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How to Garden in Containers

Container Gardens

Growing flowers, herbs and vegetables in containers is an excellent way for anyone with a small space, such as a balcony, to grow their own plants.

Containers work well on deck, steps and patios by allowing you to add colour, shape and fragrance to your yard without taking up much space.

The choice of container is up to you and there are many possibilities out there. You can buy a wide variety of containers from urns to window boxes at you local plant centre or you can drop by a garage sale and find that unique planter. You may even find ways to recycle items in your attic or garage. Your personal taste and vision will guide you when it comes to choosing a container.

I once grew Johnny jump ups (Viola cornuta) in a pair of old work boots. I set them on the ledge around my balcony. They drew some attention and favourable comments.

Regardless of your final choice make sure the container is big enough to allow the plant to grow, you may eventually want to repot it but then again you may not so allow enough space for the roots to develop. Strong healthy roots make for strong and healthy plants and strong and healthy plants withstand pests and disease better than weak plants will.

Extra Care

You will find that plants in containers may need more water than plants that have their roots in the soil. My experience with containers on a balcony, that was fairly high up and subject to strong winds, showed me the soil dried out much faster than the soil in my garden, even when the garden was situated in the same amount of sunlight as the containers.

The plants had less wind protection on the balcony and the roots, unlike the roots of the plants that were planted directly into the earth, could not reach out for water but counted on me to supply it. So check your container plants regularly to see if they need water.

I have had good luck with cherry tomatoes in containers but you can grow any type of tomato as long as the container is big enough. This applies to any plant so when you buy or otherwise obtain a container for planting be sure to consider the adult size of the plant, otherwise you may need to repot sooner than you want if you wish to keep the plant alive.

When designing your container garden remember that you need to palce the plant where it will get the sunlight it need, now one of the great things about container plants is the ability to move them from one location to another.

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If you are planning to move your container plants on a regular basis then make sure you can physically do so, buy plants and container that will not be too heavy for you to move readily.

Another great feature of a container garden is that it can be raised up, set on a table, bench, chair or railing so that it is easy to reach with no need to bend over to take care of the plant.

How many containers you have and what you grow in them is up to you. Container gardening provides many people with the enjoyment of growing and caring for their own garden.


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 02, 2009:

Try salad greens if you get 4 hours.

Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 02, 2009:

I guess I could try to grow some indoors, I have one window that gets a lot more sun :)

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on May 02, 2009:

There is not much that will grow with less than three hours, especially in the evening. however, if the site gets 3 hours of direct sun thn you ight be able to grow: salad Greens, such as leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress. Maybe broccoli, cauliflower,peas, and beans


Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on May 02, 2009:

What vegetables would grow well without too much sunlight? I only get sunlight on my balcony after 5pm.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on December 08, 2007:

Thanks, outdoor gardening season here is still 6 months away but it is a year round passion.

cgull8m from North Carolina on December 08, 2007:

I don't have container plants yet, maybe in the future, this gives a good idea.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on December 08, 2007:

Bob! Another great HUB as usual.

Growing intrusive plants such as peppermint planter a also helps from them taking over and chocking all other plants out. I always have trouble with keeping the rosemary alive. I always take her inside once the weather starts to be 'nordish' and still ...

fun article and makes me miss the gardening already...

regards Zsuzsy

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