Growing Plants in Containers

annuals in containerannuals in container

Most annual flowers, perennials, herbs, and vegetables grow well in containers, as long as you choose the right pot and care for the plants properly. We'll guide you in how to choose containers, choose soil for your containers, proper planting techniques, and how to care for your container plants. 

There are many benefits to growing in containers:

  • You can grow plants wherever you want, as long as the light conditions match the plants' needs.
  • You can use your creativity in mixing and matching containers and plants.
  • You can grow plants that aren't hardy in your region, because you can move pots to a sheltered location during cold weather.
  • You can provide the optimal soil type for your plants. If your garden soil is heavy clay, you can grow plants that prefer well-drained soil, like lavender and rosemary, in pots filled with a fast-draining potting mix.
  • You can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of herbs and flowers close up, and harvest fresh produce right from your doorstep.
 

Choosing Containers

Drainage. First and foremost, make sure your container has drainage holes. If you'll be placing the container on a solid surface, make sure the drainage holes aren't blocked. If they are, try placing the planter on "pot feet," casters or on a tray of pebbles. The number one rule of container growing: Water must be able to drain freely.

Material.Water evaporates through the walls of porous containers, like those made from unglazed terra cotta and wood. That usually means you'll need to water more often than plants in nonporous pots. But the porosity can be a good thing for plants that prefer soil on the dry side, like most succulents. Nonporous pots, like those made from plastic, resin and glazed terra cotta, hold in moisture better.

Self-Watering. Self-watering pots contain a water reservoir and wicking system so water is delivered to the plants as they need it. This not only reduces the frequency with which you'll need to add water, it also provides a better growing environment for plants by providing consistent moisture.

Size. In general, small pots dry out more quickly that large pots. Those little unglazed terra cotta pots look lovely but may need watering multiple times on a hot, sunny day. Placing a nonporous plastic pot within a porous pot helps retain moisture. Very large containers, on the other hand, can retain too much water for small plants or those that prefer relatively dry soil. You'll need to check soil moisture before watering so you don't overdo it.

Choosing Soil for Your Containers

Use a high-quality potting soil in your containers. Don't use garden soil, which often drains poorly and may contain disease organisms. Remember that the plants' roots are confined to a relatively limited space so you want to give them everything they need for optimum growth.

Planting Techniques

Don't overcrowd vegetables, herbs and perennials in the containers. Consider their mature size and choose the pots accordingly. Overcrowded containers lead to root-bound plants and the poor air circulation around crowded plants can lead to diseases problems.

Set plants in the container at the same height as they were in their nursery pots. Don't leave roots exposed, and don't bury stems. Plant seeds at the recommended garden depth.

Care and Feeding

The biggest difference between plants growing in containers and those growing in the ground is that container plants will need more frequent watering and fertilizing, because the roots are confined and have limited soil from which to take up water and nutrients.

As with all garden plants, you'll need to keep an eye out for pest and disease problems, but container plants are often less prone to infestation and infection. Sitting on a deck or patio, they're isolated from garden plants, and they aren't exposed to the soil-borne pests in the garden.

Container Happy Plants

  1. Japanese Sedge Grass Everillo filling out a container planting

    EverColor 'Everillo' Sedge Grass shines with golden foliage that lights up the shade garden. Part of the popular EverColor Series, foliage emerges lime green and shifts to a sunny ye...

    Learn More
    EverColor® Everillo Sedge Grass Everillo Japanese Sedge Grass PP#21002 Carex oshimensis EverColor® Everillo PP#21002
    As low as $24.98 Sale $12.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    EverColor 'Everillo' Sedge Grass shines with golden foliage that lights up the shade garden. Part of the popular EverColor Series, foliage emerges lime green and shifts to a sunny yellow, adding vibrant texture and year-long color to the landscape. A versatile, low-maintenance groundcover or edging plant for wet or dry shade. Perfect for edging woodland pathways and shady planting beds. Add 'Everillo' to containers and window boxes for evergreen color and lush texture. Deer resistant. (Carex oshimensis)
    Learn More
  2. Coreopsis Enchanted Eve PPAF, Tickseed Enchanted Eve PPAF

    Dwarf Coreopsis Enchanted Eve is ten years in the making to become disease and deer resistant that will be a proven delight in your garden. Beautiful burgundy petals with yellow edg...

    Learn More
    Enchanted Eve Coreopsis Enchanted Eve Tickseed (Patent Pending) Coreopsis Enchanted Eve (Patent Pending)
    $15.98 Sale $7.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Dwarf Coreopsis Enchanted Eve is ten years in the making to become disease and deer resistant that will be a proven delight in your garden. Beautiful burgundy petals with yellow edges bloom from early summer until early fall with no deadheading needed! Enchanted Eve's dwarf size makes it ideal for containers, boarders and small spaces in gardens. (Coreopsis)
    Learn More
  3. KISMET® Intense Orange Echinacea, Echinacea hybrid, Photo Courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

    Intense Orange Echinacea (Coneflower) dazzles with extraordinary flower-power. Large blooms emerge pumpkin orange shifting to deep vermilion-red as they mature. If the sheer volume o...

