Container Gardening for Beginners

Container garden of planters on a patio

Container gardening lets you grow a variety of plants, even in a small space like a porch or patio. Mix and match planters of different sizes.

If you are a garden beginner, containers are a fantastic place to start. Container gardening is a chance to develop your green thumb in a way that allows you flexibility and a chance to start small. Whether you are a gardening novice or an old hand, planters and window boxes are a great way to grow plants. They are particularly good choices for container gardening beginners because they offer a small, less intimidating environment. Growing plants in containers is great because it offers:

1. Simplicity. All you really need is a container, some potting soil, seeds or plants. Gardening seemed incredibly daunting to me, so this is where I started, and the results have been enormously rewarding. You get to experiment by trial and error, and eventually, grow more confident in your abilities.

2. Flexibility. In window boxes, you can grow herbs or something colorful — or both! You can grow almost anything in a container garden including herbs, flowers and even trees. Plus, you can garden in any space, including small ones.

3. Affordability. Almost any container will work, though we’re fond of our planters and window boxes here on If you opt for a nontraditional do-it-yourself planter, make sure there’s adequate drainage.

4. Versatility. You can try a lot of different things all at once. Because conditions vary so much, you can use multiple containers, and utilize a variety of different plants. It’s easy to suit your personality with containers.

Fuchsia impatiens in a white window box

Even if you have no yard at all, you can grow flowers and plants in window boxes. These impatiens are an easy-to-grow flower.

Ready to begin container gardening? Here are some important tips for success:

1. Your first consideration should always be location. Think about where sunlight hits and exposure. Consider how much sunlight and shade your plants will receive. You will want to research to ensure that you pick plants suitable for your particular gardening environment. Seed packets generally include information about sun and shade tolerance, and potted plants from a nursery or hardware store often have small tags with care tips.

2. You can choose any type of container, but remember that the type you choose can dramatically switch the look of your garden. There are ornate old-world window boxes and sleek contemporary planter boxes. Most important is the fact that you have a vessel with enough space for plant roots. This is easy for baby plants, but if your plants survive for a long time, they may outgrow their containers and need an upgrade.

3. Pick easy plants to start out with. Different plants have different needs. Some are very finicky while others are more laid-back. Many new gardeners start out with a vegetable garden. Some of the easiest vegetables to begin with are peas, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, eggplant, and squash. They don’t need a lot of fussy attention. According to the University of Kentucky, easy-to-grow flowers include snapdragon, begonia, impatiens, and geranium.

4. Avoid overwatering your plants. Use containers with a lot of drainage holes. Make sure you know how much water your plants require and follow relevant guidelines, which can be found on seed packets or online.

5. Don’t worry if something goes wrong the first time. Many missteps can be fixed! If nothing else, plants can be replaced, and the dead ones can be added to a compost pile.

Whether you choose window boxes, patio planters, or an old wooden box you found in the attic, container gardening can be a rewarding hobby. Don’t worry about being a newbie — jump right in!

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