• Katy Gardener

Container Gardening for beginners (like me)

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

In this post you will learn how to be a successful container gardener.

Keep scrolling for a demo video and six step checklist.


You can grow anything in a container, but some things grow better than others. Here is a helpful guide to get you started.



Have a watch at me planting Cafe au Lait dahlias for the first time...


  • Place a layer of broken pots (known as crocks) at the base of the container.

  • Partially fill the container with compost. If your container is large and/or heavy, fill and plant at the location where it will live.

  • If planting bulbs, take note of the root depth and measure and plant accordingly using the back of the bulb packet for guidance.

  • If the plants are already established, gently remove from their original container and be careful not to rip the roots and place in the pot.

  • Add compost to the container and pat gently ensuring it is at least 5cm below the rim of the pot.

  • Finish by watering well.



1) Think about what you want your container to achieve

Do you want to add colour to your dull garden, do you want to add height to break up a long patio, or are you looking to grow edibles? Anything is possible when you have a plan.

2) Understand your environment

Identify the place you want to position your container and take note of the available space and sunlight. This consideration should dictate your plant choice. Do some research, the back of seed packets, or plant descriptions can really help inform your decision. If you are looking to grow multiple things in the same container, grow plants with similar requirements.

3) Remember plants grow!

Find out the potential height and width of a plant as it matures, this should dictate your starter container. Be mindful that some plants e.g. banana plants can quickly outgrow their starter container so be prepared to propagate and up-pot for continued growth.

4) Use compost

Container plants are much more successful when they grow in compost rather than clumpy garden soil. Garden soil often contains weeds and insects which you should avoid bringing into your containers.

5) Don’t forget drainage

Make sure your container has holes at the bottom, if necessary, drill the holes yourself. Then add a layer of stones or crocks before adding your compost. These steps will prevent your pot getting waterlogged.

6) Find the right watering balance

Remember compost is less dense than garden soil so water passes through it quickly. You want the soil to be moist throughout but not wet. Pay attention to the weather. On hot days containers dry out very quickly, so if the sun shines you may have to increase your watering efforts to up to twice a day.

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