Getting Started with Container Gardening

Now that we’ve piqued your interest, you ask: How do I get started? Do I want to get a bunch of small containers or two really big ones? Should they go in the bathroom or kitchen? Can I place pots around my regular garden? Would the pots look better on my deck or around my copper beech tree? Can I grow herbs and flowers or should I stick with one type of plant? Will someone trip over those small herb troughs near my narrow pathway or underneath my garden arbors? What complementary plant colors will look best in my sunny office?

Before you rush out to buy your needed plants, pots and tools for yourself or as a garden gift, consider the geometry of your garden.


Get out paper and pencil and jot down a few notes. Answer the above questions and any others that come to mind. Let’s say that after considering several questions you discover that you’re interested in herbs, but not necessarily in flowers. And you definitely want to grow the majority of your plants outside since you live in south Texas. However, since the summers can get too hot, you also want to be able to move your containers to a cool, shady spot of your yard or house as needed. You’ll also want to think about a niche where you can put those winter-weary tulip bulbs that are just waiting for spring.

Even if you start with just herbs, consider varying your choices slightly. If you grow parsley and thyme, cultivate potatoes or other vegetables because plants often enjoy one another’s company.

Start small. Even if you have visions of the Garden of Eden dancing in your head, you don’t want your garden to wind up looking like an unkempt graveyard. For some ideas, see our images of the most beautiful—and the oddest—gardens.

Now let’s do some real sketches of your ideal garden area.

Consider the Elements

Will your potted plants thrive best near your house or under your shady oak or sunny deck? Are your plants in a wind-and flood-safe area? Irrigation is important, too. Where’s your water faucet? Does your hose reach that particular area?

Also think about different types of groupings for your containers. Will your doorway look best framed with a set of two large potted ferns? Or do you want to encase the outside bay window with several hanging pots of red and yellow poppies? Sometimes scattered containers appeal more to the eye, but in other cases, one central plant surrounded by small herb containers looks attractive. This large central container could feature a variety of flowers such as daffodils, narcissi and violas while the smaller containers could each contain one type of plant.

If you prefer to keep your plants indoors, you might want to ensure that Toddler Joe can’t reach your poinsettia or that spilled dirt or water won’t harm grandmother’s cedar chest. Which parts of your house are warm and let in lots of sunshine? Where are the cooler, shadier rooms?

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