Best Plants for Container Gardening

March 27, 2018

Best Plants for Container Gardening

Container gardening is becoming popular among homeowners and apartment/condominium dwellers for a myriad of reasons. With the most pertinent being the ability to grow plants without committing to a permanent garden area in the lawn or yard. One of the best things is that it’s possible to grow most popular plants in containers without having to make many changes. 

There are a lot of choices available when you’re looking at what kind of plants to have in your container garden. You can opt to grow only vegetables; you can choose to stick with traditional perennial or annual flowers, or you can decide to go with flowering shrubs. Even better, you can mix and match to create a garden that is full of variety and color. 

Vegetables to Grow in Containers

If you’re interested in having fresh produce for your table, there are some great choices for veggies to put in your container garden.

Tomatoes – Easily one of the most common vegetables grown in containers, tomatoes do best in locations that receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Beans – Both bush beans and pole beans will grow well in containers, providing you offer support to pole beans as they grow. Pole beans will also produce beans all season while most bush varieties “come on” all at one time.

Greens – Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale and many other green are great options for container gardening. They are super easy to grow, economical, and they go from seed to edible plant really fast.

Peppers – Coming in just behind tomatoes in popularity, peppers are another great veggie to grow in containers. Early in the season plants benefit from the warmer soil and when laden with fruit containers can be moved to protected spots to prevent brittle branches from breaking.

Radish – Use 4-6” pots to start seeds, and this quick growing vegetable can be ready to pick in as little as three weeks! Grow them in the spring or fall though as they prefer cooler temperatures.

Carrots – Surprisingly successful, growing carrots in containers requires deep planters that will accommodate the long roots. Make sure to use a light, airy potting mix to prevent misshapen vegetables.

Garlic – Many people don’t think to try growing their own garlic, but it’s really quite easy to do and a single clove of garlic can produce a lot! Start with organic garlic from the supermarket or seed garlic for the best results.

Flowers that Grow Well in Pots 

Both annuals and perennials make great specimens in container gardens. Intersperse them with your vegetable plants to attract pollinators to the space, while adding extra pops of color.

Begonias – Blooming from early summer all the way to the first frost, begonias come in over two thousand different species. They can be grown trailing over the side of the container or more upright in pots.

Impatiens – Equally as happy in containers or hanging pots, as they are planted in the ground, impatiens make a great addition to container gardens. If they start to look tall and leggy trim the top third off the group of flowers.

Zinnias – Due to their low maintenance needs, zinnias are excellent flowers to grow in containers. Let them hang out as much as possible in the sun, keep them watered well, and remove spent flowers to encourage new blooms.

Vinca – Trailing vincas make a gorgeous addition to containers, with their beautiful blooms in shades of white, apricot, pink, or rose. They grow best in partial sun but too much direct afternoon sunlight can burn the foliage. 

Shrubs to Plant in Potted Containers

Putting shrubs in containers can help to build privacy screens for your balcony or patio, or just add some height to your garden. The best shrubs to grow in containers are ones that will stay compact or have dwarf varieties to choose from.

Azaleas – These low maintenance plants are perfect for growing in containers! Azaleas are ericaceous plants that thrive in acidic soils with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0; growing them in containers allows you to easily amend the soil to the desired pH range. Their large, showy blooms prefer morning sun and dappled afternoon shade as well as temps that stay under 85°F.

Hydrangeas – Another shrub known for its gorgeous blooms, hydrangeas flourish in containers making them a great plant to decorate with. Keep them watered well, without overwatering and remove spent blossoms to encourage new blooms.

Rhododendron – Look for wide, shallow pots to grow rhododendrons in and make sure they have plenty of drainage holes. Their shallow root systems do not like to be soggy so check soil moisture levels frequently and water only when the top 1” of the soil is dry.

Cotoneaster – With dozens of species to choose from ranging in size, shape, and flower color, cotoneaster makes a handsome addition to a container garden with its dark foliage and brightly colored berries. In the fall plants transform from a lush, dark green to a brilliant scarlet.

Forsythia – Early spring landscapes get a dash of bright yellow when forsythia is planted in containers. Known to spread easily making it potentially invasive some people prefer to keep it contained in pots.

There are plenty of plants to choose from when trying to decide what to put in your container garden. Mix and match colors and varieties to create visual interest in your space and then follow basic rules of container gardening to increase your success.

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