11 Great Container Gardening Tips For Beginners: What You Need to Know

Container gardening
You can create a beautiful, functional container garden

Looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to start gardening?  Then container gardening might be the way to go!

One of the great things about container gardening is, you can set it up anywhere – inside or outside.  It doesn’t need a lot of space and you can grow a wide variety of plants in a container garden.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to help you to set up and maintain your own container garden.

So, if you’re ready to get started, keep reading.

1. Start Small

When you’re just starting out with container gardening, it’s a good idea to start small. That way, you can get a feel for how container gardening works and what types of plants grow well in your environment. You’ll also be able to figure out what type of containers and soil work best for you.

Once you’ve mastered container gardening on a small scale, you can then start expanding your garden. Before you know it, you’ll be a container gardening expert!

2. Find The Best Location For Your Container Garden

Container garden location
You can set up your container garden almost anywhere.

Container gardening can be done almost anywhere – sun or shade. But, the best place to set up a container garden is in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. That way, your plants will grow healthy and strong.

If you have a little space in your backyard, container gardening is a great way to use that space. You can also set up container gardens on patios, decks, and balconies. Try to find an area that gets plenty of sunlight.

You can also set up a container garden indoors if you have no space outside. Look for a window that gets lots of sunlight.   If there’s no space in your home that gets a lot of sunlight, you can use grow lights.

Remember – most plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day for proper growth and development.

3. The Best Plants For Container Gardening

Best plants for container gardening

When it comes to container gardening, one of the most important things is selecting the right plants. There are many plants that can grow well in containers.  These include a wide variety of herbs, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Be sure to research which plants grow well in your climate.

For an indoor container garden, where space is limited, herbs are a great choice.   Read our gardening guide on “Growing Herbs Indoors” for some great tips and ideas.

You can also grow a variety of decorative plants indoors that don’t require a lot of space.  Some good options include African violets, begonias, Boston ferns, and spider plants, to name a few. These plants are easy to care for and will add some life and color to your home.

If you have a greenhouse or enough space outside, vegetables and dwarf fruit trees are excellent options.

Whether you choose to start your container garden indoors or outdoors, be sure to choose plants that require the same amount of sunlight and water.

4. Choose The Right Containers For Your Plants

Best containers for container gardening
Choose containers that are suitable for your plants and your environment.

Of course, container gardening cannot be called container gardening without containers. Finding the right containers for your plants is important as it will determine how well your plants grow.

There are so many container options available.  If this is your first attempt at container gardening, choosing the right containers can seem overwhelming at first.  However, once you get to know more about them, it will become easier to make wise container choices.

The type of container that’s best suited depends on where your garden will be located – indoors or outdoors?

Small plastic containers can be used in a small indoor container garden.  If you plan to grow relatively large house plants, get bigger plastic or fiberglass containers.  Plastic or fiberglass containers are lightweight and easy to move around.

For outdoor container gardens, use materials that can withstand the weather conditions in your area.  Fiberglass is a good option to consider.  This material can withstand outdoor conditions relatively well.

Just make sure that whatever container you choose has enough drainage holes. This will allow water to run off and not sit in the pot and rot the roots of your plants. 

Also, consider the size of the container in relation to the plant’s mature size. You’ll need containers that are big enough for the plant’s root system with room around them. This will prevent crowding when it grows bigger (this also helps prevent diseases). A container that is too small won’t allow enough room for root development. This may cause problems with nutrient deficiencies or water retention issues as well.

One other thing you should consider when choosing containers is color and style.  Your container should complement your home’s style and decor, so choose according to your taste.

5. The Best soil type For Container Gardening

One of the most important aspects of container gardening is getting the right soil type.

When it comes to container gardening, you want soil that will retain moisture well. This is because container gardens tend to dry out faster than gardens planted in the ground.

There are container soil mixes or container potting soil available at your local nursery. They will work well for container gardens. Don’t use regular garden soil. It won’t retain water well and may not have the right nutrients for container gardening.

Make sure that you buy a good quality container mix/soil so you don’t run into problems later on with things like root rot, nutrient deficiencies, etc.

