Gardening How-To

Container gardening is a perfect way to explore the joy of growing plants. Our simple gardening how-to series is all you need to get started.

Be warned—growing plants is addictive! One container garden quickly leads to three, then the colorless patch of earth beside your front door will beckon for a bit of leafy life. Soon houseplants will adorn your bedside table and you'll be enveloped in the bounty and joy of caring for plants.

The following gardening how-to series is an easy way to get started. Use this guide to plant a container garden for your balcony, patio, or porch. A few minutes of planting will yield a season-long flower show.

Get Ready

Think of a container garden as a miniature version of an inground garden. Your goal is to make the finished container look good, fulfill its intended function, and thrive in a site you have selected.

The first order of business is to select a site for your container garden and note the light quality. How many hours of direct sunlight does the site receive? If it receives eight or more hours of direct light, plants rated for full sun exposure are best. (Sun exposure is noted on all plant tags.) Areas that receive four to eight hours of direct light are well suited for part sun plants. And finally, planting areas that are mostly shaded are best for shade plants.

Shop for your plants at a local garden center. Choose vigorous, blemish free plants well suited for the light conditions at your planting site. Aim to combine different plants for an inspiring container. Mix heights and forms so you have an eye-catching star plant, a medium filler, and a trailing accent.

Gather Around

Gather all your planting supplies at the garden site. Plant a large container garden in place so you don't have to move it. You will need: a large planting container with drainage holes, potting soil, plants, and water. 

Fill Halfway

Use high-quality potting mix to fill the planting container halfway. Plant the centerpiece, snuggling the plant's root ball into the soil.

Feed Now

Sprinkle continuous-release plant food on top of the soil mix. This fertilizer will last for months, eliminating the need to fertilizer later in the season.

Add Soil

Remove the other plants from their nursery pots. Set them in place so the stems of trailing plants are spilling over the edge of the container and filler plants are adding lush foliage to the base of the centerpiece plant. When all the plants are in the container, there should be little or no space available for adding more plants. Finally, use soil to fill in between the root balls.

Water Thoroughly

Water the new garden thoroughly after planting. Continue watering as needed as the season progresses. Container gardens dry out quickly and may require daily watering during stretches of hot, dry weather. In general, the larger the container, the less you'll need to water and the better your plants will perform.

Our container includes a hydrangea grown as a standard, angelonia, scented geranium, spider plant, and Swedish ivy.

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