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How to Plant a Container Garden

Container gardening — growing plants in pots — is a simple alternative to traditional garden beds. Learn to add these portable displays to your home landscape.

Prepare the Container

Containers on a Patio.

Start by choosing a container. There's a wide variety of materials and styles to choose from. Make sure the container has holes in the bottom for proper drainage. If it doesn't, you can drill holes with a large drill bit. Match the bit to the container material. For example, if you have ceramic, terra cotta or concrete container, use a masonry bit.

Next, put in potting soil. Don't use regular soil from your garden or yard, as it likely won't drain well and lacks the nutrients that potted plants need to thrive.

Good to Know

Containers are available in materials such as terra-cotta, wood, concrete, ceramic, plastic and metal. Consider the look each type will add to your display. For continuity, group containers with similar colors and styles.

Adding Plants to Your Container

Man Planting Flowers in a Container.

Container gardening lets you quickly create a display tailored to your landscape. For example you can try something showy using a thriller, a filler and a spiller. Start with a thriller — a tall plant in the middle of the container. From there, work your way down and around with your filler — something that contrasts with the central plant and fills in the pot. Finally, add your spiller — a vine that spills over the edge of the pot, making your container look full and robust. See Lowe's Plant Guide for care tips and growth characteristics for thousands of plant types.

When selecting plants, read the tag and note light and water requirements. Spacing is a consideration as well, but typically plants are spaced closer together in container gardens than in garden beds.

Place the container in that perfect spot that needs something eye-catching. If your container is on a deck or similar surface, you may want to use a saucer to protect the wood beneath it.

Good to Know

Not sure what plants work best for your home? Your local Lowe's has plants that are well-suited for your region.

Container Gardening Alternatives

Hanging Container with Flowers.

The joy of container gardening is designing something that works for your space and with your personal style. You can try a design that mixes many colors and styles for a stunning display. Another option is to use green or white flowers only, for a cleaner, subtle look.

You can also consider growing something that you eat. Herbs and many vegetables do well in containers. You can even grow plants inside. Just make sure your window gets plenty of sun.

Good to Know

Containers are available in many sizes, so you can create a garden that's ideal for your space. One or two containers can dress up a small area — such as an apartment balcony — but won't require a lot of care. If you have more space to decorate — such as a backyard patio — choose larger containers that hold multiple plants.

Watch our Garden Basics video: How Do I Pick The Right Container?