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Module 17: Starting Your First Container Garden

If you’ve always wanted to grow your own flowers, vegetables, or herbs but don’t have a lot of space or experience, container gardening is the answer.

The beauty and benefits of gardening can be brought right to your doorstep, balcony, or windowsill with container gardening. Whether you live in a rented property, have restricted outside space, or need to look at a novel, new thing, container gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby that anybody can appreciate.

We will discuss the fundamentals of container gardening and demonstrate how to begin creating your own. We’ll talk about the various container types, how to prepare the soil, what plants to plant, and how to care for your garden throughout the growing season.

So put on your gardening gloves and prepare to dive in! Let’s begin this journey with container gardening and watch as your garden grows and flourishes.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Understand the benefits of container gardening and how it differs from traditional gardening.
  • Be able to choose the appropriate pot type for different plants and understand how to add drainage holes if necessary.
  • Learn how to select high-quality soil and fertilisers for container gardening.
  • Learn how to water container gardens and understand the importance of proper drainage and frequency of watering.
  • Be able to identify and address common issues that can arise when caring for container gardens, such as pests, disease, or overwatering.

What is container gardening?

Container gardening is a type of gardening where plants are grown in containers such as pots, hanging baskets, or window boxes, rather than directly in the ground. This allows gardeners to grow plants in small spaces, such as balconies or patios, and it also provides flexibility in terms of plant placement and mobility.

Container gardening is a great way to start exploring gardening without the commitment and complexity of a large outdoor garden. It is a low-cost and low-maintenance way to experiment with growing different types of plants and can be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Some benefits of container gardening for beginner gardeners include:

  1. Accessibility: Container gardens can be placed in areas that are easy to access, making it possible for people with mobility issues to participate in gardening.
  2. Space-saving: Container gardens take up minimal space, ideal for those living in apartments or having small gardens.
  3. Control: Container gardens allow gardeners greater control over the growing environment, such as soil quality, moisture, and sunlight.
  4. Flexibility: Container gardens can be moved around for optimal growing conditions.
  5. Variety: Container gardening allows gardeners to experiment with various plants, from herbs and vegetables to flowers and succulents.

Choosing containers

When choosing pots for a container garden, it is important to consider several factors, such as the size of the container, the material it is made of, and its drainage system. Here are some pros and cons for different types of containers:

  1. Plastic containers: Plastic containers are lightweight, inexpensive, and come in various colours and styles. They are easy to clean and can be reused season after season. However, plastic containers can become brittle, crack over time, and may not be as aesthetically pleasing as other options.
  2. Clay pots: Clay pots are porous, which allows for good drainage and are attractive and decorative. However, they can be heavy, break easily, and are more expensive than plastic containers.
  3. Wooden planters: Wooden planters are a popular choice for container gardening because they are attractive and durable. They come in various sizes and styles and can be customised with paint or stain. However, they can be expensive and heavy and may rot over time.
  4. Hanging baskets: Hanging baskets are a great way to add vertical interest to a container garden, and they come in various shapes and sizes. However, they can be difficult to water properly and require frequent maintenance.

When choosing containers, it’s important to ensure that they have drainage holes to prevent water from pooling in the bottom of the pot, which can lead to root rot. It’s also important to consider the size of the pot and the needs of the plants you plan to grow, as some plants require more space than others. By considering these factors, beginner gardeners can choose the right containers for their container garden and set themselves up for success.

Soil & Fertiliser

Choosing the right soil and fertilisers is crucial for a successful container garden, as plants rely on the soil to provide nutrients and support healthy growth. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Choosing soil: Look for high-quality soil specifically formulated for container gardening, as it will be well-draining and nutrient-rich. Avoid using garden soil or topsoil, as they can be heavy and may not provide adequate drainage. It’s also important to choose appropriate soil for the type of plants you plan to grow, as some plants prefer soil with specific pH levels or nutrient requirements.
  2. Adding fertiliser: Container gardens require regular fertilising to replace nutrients lost through watering and support healthy growth. Look for slow-release fertilisers that provide a steady stream of nutrients over time, and follow the package instructions for application rates. Generally, it’s recommended to fertilise container plants once a month during the growing season.
  3. Composting: Add compost to your container garden soil to provide additional nutrients and improve soil structure. Composting can also help reduce waste and is a sustainable way to fertilise your plants.
  4. Testing soil: It’s a good idea to periodically test your container garden soil to ensure it has the right pH balance and nutrient levels. Home soil testing kits can provide valuable information to help you adjust your soil’s nutrient levels.

