Even if you’re short on space, you can have a beautiful, bountiful garden. All you need are some containers, potting soil, and your choice of flowers, foliage, or edible plants. A portable, potted container garden can thrive in sun or shade. Arrange your containers in groups on a porch, deck, or patio, or opt to hang them vertically on a space-saving trellis or tower.
Find a Site
First, decide where you want your containers. If you’re using big pots or planters, remember they’ll be heavy, so make sure the site you choose can support their weight. It’s a good idea to put them in place first and then add the soil, plants, and water.
Check for drainage holes in your containers, or drill a few holes so water won’t stand around the roots of your plants. If your pots are really deep, use a layer of gravel or pebbles in the bottom to take up some room. (This is also a good place to recycle those leftover foam packing peanuts.)
If your pots are going to stand in your yard or garden, you may want to put them on top of a few bricks or pavers to help them drain when you water. Elevating the containers will also help keep dirt from splashing on them when it rains.
Keep your containers near a hose, so you won’t have to carry a watering can. Pots filled with shade-loving plants probably won’t need to be watered as often, but sun-lovers may need a daily drink if you live in a hot or windy climate. For even easier watering, set up a drip irrigation system and connect it to an automatic timer.
Watch the Sun
Before you plant, spend a few days watching the sun. Does the spot you’ve picked out get full sun, part sun, or shade? The amount of light your containers get will determine what kind of plants will thrive there. Don’t worry if you’ve got a shady spot. You can grow lettuce, peas, arugula, and other shade-loving vegetables. For colorful flowers and foliage that don’t need a lot of sun, try coleus, impatiens, creeping Jenny, tuberous begonias, fuchsias, flowering maples, and torenia. Dwarf hydrangeas also grow beautifully in large containers in the shade.
Pick Your Plants
Almost any plants that grow in the ground can grow in a container, including dwarf trees, shrubs, herbs, vegetables, annuals, and perennials. Vines and trailing plants can be allowed to cascade over the rims, or trained on a small trellis added to the pot.Try bush beans or tomatoes, or dwarf conifers, cannas, or dahlias. For fun, grow a theme container garden. Plant peppers, tomatoes, and basil for a pizza garden; lemon balm, chamomile, and apple mint for a tea garden; or a griller’s garden with rosemary, thyme, and peppers for flavoring grilled meats or fish.