Woman tending to her container garden
Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation 
Container gardening is just that—gardening in a container. Nearly any container will do, though some are more ideal than others. Container gardening is a great way to recycle items that you can't bear to part with but have outlived their original function, such as an old wheelbarrow, bucket or barrel. 

Types of containers

  • Planter boxes
  • Wooden barrels
  • Hanging baskets
  • Flowerpots
Containers to avoid
  • Containers with narrow openings
  • Plastic, terracotta and wooden containers that have been stained, painted or treated with creosote, penta or toxic compounds that can damage the plants 

  • Adequate drainage is needed
  • Containers should be between 15 and 120 quarts (small pots restrict the roots and dry out quickly)


  • Five hours direct sunlight each day
  • Leafy vegetables can tolerate most shade; root crops need the most sun
  • Sunlight for flowers varies on the varieties—consult flower guides

  • Some flowerpots may be pricey—glazed ceramic, for instance, can run as much as $100; a good gardening center should have a healthy array of options to fit any budget.
  • Number of plants grown will depend on size of container—for instance, deep rooted vegetables require deep pots 
  • Must be watered frequently—'often as once or twice a day, especially in hot, sunny, dry weather
  • Must be fertilized regularly, though according to particular fertilizer instructions, additional nutrients must be added throughout the seasons (once every week or two)
  • Flowers must be groomed 
Ideal for...

  • Those new to gardening
  • Those living in apartments or without a large yard
  • Recycling enthusiasts
  • Those looking to decorate easily and cheaply
  • Growing herbs indoors
What about windowsill gardening?  


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