If you live in a home with a patio or balcony instead of a full yard, you may be thinking about starting a container garden. Maybe you’re new to gardening and want to see how it goes on a smaller scale before digging up your lawn. Planting in containers, whether you grow flowers, herbs, or vegetables, is a perfect option for small spaces and for those who are learning to garden.

Container Gardening Basics

There are a few things to know before you start container gardening. Run through the following checklist before getting started:

Proper Soil

Don’t skimp when purchasing the dirt for your new plants. Buy a rich potting soil with a compost element.

Appropriate Container Size

Even for something as simple as a kitchen herb garden, you likely don’t want any containers less than a half gallon. You need to give the plant the ability to spread out in its surroundings and take root.

Good Seeds or Starts

Don’t use expired or old seeds when planting, and if you purchase starts, choose ones that look healthy. Don’t pick plants that look spindly, weak, or insect-ridden.

Water and Drainage

You’ll need easy access to water, so purchase a small watering can for your container garden. Make sure all your containers have enough holes in the bottoms and adequate drainage so they don’t stay too moist.

Sunshine is Key for Container Gardening

Most veggies and plants require a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight every day to thrive. If you have to move your containers throughout the day, you will most likely prefer smaller, lighter pots.

The Top Five Plants for Container Gardening


When it comes to container gardening, tomatoes are a go-to favorite. Even little cherry tomatoes grow on an enormous tomato plant, so make sure you have enough depth in the pot (a minimum of 12″ is recommended), as well as stakes or tomato cages to help support the plant’s many branches.


Peppers are also a very popular and easy win for a beginner trying their hand at container gardening. Peppers grow as a sturdy bush and generally don’t need much staking.


A kitchen herb garden is a great source for fresh herbs. Make sure you have plenty of sunlight and plant popular herbs like basil, cilantro, and thyme. Nothing beats the convenience of adding freshly snipped herbs to a completed meal.


This is a blanket category for several different greens because many are ideal for container gardening. Examples are kale, spinach, chard, arugula, and all types of lettuces from romaine to red leaf. Growing greens is rewarding because you can harvest them multiple times before they go to seed.


Radishes are one of the quickest and most satisfying plants in general to cultivate, so it’s no wonder that they’d be great for container gardening as well. Seeds germinate quickly, sometimes in just a few days. Your radishes will be ready to eat about four weeks after planting.

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