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How to Start a Container Garden

How to start a container gardenWant to Learn Container Gardening?

Now that we are hopefully out of the woods in terms of snow and freezing temperatures it’s time to start thinking about planting flowers. If you are wondering how to start small container gardening, it’s a lot like decorating your home.  There are several things you need to consider:

  • Consider are your needs?  Are you trying to screen out an undesirable view?
  • What type of pot do you want to use?
  • Are there favorite colors you want to incorporate?
  • What color and style is your house?
  • Consider mixing in different types of textures.
  • Plant in odd numbers.  Use three, five, or seven types of plants per pot.
  • Mix heights of plants.
  • Just as you would have a focal point in your home, use the same approach in your yard.  Have one large pot or group pots in arrangements to add more interest.  You could even add other accessories to your grouping such as a stone sculpture.
container gardening

One of Miki’s pots by her beautiful pool

I consulted my friend and Master Gardener, Miki who has spent many hours learning about horticulture through the Johnson County K-State Research and Extension program.  They only accept 30 people per year and require  students to perform 40 hours of community service every year .  Miki volunteers at the Arboretum which has container gardens on display from various groups until this Sunday, May 19.  The tips in this post come from information she learned through the extension program.

Container gardening

Arboretum Container Garden

Container Gardening Tips

According to Miki, a common mistake people make is using too small of a pot.  The soil drys up quickly from the sun and wind and requires more watering. All pots need drainage holes.  You can use a coffee filter or newspaper to prevent potting mix from falling out.  Use a professional potting mix which can be found at places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or a gardening center.

Also be sure to fertilize your soil 1 to 3 times per summer with Miracle Gro or some other type of fertilizer.  This is a step I normally skip, but I mainly plant succulents because they require less watering. You can read about my love for succulents here.   When selecting a pot there are pros and cons for different styles of pots.

Pots for Container Gardening

  • Terra-cotta pros– classic, attractive, affordable, beautiful patina with age
    cons– heavy, fragile, porous (needs extra watering), cracks in winter
  • Plastic pros– lightweight, durable, affordable
    cons– less attractive, blows over in wind
  • Ceramic pros– attractive, many colors
    cons– fragile, costly, often no drainage
  • Wood pros– affordable, can build yourself
    cons– decays, not as attractive
  • Fiberglass pros– lightweight, mimics natural materials
    cons– costly
  • Hypertufa pros– popular look, can make yourself
    cons– heavy, cracks in winter

color wheel


When you are choosing colors of flowers take into consideration the colors in your home.  If you can see the flowers from inside your home, you may want to choose similar tones so that it flows.  Generally, choose two main colors and one accent for container gardening.

  • Harmonious– different shades of one color or hues next to each other on the color wheel
  • Contrasting– colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel
  • Warm– colors such as red, orange and yellow which add drama. (these are the colors I mainly use) Orange is a popular color this year.
  • Cool– colors such as blue and purple and pastels which are more relaxing
  • Silver– foliage harmonizes with all colors and tones down hot colors while enhancing cool ones
  • White – white flowers show up better at night

Miki had so much great information to share that I thought it would be best to do so in two separate posts.  In part two of How To Start a Container Garden,  I will cover the process of selecting and planting your flowers and plants.

Need compost for your garden? Here are ten things you can compost.

For more recipes and entertainment ideas, go to Dawn Pasco’s blog, Joyful Scribblings

Dawn Pasco

Dawn Pasco is a lifestyle blogger and stay at home mom to two teenagers and a miniature schnauzer. Dawn is constantly evolving and on a mission to find joy in the everyday. She shares her favorite finds, recipes, entertaining ideas, projects and stories that make her smile at Joyful Scribblings. Instagram: joyfulscribblings

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