The 7 Do’s and Don’ts of Garden Containers

7 Tips for a Thriving Small-Space Garden from the National Garden Bureau.

1. DO select a container that will give your plants’ roots room to grow, but not so much space that they will not fill out the pot when mature.

2. DO plant in pots with drainage holes. Some decorative containers might be missing drainage holes. If so, drill a few holes yourself or place a smaller pot inside the decorative one to give water a place to drain. Elevate the inner pot on stones, so that water will collect at the bottom of the larger container.

3. DON’T use soil directly from the garden. As tempting as it is to dig up some backyard dirt and throw it into a container, potted plants need drainage. Look for potting mixes that have vermiculite, peat moss, compose, perlite or a combination.

4. DON’T pat the soil down after scooping it into the pot. Looser soil is easier on the roots.

5. DON’T forget to mulch. Pots in full sun will benefit from a layer of mulch to help the soil retain moisture and discourage weeds.

6. DO stake tall plants. Vining plants such as morning glories and tomatoes will need a stake or small trellis for support. Add the support right when you plant so you don’t disturb the roots later.

7. DO use containers to experiment with planting in different parts of your yard. Try a new plant on a small scale, or test a shady spot to see how well certain plants will perform with little sun.

A Perfect Container Combo

Stick to basics with the “thriller, spiller, filler” concept.

Thriller: a plant that adds height, drama and vertical appeal. Try ornamental grass or coleus.

Spiller: a plant placed near the rim of the pot to grow downward or “spill.” Try petunia, sweet potato vine or nasturtium.

Filler: a rounded plant or mound of plants to fill in bare spots. Try lantana or heliotrope.