If you’re really adventurous, you can make your own homemade container mix or potting soil by following this recipe:

  • Two parts coconut coir (or peat moss) – This ingredient helps improve moisture retention in the potting medium and keeps it loose.
  • Two parts compost – Compost improves the soil’s ability to hold moisture and nutrients.  It also increases the potting soil’s capacity to circulate oxygen (aeration) and reduces compaction.  This allows for better root development.
  • One part perlite or coarse sand – This ingredient adds porosity to the container mix, allowing for water and airflow.  Perlite also helps in maintaining moisture levels.
  • One part worm castings – Worm castings are an organic fertilizer that improves container soil. It increases its nutrient content as well as improves its structure, aeration, and drainage capacity.

Once you’ve gathered all these ingredients together, mix them thoroughly before using them in your containers.  It’s a good idea to use this potting medium when it’s fresh so you get optimum results!

If you’re growing container plants from seeds, use a seed starting mix in your container.

6. How To Plant Seeds And Seedlings In Containers

If you’re new to container gardening, it’s important to know how to plant your seeds and seedlings correctly. Here are a few tips:

Planting Seeds In Containers

Use the following 3 steps when planting seeds in containers:

  • Step one: place your container on a flat surface and fill it with seed starting mix.
  • Step two: Make a small hole in the seed starting mix with your finger or a pencil.  Be sure to plant them at the correct depth. Most seeds should be planted twice as deep as they are wide. The larger the seed the deeper it should be planted. A depth between 1/4 to 1/2 inches should be alright for most seeds.
  • Step three:  Place one or two seeds in the hole and cover with soil, then water them.

In a few days or weeks, the seeds will begin to germinate.  The other topics below will tell you how to take care of them once they begin to grow.

Planting Seedlings In Containers

Use the following steps when planting seedlings in containers:

  1. Fill the container with potting soil, leaving about an inch or two of space at the top of the container.
  2. Use a small trowel or spoon to dig a hole in the container’s soil. Make sure that the hole is wide enough and deep enough to hold the seedling.
  3. Place the seedling in the hole and cover it with soil and tamp it down gently with your hand.  Be careful not to damage the roots of the seedlings when planting them.
  4. Water the container thoroughly.

We’ve written an entire article on “Growing Seedlings Indoors“. We recommend that you check it out.

7. Water your container garden Correctly

Watering container plants
Water container plants correctly.

Watering is an essential aspect of container gardening.  You must water your plants correctly and consistently for them to grow healthy and strong.

You should check your container plants daily, especially during hot weather, and give them a good watering until the soil is wet all the way through.

How often should you water container plants? It’s best to get in the habit of watering container plants daily or every other day.

When watering your container plants, it’s best to use a watering can or a hose with a gentle spray.  You can also use a drip irrigation system for container plants.

Try to avoid getting the leaves wet, as this could lead to fungal diseases.  Watering from below is best.

We have dedicated an entire article on watering plants correctly.  Please read this article for more great tips on how to correctly water your container plants.

8. Fertilize your plants Regularly

Fertilizer for container plants.
Your container plants need regular food as well. Get a good fertilizer.

Fertilizing container plants is a must.

You have to provide them with the right amounts of fertilizer throughout the year. This will ensure better growth and more blooms!

You’ll need a good fertilizer that’s specifically formulated for container gardens. We recommend using a good water-soluble fertilizer.  You can also use a slow-release fertilizer once a month.

With slow-release fertilizers, you don’t have to apply them as often. They last longer than other types of plant foods – so less work for you.  You can find many different kinds in stores but we recommend getting one with micronutrients like iron and zinc.

Remember to follow the directions on the package, so you’ll know how much to use.

If you want to learn how to make your own fertilizer, check out our article called: “7 Easy And Effective Homemade Fertilizer Recipes

9. How To Deal With Pests And Diseases?

With container gardening, you don’t have to worry about pests and diseases as much as you would if your plants were in the ground. Regardless, plants grown in containers are still vulnerable to parasitic insects, bacteria, and fungi. If left untreated these parasites can affect not just the plant itself but also other plants nearby.

Here is a look at some common pests and diseases that can infect your container garden:


Aphids – These small soft body pear-shaped bugs tend to be found on new growth such as stems and leaves of young container plants. They feed by sucking sap from tender plant parts which causes them to become yellow or distorted in appearance over time.

You can treat aphids by spraying them off with a strong stream of water. If this doesn’t work you can use insecticidal soap to get rid of them.


