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. Gaillardia Goblin, Blanket Flower

    'Goblin' Gaillardia has daisy-like blooms with scarlet petals and fringed yellow tips. Very resistant to heat, humidity, and drought, 'Goblin' blooms all summer delivering continuous...

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    Goblin Gaillardia Goblin Blanket Flower Gaillardia Goblin
    $9.98 Sale $4.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goblin' Gaillardia has daisy-like blooms with scarlet petals and fringed yellow tips. Very resistant to heat, humidity, and drought, 'Goblin' blooms all summer delivering continuous, vibrant color. Highly attractive to pollinators. (Gaillardia)
    Learn More
  2. Dwarf English Lavender Thumbelina Leigh, Lavandula angustifolia

    ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ is a compact English lavender that is highly aromatic and perfect for smaller spaces such as containers, rock gardens or the edge of narrow pathways. Drought a...

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    Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender Thumbelina Leigh English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia Thumbelina Leigh
    $11.98 Sale $5.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ is a compact English lavender that is highly aromatic and perfect for smaller spaces such as containers, rock gardens or the edge of narrow pathways. Drought and deer resistant, the plump lavender blooms will appear twice during the growing season if kept trimmed. Sunny, poor soils. (Lavandula angustifolia)
    Learn More
  3. Campanula Rapido White, Rapido White Bellflower

    Bellflower Rapido White has a profusion of white, open-bell shaped flowers that cover this compact plant from late spring all through summer. This bellfower is an improvement from t...

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    Rapido White Bellflower Rapido White Bellflower Campanula carpatica Rapido White
    $9.98 Sale $4.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Bellflower Rapido White has a profusion of white, open-bell shaped flowers that cover this compact plant from late spring all through summer. This bellfower is an improvement from the older "Clips" series, with flowers appearing up to four weeks earlier. Border your paths and walkways for a charming cottage look. Rapido White is perfect for small garden spaces or containers to spruce up your patio. (Campanula carpatica)
    Learn More
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