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A Guide To Container Growing + The Best Plants For Container Growing

A Guide To Container Growing

Growing in containers is a useful method for small space gardening like on apartment balconies and more. It is also great if you have limited mobility and still want to enjoy gardening. These are just a couple of reasons why container gardening might be useful to you. With so many benefits to container gardening why not jump right in with this informative guide! Our containerized growing experts are excited to lead you through best practices and tips for container gardening in this informative step by step guide. We hope this guide will help you start your container growing journey with confidence!!

Now lets go ahead and get started!


Assorted Pots

The most important thing to consider when choosing the right container for the long term is the size and number of plants you intend to grow in each container. For example, perennials have smaller root systems and will require much less space than small trees or shrubs. Use the simple chart below to help you estimate the right size of pots for your specific application.

Plant Type Pot Size Required
1 Perennial 5 Gallon Pot
Multiple Perennials 10-20 Gallon Pot
1 Shrub/Dwarf Tree 10-20 Gallon Pot
1 Shrub/Dwarf Tree + Multiple Perennial 30 Gallon Pot


Make sure to use well draining pots. For ease of transplanting, maintenance and pruning we recommend planting in standard black plastic nursery pots of a slightly smaller size then the decorative pots you intend to use so you can simply slip them in and out as required.


choosing right soil

Most grow media used today are soilless and contain only a small fraction of soil. Virgin soil can contain weeds, pathogens and significantly reduce drainage and porosity. For this reason soilless media are recommended for containerized growing. You can buy soilless grow media or mix your own. If building your own soil we recommend using the following materials and ratio.

Material Percentage
Wood waste (decomposed mulch or sawdust) 60%
Peat Moss 30%
Clean Compost 10%


The goal is to achieve a total porosity of 50% or greater and a water holding capacity of about 25-30%. Great drainage is absolutely key in container growing and a simple water volume drainage test can determine whether you have achieved the desired thresholds. Pour a volume of water equal to the amount of soil in the pot through the soil in the container. 70% of the water volume should drain out of the pot.


When To Water

The best way to tell when to water is by feel. If you are unsure simply stick your finger into the soil. We recommend watering once the top 2 inches of soil on smaller containers is dry and once the top 4 inches of soil is dry on larger containers. With proper and well draining growing media, over and under watering becomes much less of a concern.


 When watering, avoid splashing the foliage and flowers and always water directly to the roots whenever possible. Watering the foliage can cause damage via pathogens, pests and shock. Always water in the early mornings or evenings whenever possible and out of direct heat and sun.



Many methods can be used to increase your chances at successfully overwintering containerized plants. In areas where readily available before it gets to cold, snow can be used as an effective way to protect and insulate the roots. Alternatively you can simply dig a hole in the ground the same size as the pot and rest the potted plant into the hole. This will provide extra insulation to ensure the best chance at overwintering. You can also keep potted plants in an unheated garage or shed over the winter if you have one available, and although convenient it is not necessary for successful overwintering.


If you would like to overwinter potted plants without worrying about extra winterization steps simply plant varieties 1 zone hardier than the zone you live in. (See our zone guide to help you determine your growing zone) Plants should be moist but not overly wet before freezing occurs. If you have multiple containers huddle them up and provide extra insulation to more tender plants by placing them in the middle.

Container gardening can be a fun and rewarding way to grow plants in any application. Follow this easy guide and you'll be on your way to a bountiful harvest or a colorful display of flowers!


  • Thank you for information was appreciated.

    Frances Vitols
  • Great tips for over-wintering that I am going to use. Thank you so much.

    Deanne Jewell

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