A lot of us don’t have a green thumb but still desire to have a backyard full of plants and flowers.  If that’s the case, container gardening might be for you.  about.com says while not easy, container gardening is “part art, part science, part magic.”  It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  The advantages of a container is you can grow almost anything, that is, if you have the right size pot, the right plant, and good quality potting soil.  The real challenge is keeping your plants/flowers thriving over time.  So, about.com gives some tips on successful container gardening.  

Check the Sunlight

Before starting container gardening, you must check to see how much sunlight your yard gets combined with the amount of sun the desired plants/flowers you want to plant require.  Before buying any plants, start with the container and place it where you want and then time how long the sun hits it directly over the course of a day.  It won’t be completely accurate since the sun moves over the course of a season, but at least you’ll have some idea.  The challenge is selecting a plant that matches how much sun your pot will get.

Make Sure You Have Proper Drainage

about.com says, “adequate drainage can be a matter of life and death for your plants. When there isn't a big enough hole or holes for water to get out of your pot, your soil becomes too wet and the roots of your plants can rot which causes the plant to die.”

Unfortunately, many garden pots aren’t designed with enough drainage.  Either buy one with enough drainage or you can increase drainage yourself by “drilling, punching, or carving bigger holes.”

about.com says to not buy the myth that adding gravel, pot shards, or stones to your container garden will increase drainage.  In most cases, you will need a lot of holes in your pots.


Make Sure to Feed Your Plants  

Potting soil may seem like enough, but it has no nutrients.  about.com says you’ll need to add fertilizer to your soil in order for plants to thrive.  Using a liquid fertilizer every 1-2 weeks is also helpful. 


Research the Type of Plants You Want Before Going Shopping

There are so many choices, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when shopping for container plants.  So it’s best to make a list before going shopping.  about.com says you don’t even need a list with the exact plants.  Just a list with the number of pots and the size will be helpful so you can choose plants that’ll fit properly.  You might also want to make a note if the pots will be in the shade or sunlight.  


Find Good Neighbors for Your Plants

Not all plants get along.  So when choosing multiple plants to put in a container, make sure they all require the same amount of light and moisture.  If you don’t, some will not thrive.  Plants should have a tag giving you this information.  If not, ask a salesperson or look it up online. 


Saving Plant Tags

Speaking of plant tags, it’s important you save them.  The tag lets you know how big your plant will get along with how much light, water, and food it needs.  The tag will also tell you if your plant is annual or perennial.  


All Plants Eventually Die

No matter how hard you try to keep plants alive, they eventually will die.  But when do you give up on them?  In container gardens, it’s a little easier to give up on plants since you want to keep your container looking nice.  

When a plant starts looking limp, about.com says you can either cut it back and hope for the best or pull the plant out and replace it with another one.  Another option is re-potting the plant to see if that helps. 



Container gardening isn’t easy and can be expensive.  It’s best to pick gardens that work with your lifestyle.  For example, if you don’t like to water, find plants that are drought resistant.