Containers Make Gardening Easier

Tips on how to plan and start a container garden.

Multiple containers

CAPTIVATING GARDEN: As seen at left, placing multiple containers with a variety of plantings in a garden area adds color and interest.

Doris Myrle Morris

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If planting below ground level is difficult for you, or if you don’t like fighting weeds, consider gardening in containers.

My first attempt at container gardening was successful. The plants grew larger and fuller than those in the beds. They were more robust, they set more blooms, and because the containers were set near the house and sheltered from the wind, the plants and blooms suffered little damage.


Getting started

If possible, plan your container garden where it will be visible from a window inside your home so you can enjoy the view every time you pass by. Also keep in mind that you’ll need a water source.

To make leveling and repositioning the plant containers easier, spread landscape ground cover over the area of lawn set aside for the garden. Then cover it with wood mulch, which also lessens the chance for weeds.


Choosing containers

Large planters allow for more root growth and more combinations of plants. Resin pots work well and hold up well for years, while clay pots tend to wick away moisture and require more frequent watering. Wooden half-barrels look nice but are nearly impossible to move or turn once they have plants planted for the season.

Medium and large containers can be moved or turned throughout the season for better plant growth. Window box containers can be spaced around the perimeter of a container garden for differing height and beauty. Using several different types and sizes of containers adds interest to the garden.

Baskets hung on shepherd’s hooks are also a nice choice. Polypropylene baskets are great because the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly as it does in wire baskets. If you use hanging baskets, be sure to check them every day to see if they need to be watered. They tend to need water more often than ground containers.


Picking plants

When planting in a container, remember that you can place the plants closer together than you can in garden beds. Full-sun annual plants, which require at least six hours of sunlight each day, work well in containers.

Experiment with plant combinations. According to experts, a well-balanced container should include a combination of thrillers, fillers and spillers.

A few good thrillers – or focal plants – for a container planting include green or burgundy spikes, medium-tall ornamental grasses, red or pink dragon wing begonias, agastache plants and blue salvia Evolutions. These types of thrillers are necessary to give the planting height.

Great fillers include dwarf snapdragons, short dahlias, fibrous begonias, gazanias, ornamental peppers, angelonias, profusion zinnias and sweet alyssums. Begin with colors that appeal to you and go from there. The possibilities and color combinations are endless. Don’t be afraid to try new and different things.

A wonderful spiller – or trailer – to use in a container planting is dichondra Silver Falls. By mid- to late summer, cascades of silver-green foliage flow down the sides of the containers or hanging baskets. Other good choices include vining helichrysum, limelight or dark-green sweet potato vine and English ivy.



Container gardening doesn’t limit you to planting only flowers. Patio tomatoes, various peppers, bush cucumbers and herbs thrive in containers.