Choosing good quality soil and fertilisers is essential for a successful container garden. The right soil will provide adequate drainage and the necessary nutrients for your plants to thrive, while regular fertilising will keep your plants healthy and productive.

Choosing plants

Choosing the right plants is essential for a successful container garden, as not all plants are suited for growing in containers. Here are some tips to get you started:

Choosing plants:

Look for the plants that are well-suited to growing in containers:

  • Consider herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers like petunias and geraniums.
  • Avoid plants that grow too large or have deep root systems, as they may quickly become root-bound or outgrow the container.
  • It’s also important to choose plants that have similar growing requirements, such as light and water needs, as this will make it easier to care for your container garden.

Matching growing requirements:

Plants with similar growing requirements will thrive in the same container, requiring the same amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients. By matching growing requirements, you’ll be able to provide the best possible growing conditions for your plants.

  • Plants that prefer full sun, like tomatoes and peppers, can be grouped together in a sunny spot.
  • Plants that prefer shade, like lettuce and herbs, can be grouped together in a shadier spot.

Container size:

Choosing the right container size for your plants is important, as they need adequate room to grow and thrive. Small plants like herbs and lettuce can be grown in smaller containers, while larger plants like tomatoes and peppers require larger containers with more room for their roots to spread.


Consider the maintenance requirements of your chosen plants before planting them in your container garden. Some plants, like herbs and lettuce, require regular watering and may need to be fertilised more frequently, while others, like succulents, require less water and fertiliser.

In summary, choosing the right plants for your container garden is essential for a successful and rewarding growing experience. Look for plants that are well-suited to growing in containers, match growing requirements, choose the right container size, and consider the maintenance requirements of your chosen plants.


Now it’s time for you to plant up your own container garden. This step-by-step guide should make it easy to do so.

Materials required:

  • Containers (pots, hanging baskets, window boxes)
  • Soil
  • Plants, bulbs, seeds, seedlings (depending on what you plan to plant)
  • Watering can or hose
  • Fertiliser
  • Gardening gloves and tools (optional)

Step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose your container: Select a container appropriate for the plants you want to grow. Ensure it has adequate drainage holes and is the right size for your plants. You can use plastic, ceramic, clay, or recycled materials like old buckets or tires.
  2. Add soil: Fill the container with high-quality potting soil, leaving enough room at the top for your plants. Avoid using regular garden soil as it may contain weed seeds and is too heavy for container gardening.
  3. Plan your layout: Decide on the placement and spacing of your plants. Arrange your plants in a way that allows them enough room to grow and is aesthetically pleasing. You can also use different heights, colours, and textures to create visual interest.
  4. Plant your plants: Gently remove them from their containers, loosen any tangled roots, and place them in the container. Fill in gaps with additional soil and gently tamp the soil around the plants. Avoid burying the stems too deeply, leading to stem rot.


  1. Water your plants: Water your plants immediately after planting and keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Avoid getting water on the foliage, as this can promote disease.
  2. Prune and deadhead: Regularly prune your plants to remove dead or damaged leaves and promote healthy growth. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage new growth and prolong the blooming season. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to avoid damaging your plants.
  3. Fertilise: Fertilise your plants regularly with a slow-release fertiliser, following the package instructions for application rates. Alternatively, you can use organic options like compost or fish emulsion.
  4. Monitor for pests and disease: Regularly inspect your plants for pests and disease, and take appropriate measures if you notice any issues. This can include removing affected leaves or using organic pest control methods. You can also prevent pest problems by keeping your plants healthy and avoiding over-fertilisation.
  5. Rotate your container: Rotate your container every few weeks to ensure that all sides of the plants receive equal sunlight. This will also help prevent your plants from leaning towards the light source.

Coming Next

Further Reading

Updated on March 5, 2024

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