Discover 5 easy container gardening tips for beginners to help you start growing beautiful plants in pots. Perfect for small spaces and new gardeners! And if you are looking for a pretty container garden recipe, check out my idea at the end of this post!

When you lack garden space or want to add some color and interest to an outdoor living space, container gardens are the way to go. They are a great way to get started with gardening in a very manageable way. Plus, they are easy to design, fun to do, and you can change them out seasonally to decorate outdoor living spaces.

Follow these container gardening tips for beginner success!

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A lush garden featuring various potted plants arranged in front of a stone wall. The plants include large leafy greens, blooming pink and purple flowers, and leafy shrubs. Vibrant greenery and a carved wooden post are visible in the background.

Benefits of Container Gardening

Container gardening allows you to create a garden in any space, whether it’s a balcony, patio, or windowsill. It’s perfect for beginners as it requires less maintenance than traditional gardening and allows for easy mobility of plants.

5 Simple Container Gardening Tips for Beginners

Container gardening is an excellent way to bring color and interest to any outdoor space, allowing you to grow plants that might not thrive in your garden’s current conditions. I often use container gardens as temporary homes for plants when I’m unsure of their permanent spot.

Even with extensive gardens, I add outdoor planters for seasonal color and visual appeal. They enhance outdoor living spaces and elevate garden design. If you’re new to container gardening, follow these simple tips for success and learn the basics of design and care.

Container Gardening Tip #1 – Start with Smaller Plants

Starting with smaller plants is a great way to ease into container gardening. Smaller plants are easier to manage, cost less, and grow quickly, giving you a sense of accomplishment. Some excellent small plants for containers include herbs like basil and mint, and flowering annuals like marigolds, begonias, and petunias.

A terracotta pot filled with a variety of colorful potted flowers, including bacopa, and trailing green foliage sits on a bed of small gray stones. The background features a garden with shrubs and other greenery, as well as a stone wall.
Shade garden container filled with bacopa, begonias, sweet potato vine and calibrachoa

Container Gardening Tip #2 – Grow Multiple Varieties in One Container

Growing multiple varieties of plants in one container allows you to experiment with different plant combinations. Look for different-sized flowers and foliage as well as complimentary colors and textures.

But be sure to read the labels for all plants to ensure plants that will be grouped together in the same pot have the same light and watering requirements.

Popular plant combinations for containers include herbs like rosemary and thyme or flowers like geraniums and lobelia.

Container Gardening Tip #3 – Choose Plants That Are Suitable for Containers

Not all plants are suitable for container gardening. Select plants that are known to thrive in confined spaces. These plants have compact root systems and can flourish in containers.

When choosing plants for containers, there are several things to consider. First, choose plants that will thrive in your climate. Before shopping for plants, evaluate the light conditions where you want to maintain each container garden.

Are they in full sun, partial or full shade?

If you live in a hot area, try selecting easy flowers that require less water and day-to-day maintenance. But most importantly, seek out plants that do well in containers. And several of them do.

Look for dwarf or more compact varieties of plants to ensure they will thrive in pots. Read the plant tags and descriptions for this kind of language. And if you aren’t sure while shopping, ask the garden nursery staff for assistance or your local cooperative extension service for ideas.

Happy gardening with dark horse wiegela, peonies and container gardening

Container Gardening Tip #4 – Water Regularly

It’s important to keep your plants watered regularly, particularly during the hot summer months as they dry out much easier. A good rule of thumb to determine whether your plants need to be watered is to use the cake batter test.

Stick your finger into the soil and if it feel dry about an inch or two down, it’s time to water. If its still pretty wait, hold off on watering and check back.

The reason you want to keep an eye on watering is because container plants retain moisture similar to a sponge. So plant roots can get waterlogged if they are watered too often and don’t have a chance to dry out between waterings.

Container Gardening Tip #5 – Add Fertilizer

If you’re new to growing plants in containers, plants need to be fertilized because nutrients wash out of the soil every time you water. To feed flowers or houseplants, I recommend using a slow-release fertilizer so it’s a set-and-forget approach. However, if you are growing herbs or vegetables in containers, I recommend using an organic fertilizer.

