Container gardening is an important aspect to know about gardening. Many gardeners live in areas or have different situations where in-ground gardens are just not an option. Container gardening may be ideal for individuals who live in apartments, elderly people, children or people who simply do not have enough space for an in-ground garden. Not much space is needed to grow a few plants in containers! Container gardening also reduces weeds, disease issues, and is more flexible when it comes to moving plants into the sun/shade as needed.
As container gardening is such a large aspect of gardening, it is important to look at the various ways container gardening can be executed. With so many options out there, it may be difficult to choose containers. Do not fret! Any sort of container gardening can be successful. One of the joys of container gardening is being creative. Let’s take a look at some obvious and some creative ways to garden in containers.
1. Fabric Grow Bags (Check Price on Amazon)
Fabric grow pots are an effective and inexpensive way to container garden. These kinds of grow pots have many different options, from typical containers to raised fabric grow beds. They can be used indoors or outdoors.
Here is a link to some popular fabric grow bags that have different size options depending on what you are planting.
Drainage is rarely an issue when using fabric grow pots. However, if the temperature climbs above 95 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end, then it may be necessary to water fabric pots twice a day to keep plants from dying. If a grow bag with handles is used, then the pot can more easily be moved to a cooler, shady location during these heat haves.
These pots are durable and can handle going through the washing machine, multiple growing seasons and harsh weather. While plastic pots may crack, fabric pots are able to hold strong.
Fabric grow pots create great soil aeration. This is fantastic for root growth, allowing for healthier and bigger plants. In a fabric grow pot, when roots reach the sides of the container, they do not circle the container and become root bound like they can in a plastic or other solid material container pot. Instead, the roots go through a process called “air pruning”, where the roots produce many fine root “hairs” that are optimal for absorbing nutrients, moisture, and oxygen for the plant.
As with almost any container choice, not letting the soil dry out is a must-follow rule. While having a fabric grow pot allows for great aeration and temperature control, the soil in the pot can dry out pretty quickly. It is difficult to recover once the soil gets too dry in any type of container, so it is very important to check the moisture of the soil often and water accordingly.
2. Plastic Containers (Check Price on Amazon)
Plastic pots are one of the most common containers used for container gardening. Plastic pots allow for more flexibility when planting and watering plants. They have tough sides, meaning wind and sun cannot dry out the soil as easily as it can in fabric pots. Using plastic pots for container gardening allows for customization of a garden. Pots come in many different shapes, colors, and sizes!
It is important to make sure plastic pots have drainage holes in the bottom. Most will come with existing holes but not all of them do! If they do not already have drainage holes, I highly recommend cutting or drilling multiple holes in the bottom. If water cannot drain out of pots, the plant roots will drown in the sitting water and the plant will die.
Keep in mind that is possible for black or other dark colored plastic pots to absorb an excessive amount of heat during hot summer days. This could cause roots to overheat and “burn”. It’s definitely acceptable to use dark colored pots, just be careful and move them to a shady area during hot temperatures. Your plants will thank you for it anyways!
A good choice for plastic pots is to find them for free from local garden centers or nurseries. Any time a customer purchases plants from a store, they generally come in these types of pots, which can be saved and reused for container gardening! If you are not lucky enough to find nursery pots for free, you can buy them here.
Five gallons is a good standard sized pot that will work for most plants. For tomatoes or some other type of plant with a large and deep root system, a larger sized pot (closer to ten gallons) would be more beneficial. It is always better to go too large than too small, especially for plastic pots. If the container is too small, then roots will start circling the pot and become root bound. Below are some more specific guidelines for choosing the correct pot size:
- Pot depth of 4-6 inches: Various salad greens, herbs, mustards, garlic, and radishes.
- Pot depth of 8-12 inches: Peppers, cabbage, kale, chard, eggplant, beets, beans, tomatoes, carrots, and squash.
- Pot volume of 1-3 gallons: Herbs, onions, chard, radishes, dwarf tomatoes or cucumbers.
- Pot volume of 5+ gallons: Full-size tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, broccoli, cabbage, kale, eggplant, and beans.
If you are looking for a large amount of smaller sized pots to buy in bulk, this choice would be good for 4 or 6-inch pots. These would be a good option for small salad greens and herbs as listed above, or they also work great to start seedlings and transplant them to larger sized pots before putting them into the ground or their final container.
Another good option for transplanting pots are the colorful options here. These are useful to color code young seedlings into different categories. It is a fun option and could also be great fun and helpful for kids!
Grow towers are an interesting and fun way to container garden. Grow towers are typically made of thick, sturdy plastic. Grow towers add interest to a container garden, as vining plants can hang from each section. A large amount of food can be grown in a small amount of space using grow towers! Here is a link to a grow tower from Greenstalk Garden.
This grow tower is unique from other grow towers you may find in that it has a very efficient watering system. You fill the top tray with water and the water travels down to the other trays evenly, not through the soil like most other vertical grow towers. Here is a very cool and helpful graphic from their website to demonstrate this:
I just recently purchased this grow tower and will be using it this year! I will be doing a full review on it at the end of the season.
If you would like to purchase this and learn along with us, you can use this affiliate link or our coupon code to receive $10 off your purchase! Use “DNDG10OFF” at checkout!
Another benefit of grow towers is that plants that need more sunlight and plants that need more shade can be grown all in the same place! If planted strategically enough, sun-loving plants can be planted on one side and shade-loving plants can be planted on the other. Then the grow tower can be set accordingly in the proper location. Grow towers also allow for the option of shielding certain plants from the sun on demand by spinning the entire tower throughout the day.
