well-draining soil and full sunlight. Coreopsis is drought-tolerant and attracts bees and butterflies to the garden.
  • Salvia (Salvia spp.): Salvia is a perennial herb with spikes of colorful flowers that attract pollinators to the garden. It grows well in containers with well-drained soil and full sunlight. Once established, salvia is drought-tolerant and adds vertical interest to container gardens.
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.): Hydrangeas are beloved flowering shrubs known for their large, showy blooms that come in various colors. They thrive in containers with well-draining soil and partial shade to full sunlight, depending on the variety. Hydrangeas add a touch of elegance and charm to container gardens, especially on patios or balconies.

Container gardening offers a myriad of benefits that make it an appealing and rewarding endeavor for gardeners of all levels.

Whether you’re limited by space, soil quality, or mobility, container gardening provides a smart solution that allows you to grow and enjoy a lush and beautiful garden virtually anywhere. With the ability to customize soil, choose suitable containers, and select a diverse array of plants, container gardening offers endless possibilities for creativity and personalization.

Container gardening also fosters a deeper connection to nature, and it is good for your soul.

I hope you will consider container gardening in your outdoor spaces.

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  1. WOW, nice job. I don’t think I have ever read such a complete collection of info on container gardening. This must have taken some time to compile all this great info and I thank you so much. Have a blessed day, Sharon

  2. Hi Yvonne,
    I had just mentioned to my husband that I wanted to look over our pots to make a list for the coming season and this post turned up! What a wonderful way to enjoy a cup of coffee.
    BTW, I no longer receive your regular emails. Is there a way to re-enroll?

    1. You are so sweet Margo. I’ll resubscribe you. You will get an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Make sure you click on CONFIRM. And I’m sending along our Summer e-Magazine.

  3. Beautiful pictures and great information. I do a lot of container gardening because we have underground utilities which limits the amount of ground digging you can do. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Dorothy Boucher says:

    I am loving what you did here, and to me nothing speaks more than planting flowers for the Spring and Summer months.