Thrips – These tiny, slender pests are often overlooked until container plants begin to show signs of damage such as leaf or flower distortion and discoloration.

Thrips can be eliminated by using an insecticide labeled specifically for thrips control. But be sure that the container plant does not have sensitive flowers since some products can harm pollinators.


Mealybugs – Mealybugs look like small white cotton balls. They feed by sucking sap from stems, leaves, or other tender parts of plants. They can cause stunted growth over time. If left untreated long enough they will kill the entire container garden plants.

They can be treated with insecticidal soap. If that doesn’t work you may need to use an insecticide designed specifically for dealing with mealybugs. You can check your local garden shop or online.


Scale – This container garden pest is difficult to get rid of.  It tends to hide under leaves where it feeds by sucking sap which causes yellowing, stunted growth.

If left untreated long enough they will eventually kill your container plants over time.

To treat pests such as scale, you can use insecticidal soap or natural oils.


Whiteflies – These small white insects are commonly found on the undersides of leaves or near flowers. They feed off the plants’ sap, causing them to become yellow, distorted in shape, and covered in a sticky substance.

Whiteflies can be eliminated by using an insecticide labeled for whitefly control.

Fungus Gnats
Fungus Gnats

Fungus Gnats – These tiny black flies tend to swarm around container plants when the soil is wet and will lay their eggs there. The larvae that hatch from the eggs feed on plant roots which can cause container plants to become stunted over time.

Fungus gnats can be eliminated by applying an insecticide labeled for fungus gnat control.

Spider Mites
Spider Mites

Spider Mites – These pests are sometimes referred to as web-spinning mites and are often found on the undersides of leaves.

They feed off plant sap causing yellowing, distortion in shape, or even death of the plant. The damage caused by spider mites is made worse when combined with water stress.

Spider mites can be eliminated by using an insecticide for spider mite control.

Bacteria – This pest is often a result of overwatering. It causes leaves to turn yellow and drop off. It can also cause stem rot and even the death of the plant. There is no treatment for bacteria other than removing the infected plant from the container garden.

Fungi – This garden pest causes container plants to develop spots and turn yellow. They can also cause distortion in shape and even kill container plants over time. To treat fungi you need to remove the infected container plant from the container garden. This will prevent it from spreading to other plants.

If you are having trouble identifying a container garden pest or disease, there are many online resources with pictures and descriptions of what to look for.

10. Know When To Harvest

If your container garden includes edible plants, like herbs and vegetables, it is important that you harvest them at the right time. Harvesting your plants too early or too late can affect their taste and nutrient content.

Herbs should be harvested frequently so they don’t flower. Once an herb flowers, it stops producing leaves and starts producing seeds. So, if you’re using herbs for cooking, make sure to harvest them before they flower. [1]

Most vegetables can be harvested at different times. It depends on the type of vegetable and how you plan to use it. For example, when using leafy greens in salads, you can harvest them when they are young. Otherwise, you can wait until they are more mature for cooked dishes.

For your container plants, you can do a little research to know approximately how long it takes between planting and harvesting.  You should also learn how to identify the signs of maturity of your edible plants, so you’ll know when to harvest them.

11. Expanding Your Container Garden

Once you have mastered growing a few plants in containers, it might be time to expand your container garden. You can either buy more containers and grow even more plants, or use larger containers to accommodate bigger plants (if you have space for it).

When expanding your container garden, make sure to keep the same principles in mind. Choose plants that require similar amounts of sunlight and water, and group plants with similar needs together.

If you are expanding your container garden vertically, be sure to use a sturdy container that can hold the extra weight of soil and plants.

Time To Practice What You’ve Learnt About Container Gardening

Now that you know all there is to know about container gardening, it’s time to put your skills into practice.

You can start off by planting a few herbs in some containers on your porch or patio. Not only will this add some greenery to the space, but you’ll also have easy access to fresh herbs whenever you need them.

If you’re feeling daring, try container gardening with various flowers. Choose a few of your favorites and plant them in containers that complement their appearance. If you need more great gardening ideas or inspiration, check our other gardening guides.


Our team of experienced gardeners has put together this article to help you with your gardening journey. Our goal is to ensure that your gardening experience is enjoyable and rewarding. We are constantly adding and updating articles, so take some time to explore our site.

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