And if you are growing shrub or perennials in pots? I suggest adding lots of soil amendments with your potting soil such as compost and leaf mold to feed plants. Add a well-balanced fertilizer in early spring to get them off to a great start in the season.

Additional Tips for Success

To maximize the success of your container gardening efforts, it’s important to pay attention to a few key aspects that can make a significant difference. Choosing the right soil mix, managing pests and diseases, and adjusting your care routine based on the season are all crucial factors. These additional tips will help you create a thriving container garden that brings beauty and joy throughout the year.

Using the Right Soil Mix

A good quality potting mix is essential for container gardening. It should be light, well-draining, and rich in nutrients. Avoid using garden soil as it can be too dense for containers.

Managing Pests and Diseases

Keep an eye out for pests and diseases, which can spread quickly in container gardens. Use organic pest control methods and ensure proper air circulation around your plants.

I wrote a whole article about organic ways to manage your flower gardens that will help you learn how to naturally grow flowers and plants without the use of harsh chemicals.

Seasonal Care Tips

Adjust your container gardening practices according to the seasons. In summer, provide extra shade and water to prevent overheating. In winter, move containers to sheltered areas to protect plants from frost.

Easy Container Garden Recipes for Beginners

This section will provide beginner-friendly container garden recipes that incorporate easy-to-grow flowers. Each design will include plant combinations that thrive together, ensuring a beautiful and low-maintenance garden for any outdoor space.

Pink flowers is the color of the year for me in the garden this year. In some seasons, it’s purple flowers and others, its yellows. But this year, I’m all about pink in my container gardens.

Maybe it’s because we have expansive green fencing that surrounds the gardens. Or maybe it’s because those pink flowers and foliage were speaking to me at the garden nursery this spring.

Whatever the reason, my gardens are getting pretty in pink this year with some gorgeous containers filled with annuals and foliage. And while my containers have some different mixes of plants, the recipes are somewhat the same.

So if you are feeling the pinks with me too, you will love these plant combinations.

Wait until you see these gorgeous pink flowers and foliage ideas!

A wooden barrel planter filled with vibrant pink and white flowers is placed on a pebble area next to a grassy lawn. The background features a garden bed with various plants and a green fence, exemplifying container gardening tips for beginners. The scene appears to be outdoors on a slightly overcast day. Flowers include geraniums, canna lily, bacopa, petunia, euphorbia

Whiskey Barrel Planter Idea

Oh how I love these whiskey barrel planters! I bought them last year and they look so rustic and beautiful, don’t they? These planters are very heavy and were not easy to move from our old house to our new home.

But we did it and I am keeping them in the same general area outside of my garden garages and the new cottage garden. Because these planters are so big and needed a lot of soil, I lightened them up to save money using this spring gardening hack.

To cut down on the cost of potting soil, I filled the bottom 1/5 with plastic nursery pots that I crushed down. Then layered the top with good quality potting soil. You mustn’t overfill the bottom with pots because there needs to be enough soil in the container for plants to grow their roots down into the soil.

close up of annuals in a planter that include coleus, geraniums, bacopa, euphorbia and canna lillies.

Plant Selection For My Whiskey Barrel Planters

  • Canna Lilly
  • Pink Geraniums
  • Bacopa
  • Euphorbia
  • Supertunia ‘Latte’
  • Coleus

Step-by-Step Directions For This Container Garden Design

I have three whiskey barrels to pot up in total and placed them along the driveway. They are each planted the same to maintain continuity with color, bloom, and texture.

Using the thriller, filler, spiller method of container gardening design, I started with the canna lilly, and planted it in the center of the barrel. Canna lillies grow pretty tall, so they make great thriller plants for container gardens.

Next, I added three of each: pink geraniums, coleus, and euphorbia plants immediately around the canna lilly as filler plants. When both grow during the season, they will hide the base of the canna and weave amongst themselves making a striking combination.

Then I added three bacopas and three supertunia plants to spill over the sides of the whiskey barrels to soften the hard lines of the rim.

