Tips for growing successful container gardens

Follow this advice about container gardens to grow healthy flowers, herbs and vegetables almost anywhere.


Planting a garden is a traditional springtime activity, and planting container gardens is growing more popular every year. Container gardening is the perfect way to grow plants if you don’t have enough garden space for a traditional vegetable garden or flower bed. Growing container gardens also makes it possible to grow herbs, flowers and even vegetables on decks, patios, balconies, or right outside the kitchen door.

There are three things you need to consider before you dive into container gardening. The first is where you want to put your container garden. The second is determining what plants you want to grow. Third, you must choose the right containers for your container garden.


Choose the Right Location for Container Gardens

Sometimes it’s easy to select a spot for your container garden. If all you have is a balcony or a spot next to your doorstep, deciding where to put your growing containers is simple. Just pick a sunny spot in the space that’s available.

But what if you have several locations to choose from when planning a container garden? If you’re growing most vegetables or flowers, selecting a spot that gets about 6 hours of sunlight is a good first step.

Another important consideration is access to water. The best locations are within easy hose distance. It’s also smart to choose a location that isn’t against a hot, sun-facing wall. Plants that are grown in containers can easily get too hot and too dry in conditions that resemble a bright, sunny oven.

Also, make sure your container gardening spot is easily accessible. You don’t want to tuck it away behind the garage and forget about it. Choose a location that’s visible so you can see and enjoy your plants.


Choose the Right Containers for your Garden

container gardening is a wonderful way to grow flowers on a deck
Summer flowers look great in this container garden.


As container gardening has grown in popularity during the past few years, many different kinds of containers have been introduced that make container gardening easier and more productive. Traditional terracotta or ceramic pots with a single drainage hole in the bottom can be used to grow small plants like flowers and herbs. Self-irrigated containers, which have a built-in water reservoir that keeps plants comfortably moist, make it easy and efficient to plant salad greens, larger edible plants and even a bee-friendly flower garden.


Self-Watering Containers

The newest type of container is called a “self-watering” container. This high-tech approach to growing plants takes advantage of the “capillary action” of soil and potting mix. Water is added to the reservoir at the bottom of the container. Then the water gets wicked up into the potting mix, where it can thoroughly hydrate the plant roots growing in the container.

City Jungle planter for growing successful container gardens
The City Jungle with trellis is perfect for growing plants like tomatoes and beans almost anywhere.


The City Jungle from Biogreen is the newest self-watering container on the market. It was developed in Germany to provide the best growing environment for plants of all kinds. It is perfect for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers in almost any setting—from balconies and porches to terraces decks. The City Jungle growing planter is also a great choice for rooftop gardens in urban settings. Even the tiniest sunny spot can now become a healthy garden.

The sturdy growing box measures 2 feet long by 1 foot wide by 1 foot deep, and it holds a generous 9 gallons of potting mix. The two square feet of growing area is large enough for two mature tomato plants or other large plants. Peppers, eggplant, squash, salad greens and other vegetable plants and herbs also thrive in the self-watering City Jungle container.

Cutaway of the BioGreen City Jungle self-watering container
The City Jungle self-watering planter from BioGreen keeps roots hydrated for healthy plants.


The water reservoir holds 4.5 gallons, so plants can go for days without watering in most climates. Water is added to the reservoir with a watering can or hose through the handy hole cut out of the front wall of the container.

For taller plants such as tomatoes, a sturdy trellis can be added. The City Jungle Trellis provides plenty of support for tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas and most tall or vining plants. The City Jungle growing container sells for $69.99. The trellis sells for $39.99. Or, buy the City Jungle with Trellis for $99.99. City Jungle products are available from Amazon.


Raised Bed Gardens

Container gardening can be a great choice for specific areas in a backyard.  Raised bed containers are useful to define garden spaces in a yard and provide favorable garden conditions in places that may lack fertile soil. This type of planter can be a good choice for both beginning and experienced gardeners. Raised garden beds are perfect for small vegetable gardens—and they work great for flower beds, too.

A raised bed garden filled with healthy plants
Raised beds can create garden spaces throughout a yard, and they minimize the need for weeding.


A raised bed can be constructed of wood that’s available at home centers and lumber yards. It’s not difficult, and many How to Build a Raised Bed instructions can be found online. Also available are kits for raised beds that contain all the lumber and components. Some kits even offer maintenance-free raised beds. Typically, these are made of weather-proof plastic or vinyl that (unlike most wood) does not need to be treated to protect it from the sun and weather.

By using raised beds, you can eliminate the need for tilling and soil amendment. Plus, raised bed container gardening minimizes the need for weeding. Raised bed gardens are great for “square foot” gardens that maximize the amount of vegetables that can be grown in a smaller space.


Choose the Right Plants for Container Gardening

Last but certainly not least, it’s important to select the right plant varieties for container growing. Because containers are confined spaces, the mature size of a plant is an important factor to consider when choosing plant varieties for container gardens. This is especially true when growing vegetables in containers.

Spinach is perfect for container gardening
Spinach is a great choice for container gardens because it is easy to grow and the plants stay small.


Salad greens are great for growing in containers, because leafy edibles such as spinach, lettuce and arugula stay small. Radishes and chives are also great for container growing because of their small size. Many herbs, including parsley, basil and coriander make great container garden plants.

Peppers and eggplants, which grow on medium-sized woody plants, grow well in larger containers. Some tomatoes can thrive in container garden situations—but you must choose the right varieties and the right containers.

Tomato varieties are classified as indeterminate or determinate. Indeterminate plants keep getting bigger and bigger all summer long, while determinate plants grow to a certain size and stop. For that reason, only determinate tomato varieties can be successfully grown in small containers. If you want to grow indeterminate tomatoes in your container garden, grow them in a City Jungle self-watering container or a raised bed.


But Wait, There’s More

For additional information about vegetable varieties that will grow well in container gardens, read Top 10 Vegetables for Container Gardening.  You’ll also enjoy Best New Vegetable Seeds and Plants for Your Garden.


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