Try Container Gardening!

— Written By and last updated by
en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲
pots of flowers on railings

Add some life to an already occupied space!

Container gardening is a great option for many reasons. You can turn your front porch, back deck, sunroom, etc. into a producing garden. Container gardening allows you to create special gardens to fit any situation. Selecting the right containers, planting media, and planting combinations are the first steps in creating a successful garden.

Selecting a Container

Almost any type of container will work as long as it has drainage holes. Keep in mind that wood, clay, and unglazed ceramic containers will lose moisture more quickly and will require more frequent watering than plastic, metal, fiberglass, or glazed pots. This is also true for small or dark-colored containers. This is your chance to get creative! What can you use around your house that could be upcycled as your next container?


Selecting Plants

Most vegetables and herbs will do well in containers but your cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes are heavy feeders that will require extra nutrients compared to your vegetables. Most shallow-rooted plants are suitable for containers.

Selecting Pots and Plants with Design in Mind

Plants can be grouped in containers based on:

  • Harvesting time—spring, summer, or fall crops
  • Form—round, horizontal, oval, upright, or trailing
  • Size—small plants in front and underneath and large plants above and behind
  • Texture—coarse (stout stems, large leaves, big fruit), medium, or fine (dainty leaves, wispy stems, tiny flowers).
  • Color—of flowers, leaves, or fruit
  • Ingredients for favorite recipes to create a themed garden—Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, or Asian


Design Tips

If you are wanting to design a container garden for aesthetics, keep in mind these three things. You’ll need plants that are spillers, thrillers, and fillers;

Spillers hang over the edge of the container. Common spillers are sweet potato vine and wave petunia.

Thrillers are erect-type plants that you often will plant in the middle or towards the back of your container. Thrillers add drama and interest. Examples of thrillers are purple fountain grass, coleus, and other texture-type plants.

Fillers are what you “fill” the space between your spillers and thrillers. These plants are usually round, sometimes erect, type plants. Examples of fillers are impatiens, marigolds, dusty miller, zinnia, and other popular annuals.

Container garden design follows the "spiller, filler, and thriller" technique

Container garden design follows the “spiller, filler, and thriller” technique

Think in odd numbers. With odd numbers, things on either side balance something in the middle. Artistic gardeners often choose odd numbers of plants: (3, 5, 7, 9) to create this symmetrical balance.

Vary your leaf sizes! You’ll create a one-of-a-kind design by putting different sizes, shapes, and textures of leaves side by side. Examples of varying leaf textures can be narrow grass leaves, medium-sized salvia leaves, and large-sized Hosta leaves.

In a world with growing amounts of limited time and space, container gardening seems to make more sense these days.