    Learn More
    KISMET® Intense Orange Echinacea KISMET® Intense Orange Coneflower Echinacea KISMET® Intense Orange
    $23.98 Sale $11.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Intense Orange Echinacea (Coneflower) dazzles with extraordinary flower-power. Large blooms emerge pumpkin orange shifting to deep vermilion-red as they mature. If the sheer volume of blossoms doesn’t make you swoon, the vibrant color certainly will. Flowers stand on sturdy stems atop deep green mounding foliage. An excellent cut flower and lovely addition to pollinator gardens. (Echinacea hybrid)
    Learn More
  4. Carex Grass Ice Dance, Carex morrowii, Variegated Japanese Sedge

    Add bright color and texture to your shade garden with gorgeous 'Ice Dance' Sedge Grass. This ornamental grass is an evergreen, with showy white edges lining each moss-green blade. D...

    Learn More
    Ice Dance Sedge Grass Ice Dance Japanese Sedge Carex morrowii Ice Dance
    As low as $16.98 Sale $8.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    Add bright color and texture to your shade garden with gorgeous 'Ice Dance' Sedge Grass. This ornamental grass is an evergreen, with showy white edges lining each moss-green blade. Deer-resistant sedges prefer moist soil, and they can be used to edge streams, ponds, and banks. Makes a fine 'filler' for adding texture to container plantings. (Carex morrowii)
    Learn More
  5. Oriental Lily Bulbs Stargazer, Lilium

    'Stargazer' Oriental Lily is famous for its vibrant pink spotted flowers that bloom upwards, facing the cosmos. At 6-8” wide, its fragrant flowers are easy to grow on strong stalks...

    Learn More
    Stargazer Oriental Lily Bulbs Stargazer Oriental Lily Lilium orientalis Stargazer
    As low as $26.98 Sale $13.49
    'Stargazer' Oriental Lily is famous for its vibrant pink spotted flowers that bloom upwards, facing the cosmos. At 6-8” wide, its fragrant flowers are easy to grow on strong stalks that don't need staking. One of the most beloved lilies, summer-blooming 'Stargazer' adds loads of color to garden beds and borders and is popular in floral arrangements. (Lilium)
    Learn More
  6. EverColor Everest Sedge Grass Foliage Variegated with Green and White

    EverColor 'Everest' Sedge Grass has gracefully arching green foliage with clean white margins. This variegated fountain-like grass looks lovely spilling from containers, or massed as...

    Learn More
    EverColor® Everest Sedge Grass EverColor® Everest Variegated Sedge Grass PP#20,955 Carex oshimensis EverColor® Everest PP#20,955
    As low as $22.98 Sale $11.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    EverColor 'Everest' Sedge Grass has gracefully arching green foliage with clean white margins. This variegated fountain-like grass looks lovely spilling from containers, or massed as a groundcover to brighten shady beds. Part of the popular EverColor Series, 'Everest' is easy to maintain, with neat mounding evergreen foliage that provides texture and beauty all year. Use this ornamental grass to edge walkways or rain gardens, beautify a slope or bank, or plant en masse to create a lovely ground cover in sun-to-part-shade areas. (Carex oshimensis)
    Learn More
  7. Oriental Lily Bulbs Stargazer, Lilium

    Stargazer is the most famous lily of them all. This hybrid’s large, upward-facing, fragrant blooms put on a beautiful show both in the garden and in bouquets. (Lilium)...

    Learn More
    Stargazer Oriental Lily Oriental Lily Stargazer Lilium Stargazer
    $11.99 Sale $8.99
    Per Bag of 3
    Stargazer is the most famous lily of them all. This hybrid’s large, upward-facing, fragrant blooms put on a beautiful show both in the garden and in bouquets. (Lilium)
    Learn More
  8. Asiatic Lily Mix in full blooms of yellow, white, pink and red

    Plant the Asiatic Lily Bulbs Mix for a gorgeous rainbow of colorful blooms in early summer. Asiatic Lilies are extremely easy to grow and beloved in bouquets. A great choice for smal...

    Learn More
    Asiatic Lily Mix Asiatic Lily Mix Lilium Mix
    $12.65 Sale $9.49
    Per Bag of 5
    Plant the Asiatic Lily Bulbs Mix for a gorgeous rainbow of colorful blooms in early summer. Asiatic Lilies are extremely easy to grow and beloved in bouquets. A great choice for small, narrow spaces, these lilies take up very little room at ground level. Perfect for tucking in between perennials that are still filling out, use them to add extra color wherever it's needed. (Lilium)
    Learn More
© 2021 AmericanMeadows.com All rights reserved