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8 Tips to Keep Container Gardens Alive and Thriving

I don’t know about you, but potted plants are one of my favorite ways to add color and d├ęcor to my yard.  And working with Nicole from Red Granite Farm for the past couple of years has taught me a thing or two. And today I want to share what I’ve learned with you.IMG_5339

Potted Plants: 8 Tips to Keep them Alive and Thriving

1.  Containers for annuals should be at least 7 inches deep. This leaves plenty of room for the roots to grow and plenty of soil to hold moisture (so you don’t have to water as often!)

2.  Shallow containers should be reserved for succulents, hens and chicks, or moss roses. These have shallow root systems and don’t require a lot of water.  They actually like it a little dry.

(I know this looks a little sparse right now, but it sold before we could get a picture of it all filled in!)

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3.  Containers should have drainage holes.  Too much water can be as much of a problem as too little water.  If you can NOT put drainage holes in your container, use rocks (or recycled plastic or metal, like pop bottles or cans) on the bottom to give water a place to pool.


4. Don’t overcrowd your plants. The container should look sparse at first.  The plants WILL get bigger and the roots need plenty of space.  Overcrowded containers slow plant growth and dry out really quickly.IMG_4643The photo above is the end of April, when this was potted.  The photo below is from the end of June.IMG_5339

5. Use potting soil in your containers.  Potting soil is formulated to hold water and, at the same time, drain well.  If you have an extra large container, fill the bottom with something lightweight and NOT biodegradable – like the plastic pots your plants came in, cans or plastic bottles.


6. Fertilize your potted plants.  Nicole adds a slow-release fertilizer to the top layer of soil when she plants her containers.img_8044

7.  Check to see if your plants need watering by sticking your finger in the soil.  If it’s damp, they’ll be fine.  If it’s dry, water.  On hot summer days in a sunny location, some containers will need watered twice a day.

8.  Containers and baskets with a coir lining will need watered more often.


Any other tips? Or questions?  Let me know!

Would you like to comment?

  1. This posts makes me excited to get my annuals and do my container planters! Can you give me some examples of slow-release fertilizers?

    1. Yes, ma'am. Miracle Grow and Osmocote both make slow-release fertilizers (and Scotts and other brands.) A quick google search of "Slow-release fertilizers" led me into articles about nitrogen in soil and such, which I'm sure YOU know way more about than I do!