Summer Container Gardens

Container gardens are simple solutions to the desire to dig in the dirt — plus they beautify small spaces.

By Sara Kendall


Time and space may restrict your desire to garden, but neither should inhibit your green thumb. A container garden may be the ideal solution. It will provide color and interest to an outdoor spot — a balcony, porch, patio, window box, or front stoop — and allow you to have fun in the bargain.

Before you rush out to buy the supplies for your miniature garden, consider a few essentials:

Consider the Environment

Think about the final placement of the container or containers. Is there full sun or mostly shade? Will the container not get adequate water from rain (specifically, is it under a porch roof or overhang?) or from lawn sprinklers? Can you reach the pots with a nearby hose? Or will you need a watering can?

An undeniable benefit of container gardening is having the ability to move the container around if a particular grouping of plants is not doing well. If the spot is too sunny and your plant’s edges are curling and turning brown, simply move the container to a shadier place. A spindly looking plant with long spaces between the leaves means it is not getting enough sun; move it to a sunnier area.

Container Selection

Choose the container to suit your personal style, but remember a few practical things. Beautiful, ornate terra cotta pots are heavy when filled with soil, and break more easily than plastic ones. The soil dries out more quickly than it does in plastic pots. On the other hand, plastic pots tend to have thinner walls and provide less insulation from temperature changes. Regardless of your choice, all containers need one or more holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage. Most plants do not like soggy soil.

Compatible Neighbors

Purchase flowers and foliage plants suitable to the chosen spot and containers. Read the labels carefully to make sure all the plants you want to use will thrive together in the same growing conditions

Mix tall, short and trailing plants for added variety and dimension. Upright plants add height, mounting plants are great fillers, and trailing plants soften the edges of the container. Read the growth heights on the labels to ensure you are getting a variety for a more pleasing outcome.

Red, yellow and orange flowers provide a warming effect. Blue, mauve and purple flowers have a cooling effect. Visualize your choices to see if they will clash or work perfectly together. A pop of color in just the right place can do wonders in a neutral-looking area.

Soil Selection

Good-quality soil filled with important nutrients is essential for robust growth. This is not hard to come by, as all-purpose potting mixes sold at all garden centers and most hardware stores are the best choice for your container gardening. These mixes are more suitable than dirt dug from your backyard.

Happy Planting!

Gather your materials together close to the final site for the container. Once the pot is full of dirt, water it lightly and then plant it. Avoid overcrowding and leave space between each plant to allow for growth. Your container may look sparse at first but it won’t be long before it rewards you with full, glorious growth. Remove any dead blossoms or leaves from the plants and put the container in the designated spot. Sit back and enjoy the color and greenery!