Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Annuals

Getting Started with Container Gardening

by National Gardening Association Editors

Why would you choose to grow plants in containers, instead of planting them right in the garden? Let's look at some of the benefits of container gardening.

  • You can choose decorative containers, adding to your plants' appeal. Mix containers to suit your whim; match them to your decorating style.
  • Growing in containers can help you make the most of a limited amount of space. Window ledges and front stoops become mini gardens.
  • Containers are portable. Rearrange the design as you wish, or move plants to a sheltered location during harsh weather.
  • You can incorporate plants into your living areas. Locate containers near seating areas or windows, where they can be enjoyed to the fullest. Place herbs and fragrant flowers in raised planters near walkways, so you can enjoy their scents as you pass by.
  • You can cater to the needs of individual plants. Place sun-loving tomatoes in containers on your south-facing deck; use acidic soil in your azalea planter.
  • You can grow plants that aren't hardy in your region. Overwinter marginally hardy plants in a sheltered spot; bring tender plants indoors for the winter.

Many plants adapt well to growing in containers, and some actually do better in containers than they do planted right in the garden. For example, in climates with cool summers, heat-loving plants like eggplants and peppers thrive in containers because the container and soil are warmed by the sun.

While many annuals, perennials, shrubs, and even small trees will grow in containers, it's important to match the plant with the proper container. You'll also need to consider the challenges of your climate, and how much time you can devote to caring for your plantings.

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