Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden

Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden

Deciding to start container gardening was the first step. Now, onto the second step. Choosing containers and plants for your container garden is the fun part. There is so much to choose from when it comes to both containers and plants. Size of the container, style of the container and height. 

For the plants, you want to figure out what you like and your family likes. Planting things nobody will eat is foolish, so choose wisely. Make wise choices when choosing containers and plants for your container garden. Let’s dig into this more. 

Choosing Containers for Your Container Garden

Choosing the right container for a particular type of plant is critical to its success. If you choose the wrong size pot, it could seriously stunt the growth of the plant. You need to choose the right size of pot, but it’s almost as important to choose a container that’s made of the right material. Different materials will work better in different situations.

Wooden Containers

wooden container garden

If you’re planning to grow a perennial plant, like a large herb bush, you might want to choose a large wooden container. Wood is especially attractive for use in growing plants that will continue growing for more than one season, and plants that you intend to grow outdoors in a conspicuous location.

While wooden containers are best for larger plants, and for use in highly visible areas of your yard. Wooden pots are generally one of the most expensive types of containers. Most wooden pots may be expensive, but they’re generally extremely durable.

Be sure to get one that’s treated on the outside, but not on the inside. If you get a pot that’s treated on the inside, you might end up with dangerous chemicals being leeched into the soil and making their way into your plants. This can damage the plants, and potentially make you sick if you eat them.

Plastic Containers

plastic containers

Containers and pots made of plastic are probably the most widely used type of pot for container gardening. This is largely due to the fact that plastic pots are generally the cheapest. But cheaper isn’t always better.

If you only plan to attempt container gardening for one year, then plastic may be a very good option for you. But if you think you might want to have a container garden next year, you might want to stick with something a bit more durable.

You could be tempted to think certain plastic pots are durable because they’re harder or thicker than other plastic pots, but that’s not necessarily true. If plastic is left outdoors in the elements for too long, it can start to warp and crack. Cracked pots are of little use for anything!

Clay and Ceramic Pots

terracotta or clay

Terra cotta clay pots are the second most economical type of container. They’re pretty cheap, but they are very delicate and do break quite easily. They also don’t stand up very well to freezing temperatures, so you shouldn’t leave them out during the winter.

Fired ceramic pots are a pretty good choice. They can be a bit delicate, but many of them are pretty durable. They’re usually glazed on the outside for appearance, but are left unglazed on the inside. This is good since the glaze can damage plants if it leeches into the soil.

Try Upcycling Containers when Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden

upcycled / recycled containers

You can also make your own containers by using things you find around the house. Most cheap plastic containers can work if they’re large enough for whatever you want to grow, as long as you cut drainage holes in the bottom.

Some good examples you can try are milk jugs and soda bottles with the tops cut off and holes cut in the bottom, empty margarine tubs, trash cans with holes cut in the bottom, and large plastic tubs with drainage holes drilled.

Some people even use bags of soil as their containers, simply cutting a hole in the side of a bag of soil that’s lying on its side and sowing seeds directly into the exposed soil! You don’t have to use standard purchased containers. Almost any container can be used for growing plants as long as it is safe and allows the plants adequate drainage.

Choosing Plants for Your Container Garden

Most people choose to grow edible plants in their container gardens because they don’t think of flowers or houseplants as being the same thing as container gardening. While it is the same basic principle, it’s not generally classified the same way.

Most people just think the term container gardening refers to growing edible plants, so that’s what we’ll focus on here. You can grow many types of vegetables and herbs in containers and a few types of fruit.


Growing Herbs 

Herbs are the most commonly grown edible plant for containers. Many varieties of herbs do well in containers. Parsley is perhaps the most popular herb for container growing. Basil and chives are also extremely popular for growing in containers. Cilantro can be grown successfully in containers.

In fact, almost all herbs can be grown successfully in containers. The key is finding a large enough container. Some herbs can easily be grown in relatively small containers. Chives, parsley, and basil can all grow in smaller pots.

But some plants grow a bit larger. Sage, for example, is a bush. It needs a pretty big pot. Oregano also grows rather large, and needs a large container. 



Growing vegetables come in second. Things like carrots, potatoes, beans, and peas all make for fun growing and perfect for containers. Although technically a fruit, tomatoes are probably the most popular “vegetable” for home gardeners in general.

Container gardeners are no exception, and they plant tomatoes in droves. It’s probably due mostly to the fact that good tomatoes can be very difficult to find. The tomatoes in most grocery stores are picked green and artificially ripened so they survive shipping without bruising and last longer on the shelves.

Most tomato varieties can be grown very well in containers, especially cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and small salad tomatoes. Other plants that are commonly grown in containers include lettuce and other salad greens, cucumbers, squashes, many types of beans and peas, radishes, carrots, scallions, all types of peppers, and even corn and potatoes.