To keep my planters blooming all season long, I added a slow-release fertilizer, set them up on drip irrigation, and the season will do the rest for me!

close up of superwave petunia latte and coleus

Container Gardening for Beginners FAQ

How often should I water my container plants?

Water your container plants when the top inch of soil feels dry. Containers dry out faster than garden beds, so regular monitoring is essential. Every garden, every climate, and every season will be different, so it’s a great idea to feel the soil and check for dryness to learn your garden’s moisture needs.

What are the best containers to use?

Choose containers with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Materials like terracotta, plastic, and wood are popular choices. For more about choosing the right planter for your garden, read this post.

Can I grow vegetables in containers?

Yes, many vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce thrive in containers. Choose dwarf or compact varieties and ensure they receive enough sunlight and water.

What type of soil should I use for container gardening?

Use a high-quality potting mix that is well-draining and rich in nutrients. Avoid using garden soil, as it can be too dense for containers.

How can I prevent pests in my container garden?

Regularly inspect your plants for pests. Use organic pest control methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap and ensure proper air circulation.

Can I leave my containers outside during winter?

Some containers and plants can withstand winter conditions, but it really depends on what plants you are growing and the type of pot you are using. Terra cotta and clay planters must be protected or brought indoors to prevent winter damage.

Tender perennials, annuals and houseplants will not survive outdoors in harsh winters. Read the plant tags and descriptions for each plant you grow so you know whether they can survive in your hardiness zone.

How do I choose the right plants for container gardening?

Select plants that are suitable for containers and have similar light and water requirements. Popular choices include flowering annuals, herbs, succulents, and compact vegetables.

close up of coleus, pink geraniums and superwave petunia latte

It Helps to Have a Potting Bench

A potting bench is a valuable addition to any gardener’s toolkit, especially for container gardening. It provides a dedicated space for potting plants, mixing soil, and organizing gardening tools. A potting bench helps keep your workspace tidy and makes gardening more efficient and enjoyable.

Whether you’re planting new containers or maintaining existing ones, having a designated area can streamline your gardening tasks and enhance your overall experience. For beginners, this can be an especially helpful tool in creating a successful container garden.

There are so many wonderful options you can buy that will accommodate any garden space or budget. I found some pretty yet functional garden workspaces. And if you aren’t that big into gardening but love the aesthetic, they would even make great decor for a porch or patio.

Click here to shop for potting benches.

potting table with terracotta pots and plants

Final Thoughts

Container gardening is a great way to bring greenery and blooms to any outdoor living space. By starting with manageable plants, combining compatible varieties, selecting suitable plants, watering regularly, and using the right fertilizer, you can create a thriving container garden that will require minimal work from you during the growing season.

Remember to utilize tools like a potting bench for added convenience and efficiency while potting up your planters. With these tips, you’re well on your way to enjoying the beauty and benefits of container gardening.

What are your favorite ways to pot up your flowers for the season? Share your tips and transtormations in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter for more gardening inspiration and planting ideas!

And if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. For more information about container gardening, please read this article from Penn State Cooperative Extension.

To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

Thank you for visiting the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xo

Stacy Ling bricksnblooms logo

Shop For Planters Here

And if you are looking for new planters to pot up? Check out these pretty planters that I found!

close up of spring annuals superwave petunia latte, pink geraniums and coleus
close up of front porch garden with container garden of pansies and hosta - 5 easy container gardening tips for newbies
Gorgeous container garden with ranunculas and pansies in front of flowering crabapple trees in spring with lenten rose -Gardening 101: Container gardening basics for beginners
container garden idea in a vintage urn planter with superwave petunias, bacopa, sweet potato vine, banana plant and eupohorbia
Closeup of sun loving container idea with petuniasOutdoor Planter ideas for sun
Container Garden Idea for Spring
mixed container garden with geraniums, sweet potato vine, coleu, bubble gum pink superwave petunias and bacopa in front of stone wall on bed of river rocks next to astilbe plant.
Nursery Trip with Shana inspecting the plants and reading the labels


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  1. I’m loving all your tips here Stacy. Wine barrels are my favorite containers for my outdoor plants and flowers.