Creative Container Gardening

Peconic River Herb Farm


Why? Convenience, portability, temporary-no commitment. Relative ease of set up and completion compared to in ground gardens.

Where? Stairs, porches, patios, outdoor rooms & kitchens, entrances, punctuation points, along paths, into existing gardens, sun, shade, wet, dry, ANYWHERE!

When? Year round-Evergreens, drieds, colorful twigs-Winter

Bulbs, blooming shrubs, annuals, grasses-Spring

Hot tropicals, annuals, water gardens-Summer

Grasses, grains fall shrubs, annual & vegetables-Fall

(Don’t forget to change out plants occasionally as the seasons change!)


Pot Selection- Anything with a drain hole or holes that is sturdy and weatherproof, especially if year round. Should be as large as possible for less watering and maintenance. Clay for weight, porosity and classic good looks. Plastic for economy, lightweight and ability to be hidden by a cache pot type cover (basket, bucket, etc..). Other containers for planting include galvanized tin, fiberglass, wood (excellent), stone, hypertufa (fake stone), cement, which may be aged for an instant antique look. (Mix up a bar of pottery clay in water with some moss and a small bottle of fish emulsion fertilizer to a thick slurry and paint onto your container).

Planting mix- A soil-less, light & well-drained potting mix should be used. Do not use soil straight from the garden as it contains weed seeds and possibly diseases and does not drain well when compressed into a container. Combine potting mix with both a long and short-term fertilizer like Plant Tone & Osmocote, which is what we use. Other amendments can be added as needed: peat to retain moisture for plants that are water hogs, sand to increase weight for windy locations and improve drainage, vermiculite & perlite for cactus and succulents and to decrease weight in larger pots or sol-u-sorb granules for increased water retention for hanging baskets, window boxes, etc…

Watering- Should be done as needed, thoroughly and gently with a water breaker type watering wand or watering can. Water until you see it run out of the drain holes at the bottom, then don’t water again till needed. It’s just as easy to over-water as underwater! Group pots together to cut down on watering needs. Staging of some sort will increase the attractiveness of your container garden. Plant stands, benches, crates, old wheelbarrows and upturned buckets & pots will all work & show all plants to good advantage. Space plants properly to increase light availability & add air circulation. This will help prevent diseases. In addition, be sure to groom plants regularly: deadhead, cut back and remove dead or damaged branches and leaves to keep them looking their best. Lastly, try to intersperse some garden art or personal artifacts; signs, statues or maybe even a fountain or other water feature to further highlight and enhance your grouping.

Light- Even sun loving plants in small containers will need some kind of break from the summer heat. Look for an area that gets part day shade, like the west or east side of a building or fence. If there is no direct light at all, don’t despair; there is plenty of gorgeous shade loving plants to create with.