How To Recharge Soil in Containers to Keep This Year's Plantings Healthy

by Jenny

Tired soil in a container garden can be re-charged before planting.
After winter, recharge the tired soil in your container garden by using the tips below.

Container gardens really benefit from a little extra attention come springtime. In addition to last season's plants having used up many nutrients, winter rains and snow filter through pots and planters and carry away the nutrients that were left behind - leaving you with depleted soil that has little to offer. But you can recharge soil with ease. New plantings will struggle to access proper nutrients unless we gardeners intervene and 'feed' the soil!

Though you might be tempted to toss the existing soil out and start fresh, that’s not necessary. With a little love, care and almost no time, these containers will be ready for your favorite vegetables or flowering plants to shine.

Scrape away the debris on top of garden planter soil before turning in amendments.
This planter lives underneath a wintertime bird-feeding area and collects lots of seeds and shells that need to be removed each spring.

How To Recharge Soil in Containers or in a Planter

  • Start by scraping away the top-most layer of 'crusty' soil, leaves, pine needles, or whatever else your containers have collected over the off-season. Give the soil beneath a quick turn with a cultivator.
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  • If the soil level has dropped, mix in potting soil or garden mix to fill the planter back up.
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  • Turn compost or fertilizer into the existing soil to add back in some much-needed nutrients. Be sure that fertilizer, which can burn roots, is turned in deeply enough so that growing roots won't come into contact with it right away.
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  • Now comes the fun part! Choose your favorite flowering plants, vegetables and herbs to re-plant your containers for this season.
A volunteer kale plant from the main garden finds a new home in a planter with re-charged soil.
After the planter's been recharged, this volunteer kale plant gets transplanted for the short-term.

If you're planting your containers with annual varieties that don't last all season, there's no need to wait until spring to recharge your soil. You're always welcome to add compost or fertilizer to your soil in between plantings, just to make sure that good nutrients are available to all of your flowering and fruiting friends.

Recharging the soil in your planters each time you plant has benefits for both flowers and food.
You can recharge soil in your planters before each new planting - not just in spring.

Now you're ready to seed and/or plant! Looking for inspiration? Check out our lists of Container-Happy Bulbs and Container-Happy Perennials.

Edibles and flowers planted in a container garden benefit when the soil has been re-charged
Last year's container garden stayed nice and healthy after the soil was recharged in late spring.

Shop Perennials For Containers

  1. Phenomenal Lavender, Lavandula x intermedia

    Phenomenal Lavender has it all: exceptionally tolerant of both high heat and harsh winter, this easy-to-grow lavender even shows resistance to the effects of humidity. Highly fragran...

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    Phenomenal® Lavender Lavender Phenomenal® PP#24193 Lavandula x intermedia Phenomenal PP#24193
    As low as $9.99 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Phenomenal Lavender has it all: exceptionally tolerant of both high heat and harsh winter, this easy-to-grow lavender even shows resistance to the effects of humidity. Highly fragrant with concentrated essential oils, Phenomenal's spikes of purple-blue flowers attract butterflies and bees to the garden. Edible, deer-resistant and fast-growing, this silver-leafed lavender has left all other new introductions in the dust! (Lavandula x intermedia) PP#24193
  2. Berry Chiffon Tickseed, Coreopsis verticillata Berry Chiffon

    Coreopsis Berry Chiffon has delightful petals with raspberry hued centers and white edges. Developed to be disease resistant, deer resistant, and drought tolerant ensures your enjoy...

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    Berry Chiffon Coreopsis Berry Chiffon Tickseed PP#27414 Coreopsis verticillata Berry Chiffon PP#27414
    $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Coreopsis Berry Chiffon has delightful petals with raspberry hued centers and white edges. Developed to be disease resistant, deer resistant, and drought tolerant ensures your enjoyment of this prolific bloomer. No deadheading needed to help Berry Chiffon produce flowers from early summer to early fall. (Coreopsis)
  3. Gemstone Sedum Collection

    The Gemstone Sedum Collection creates a colorful tapestry of purple, yellow, blue-green foliage with vibrant pink and purple blooms mid-summer through autumn. Bees, butterflies, and ...

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    Gemstone Sedum Collection Gemstone Sedum Collection
    $39.99 Sale $29.99
    Per Collection of 4
    The Gemstone Sedum Collection creates a colorful tapestry of purple, yellow, blue-green foliage with vibrant pink and purple blooms mid-summer through autumn. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators adore the dazzling flower heads. Perfect for edging stone pathways and tucking into rock gardens, the Gemstone Sedum Collection offers an easy-to-grow solution for hot, dry sites, seaside gardens, and other challenging areas. Four plants.
  4. Prairie Blues Little Bluestem Grass, Schizachyrium scoparium

    'Prairie Blues' is an exceptional variety of native Little Bluestem Grass, selected for its vibrant color and compact growth. Fine leaf blades shine with a more intense blue color th...

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    Prairie Blues Little Bluestem Grass Prairie Blues Little Bluestem Grass Schizachyrium scoparium Prairie Blues
    As low as $11.99 Sale $10.19
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Prairie Blues' is an exceptional variety of native Little Bluestem Grass, selected for its vibrant color and compact growth. Fine leaf blades shine with a more intense blue color than most of the species, and late summer brings slender deep-purple plumes atop the foliage for an added layer of color. In autumn, small, airy, silver-white seed heads glisten in the autumn sun, against foliage that shifts to a warm bronze-orange color. Leave standing over winter to enjoy the colors and textures. An outstanding choice for both formal structured mass plantings and natural-looking landscapes. An exceptionally cold-hardy grass. (Schizachyrium scoparium)
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