The type of plants to put in a grow tower depends on the recommended size of container needed for the plant variety. We specified those above. In general, grow towers are fantastic containers for growing salad greens, herbs, peppers, strawberries, and flowers.
If you don’t want to purchase a grow tower you could research and build your own! Many different ways exist to construct and use grow towers. Grow towers built from PVC pipe can be hung from fences around the yard. They can also be built upright with pipe connectors or cross pieces of pipe used to create areas for plants. Grow towers can also be built from rain barrels. Holes drilled in the sides are filled with small baskets, which are then filled with soil and plants. For a better explanation of this, see this video. This is another great example of being creative in container gardening!
4. Stone Planters
Stone and concrete planters are an elegant and heavy option for container gardening. These can be especially useful to build into landscaping in the yard and create a permanent location for planters. If you live in a particularly windy area, these heavy planters may be your best bet so that plants do not blow away.
While stone and concrete planters do have some positives, these planters come with many more challenges than any other planters on this list. First, these planters are going to be very heavy. This means that once they are placed, it would be best to leave them in that spot. Depending on where they are placed, this can make yard work difficult if they are in the yard. If they are placed on a deck or patio, then the deck or patio needs to be able to support the weight of the planters full of dirt and water. For those of us that live in areas with a cold winter, concrete planters also run the risk of cracking and freezing from the temperature fluctuations.
If these planters do not already have drainage holes, this could pose a problem. Container gardening definitely requires good drainage, so a way will need to be found to drill into the concrete or stone to create holes. This runs a risk of the planters cracking or breaking if it is not executed correctly.
These kinds of planters are elegant and beautiful in landscaping. If climate and ability allow for the use of these types of planters, then they should last a long time. With effective drainage, these planters can handle all kinds of crops. Below are a few popular options for planters that are available online.
5. Laundry Baskets (Check Price on Amazon)
Gardening is supposed to be fun and it doesn’t have to be expensive! And what could be more fun than taking an old laundry basket, adding some mesh or landscape fabric, and using it to grow plants? It will still have handles to move and can be decorated to add something fun to the garden.
If you just want a few laundry baskets to add to your garden you can find them here.
If you have decided you need to make everything out of laundry baskets or need to buy baskets for both plants and laundry, try this option.
When using laundry baskets for container gardening, a bit of prep work is necessary to keep the dirt from falling out of the holes in the side of the basket. Tulle, mesh, landscape fabric or old window screens can be used to line the inside of the basket. It would also be beneficial to drill some small holes towards the bottom of the basket under the last row of slits to help with drainage as mentioned with other containers.
The best part about using laundry baskets as containers for planting is being able to alter the amount of soil in each basket depending on the plants. Laundry baskets can be used to successfully grow potatoes, onions, turnips and other root crops.
6. Self-Watering Containers (Check Price on Amazon)
If watering too much or too little is a common concern, a self-watering container may be beneficial. This product comes with a large reservoir at the bottom that helps to keep the plants hydrated. It automatically shows when to add more water by seeing the water level go down! The option listed above is a great choice for indoor gardening needs and would be perfect for succulents, house plants, herbs, and salad greens.
A different style of a self-watering container can be found here. This can be used for indoor or outdoor use and is once again good for smaller sized plants.
7. Smart Pots Fabric Raised Bed (Check Price on Amazon)
This option can be viewed as either a small raised bed or an extra large container! This may be a good option for those living in a rental home or apartment to create a larger sized garden, when they are not allowed to put one into the ground or build a permanent structure. The fabric raised beds are very sturdy and big enough to grow a variety of plants.
It is not necessary to be handy to use this type of container. No construction or installation is necessary! The only thing to do is unfold the container, fill it with potting mix and it’s ready to go!
Just like the fabric grow bags discussed earlier, these fabric pots are made of unique indigenous fabric that air prune the roots. Air pruning improves the health of plants and makes the roots stronger.
When using this bag, plants are not easily affected by pests and diseases because the bottom of the bag is designed to block burrowing insects from getting inside the bag. This means that plants will grow healthy without any disturbances. It is also important to take extra care when mixing the soils with a shovel to avoid tearing the bottom of the bag.
If you don’t want something this big but like this concept of a large container/small raised bed, here are smaller options that you can try.
8. Potato Planter Bags (Check Price on Amazon)
For gardeners who want to grow potatoes but don’t like the thought of digging through the ground to plant and harvest, this may be a cool and unique option to try! Plant seed potatoes towards the bottom of the planter and add compost or potting mix as the plant grows up. At harvest time, open the handy flap on the bottom side and easily access all the potatoes! The bag also has handles so it can easily be placed in the desired spot in the garden.
These potato planter bags come with their own directions for planting and seem to be quite popular with great reviews!
9. Herb Planters
I know many folks out there are herb fanatics and many also are into aesthetics with those “Pinterest” style ideas to share with friends! Many cool looking options are out there for herb planters and some of the most popular are listed below. These are great for growing herbs, are easy to water with their own drainage tray underneath, and can be moved to any shady or sunny part of the garden depending on the needs of plants.
Virtually any container can be utilized and any plant can be planted using container gardening. Container gardening is a place where gardening becomes fun and creativity can shine. It may take some planning, but container gardening can maximize garden space by allowing gardeners to use every inch possible to grow plants of all kinds!
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Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:11-13