Container gardening is a fantastic way to start a garden, and it’s very easy to get started. Whether you have a balcony, deck, or sidewalk, you can grow plants anywhere with containers. In this article, we’ll cover the ten steps you need to take to get started with container gardening.

1. Choose the Location

Choosing the right location for your container garden is crucial. Sunlight is vital for plant growth, so ensure the area you select receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight daily. If possible, choose an area that receives morning sunlight. Make sure there’s easy access to water in that location as well.

2. Decide What to Plant

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

Create a list of plants that pique your interest and that are suitable for container gardening. Start with plants you like to eat and try a few new things too. Check the planting guide for your area to see what you can plant now. Evaluate the space you have available, ensuring you have enough room to grow the plants you’ve selected. Learn about each plant you want to grow and whether it needs to be planted from seeds or transplants. Head to your local nursery or favorite online retailer to pick up those seeds and transplants.

3. Choose Your Container

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

Choosing the right container is crucial. The size of a plant is limited by how large the container is, and it’s essential to grow the right plant in the right size pot. Here are a few guidelines for what size pots different plants need:

  • Small plants like herbs or lettuce need pots that are 6-8 inches in diameter.
  • Medium-sized plants like peppers or tomatoes need pots that are 12-18 inches in diameter.
  • Large plants like eggplant or squash need pots that are 24-36 inches in diameter.

Make sure your containers have drainage holes to allow excess water to drain out of the container. If the container is on a hard surface, lift it up with pot feet. If it’s on soil or grass, the water will seep out easily.

4. Fill the Container with Soil

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

Regular soil is too heavy for containers and doesn’t provide roots the air and water they need to grow. Look for a quality raised bed mix or potting soil that’s light, fluffy, and drains well. The right mixture of compost, coconut core, and vermiculite or perlite provides nutrients, air, and water for the roots and gives your plants the best chance for success. Put your pots in place and fill them all the way up with soil. You don’t need to add any filler to the bottom. The more soil, nutrients, and water available to your plants, the better.

5. Add an Oya

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

If you’re going to add an oya to your container, now is the time to do it. An oya is a clay vessel that is buried underground and filled with water that gradually seeps out as needed by the roots. Ollas are a fantastic way to water containers.

6. Plant Your Seeds and Transplants

When planting your seeds and transplants, keep these three things in mind:

  • Spacing: Adequate spacing is crucial for growing plants. Plants that are too close together often crowd each other out and compete for sunlight, nutrients, and water, which can lead to pests and diseases. Use the spacing guidelines on the backs of seed packets or on your transplants as a guide to give your plants enough room.
  • Planting Transplants: When planting transplants, plant them at the same level as the nursery pot. Carefully remove the plant from the pot, dig a hole the same depth, and put it in right at the same level. An exception to this would be plants like tomatoes that are often buried much deeper, and roots will grow along the stem. In that case, plant the tomato plant deeper to encourage more root growth.
  • Planting Seeds: When planting seeds, follow the seed packet instructions for planting depth and spacing.

7. Water Your Plants

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

Water your container plants regularly, checking the soil moisture level frequently. Containers dry out faster than the ground, so check the soil moisture level daily during hot weather. Make sure to water thoroughly, so the water reaches the roots. Don’t just sprinkle the surface. To minimize water loss from evaporation, it’s best to water your container garden in the early morning or late evening.

8. Fertilize Your Plants

Plants in containers need regular fertilization to thrive. Use a liquid fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer to provide your plants with the nutrients they need. Adhere to the guidelines mentioned on the fertilizer package regarding the frequency and amount of application. Over-fertilizing can lead to burnt leaves or stunted growth, so don’t go overboard.

9. Prune Your Plants

10 Steps to Get Started with Container Gardening

Pruning your plants helps to maintain their shape and encourages healthy growth. Remove any dead or diseased leaves, and prune back any stems that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Pinch back the tops of your plants to encourage bushier growth.

10. Monitor Your Plants for Pests and Diseases

Check your plants regularly for pests and diseases. Early detection is critical for effective pest and disease management. Promptly removing any diseased leaves or plants is crucial in preventing the disease from spreading to other plants in your container garden. Use organic pest control methods like companion planting or insecticidal soap to control pests.

Lastly, maintain your container garden by monitoring for pests and diseases. Keep an eye out for any signs of infestation or plant discoloration, and take action as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Regularly remove any dead or yellowing leaves or spent blooms, as these can attract pests and disease.


In conclusion, container gardening is a great way to start your own garden and enjoy fresh produce right at home. By following these 10 steps, you can set yourself up for success and enjoy a bountiful harvest in no time.

Remember to choose a sunny location, pick the right plants, use quality soil, and water your plants properly.

With a little bit of effort and care, your container garden can thrive and provide you with a source of joy and healthy food for months to come. Happy gardening!