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. Radiant Glow Coral Bells Collection
Caramel Coral Bells Image Courtesy of Walter's Garden Inc

    Our Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection shines year-round with richly hued foliage, providing attractive evergreen groundcover in shaded gardens and containers. In summer, flower...

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    Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection Radiant Glow Coral Bells Collection Heuchera
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    Our Radiant Low-Grow Coral Bells Collection shines year-round with richly hued foliage, providing attractive evergreen groundcover in shaded gardens and containers. In summer, flower spikes feature dainty, bell-shaped blooms. Our Low-Grow Collections are perfect for transforming your yard from lawn to flowers, a few square feet at a time! Coral Bells are highly adaptable and deserve a place in every garden. Plant below taller perennials, as edging for a garden border, or as a no-mow lawn alternative. Collection of 4 or 12 plants.
  2. Purple Dream Asiatic Lily

    ‘Purple Dream’ Asiatic Lily looks like a rare exotic flower, with the perk of being reliable and easy to grow. The center of each upward-facing violet-pink blossom is dee...

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    Purple Dream Asiatic Lily Purple Dream Asiatic Lily Lilium asiatic Purple Dream
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    ‘Purple Dream’ Asiatic Lily looks like a rare exotic flower, with the perk of being reliable and easy to grow. The center of each upward-facing violet-pink blossom is deeply flecked with plum tones, and ‘Purple Dream’ produces many flowers on each sturdy stem. It’s a fabulous choice for dramatic accents sprinkled throughout garden beds, and the plentiful early summer flowers make spectacular cut flowers too! (Lilium)
  3. White Flame Dwarf Garden Phlox in container garden, Phlox paniculata White Flame

    Flame® PRO White Phlox offers all of the flower power of its bigger cousins, but in a compact, manageable size. In mid-to-late summer, pure white panicles of star-shaped blossoms to...

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    Flame® PRO White Phlox Flame® PRO White Phlox Phlox paniculata Flame® PRO White
    $9.32 Sale $7.92
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    Flame® PRO White Phlox offers all of the flower power of its bigger cousins, but in a compact, manageable size. In mid-to-late summer, pure white panicles of star-shaped blossoms top the strong 12-18” stems, attracting butterflies, bees, and moths. The deep green lanceolate foliage of White Flame PRO® provides a backdrop for this native stunner, and shows strong mildew resistance. Pure white flowers on tall stems make beautiful cut flowers, and deadheading will encourage more blooming. An excellent option for small gardens and tight spaces, or anywhere you’d like to add a bright spot in a sunny garden! (Phlox paniculata)
  4. Pink Lemonade Low Grow Plant Collection

    Add a refreshing burst of color to your sunny summer garden with our Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection. These compact, long-blooming perennials are easy to grow, and the flower...

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    Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection
    As low as $31.99 Sale $28.99
    Per Collection of 4
    Add a refreshing burst of color to your sunny summer garden with our Pink Lemonade Low-Grow Plant Collection. These compact, long-blooming perennials are easy to grow, and the flowers produce non-stop color all season to keep pollinators nourished. Our Low-Grow Collections are perfect for transforming your yard from lawn to flowers, a few square feet at a time! Plant below taller perennials, as edging for a garden border, or as a no-mow lawn alternative. Collection of 4 or 12 plants.
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