Starting Vegetables from Seeds


Most vegetables can be grown in containers if you use the proper procedure. You can easily grow most of your plants from seeds. If you’re growing plants indoors, you can sow directly into the pot if you like, but you can risk damaging delicate seedlings during thinning.

You should probably grow most of your plants from seedlings that you purchase locally, but you can also start your own seedlings indoors in smaller pots, and then transplant them into larger pots later. It’s easier to start plants from seedlings when you can, but you may find a lot of satisfaction in starting your own.

dwarf citrus tree


While fruit isn’t grown in containers as often – probably because a lot of people think it would be too difficult to grow fruit in containers. You can grow fruit in containers if you know what kind grows best. 

Strawberries are one fruit that grows particularly well in many types of containers. Strawberries are generally quite hardy, and can even be grown in special grow bags that can be hung on a wall outdoors.

Dwarf fruit trees can often be grown in large pots. Many smaller dwarf citrus trees grow nicely in pots, and if kept well-pruned they can make beautiful indoor decorations. Many types of dwarf berry bushes will grow in containers, although they are usually very heavy and can’t be moved easily. Dwarf varieties of blueberries and raspberries have been successfully grown in containers.

Reasons to use Container or Raised Bed Gardens

Container gardening just like raised bed gardening,  has so many benefits. It’s hard to believe more people aren’t doing it. Although it has become more popular over the past couple of decades, it still isn’t as popular as many other methods.

raised beds

Benefits of Container and Raised Bed Gardening

One of the biggest benefits of growing your plants in containers is the fact that it makes gardening accessible to almost anyone. Handicapped individuals find growing their plants in containers makes it easier to locate plants where they can easily reach them.

Many people in wheelchairs like to place their pots on a low table to make them more accessible. Elderly people who can’t work traditional gardens may find container gardening to be an excellent way to once again enjoy their favorite hobby.

Even children find container gardening to be much easier than traditional gardening, because they don’t have to weed and rake and hoe, and they don’t have to have an adult till soil for them.
Another major benefit of container gardening is the ability to move plants if you need to.

Container Gardening is Handy

If you’re growing your plants outdoors and bad weather comes, you can bring your plants inside where they’ll be safe. If you plan your garden poorly and your plants are getting too little sun or too much, you can easily move their containers to a better location. And you can even move your plants on a whim if you decide they’d look better elsewhere. Using containers for your gardening makes it handy to move them when needed.

When choosing containers and plants for your container garden keep in mind how heavy things might be. To heavy and they won’t be easily moveable. To light, and they might blow over outside in a strong wind.

Healthier Plants

Plants grown in containers don’t have the same issues with diseases that traditionally-grown plants have. Although some container-grown plants do get diseases, it is far less likely than it would be if those plants were grown directly in the soil. Potting soil is generally free of disease-causing organisms, so your plants will be safer.

Keeping your plants well-fed is also easier when they’re grown in containers. It’s much easier to ensure the fertilizer you use gets to your plants if they’re confined to a small area of soil. When you fertilize plants that are growing directly in the soil, the fertilizer may drain away or be absorbed by other nearby plants. This is not as likely when plants are grown in containers.

Of course, when the soil area is relatively small, there is a chance the fertilizer can be washed out of the soil faster. Because of this, you do often need to fertilize more often than you would a traditional garden.

But you can be sure that your plants are probably getting more of the fertilizer before it does wash away than they would probably get if they were in the ground. When you grow your plants in containers, you’ll also be able to extend their growing season.

Plants Stay Warmer

Carefully insulate pots by wrapping them in blankets or other insulating materials. It keeps their soil warmer than the ground soil. You can start your plants early indoors or in a cold frame, then you can easily move them to larger pots outdoors when the time is right.

You can also use careful insulation to continue to grow plants after the first frost, and you can even bring plants indoors once it becomes too cold to keep them outside even when insulated. Saving space is another great benefit of container gardening.

When choosing containers and plants for your container garden keep in mind what ones need what temps to grow. 

windowsil garden

Tight Spaces Require Small Gardens

Many people live in apartments or in homes with very little yard space. Container gardening allows you to have a garden on a porch or patio, or even indoors. Many people have small container gardens in a sunny windowsill in their kitchen, or in a sunroom or spare bedroom.

Some people even grow plants in a closet by using a grow light! Growing plants in pots really make it easy to have a garden when you don’t have the space for a traditional one! Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden is fun no matter the space you have.

Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden Final Thoughts

Over the course of a few weeks, we are touching base on all sorts of gardening. Containers, raised beds, and herb gardening. No matter what you venture into, enjoy your gardening journey. Drop us a comment telling us what you love to garden.

Choosing Containers and Plants for Your Container Garden

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