Beginner’s Guide to Container Gardens

07/13/2021 | Ken Davis Container Gardens, In the Garden, Plant Care

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

Woman admiring her containers on a balcony

Before you plant a container garden, you need only four things: a container, soil, plants, and water. It can be that simple. Of course, things can get a bit complicated when keeping your plants alive and your container gardener thriving. Here are some points to help you when planting a container garden and keep it at its best.

The perfect pot – Container gardens can add a punch of color, elegance, creativity, and drama to every landscape. Containers are the accent pieces in our gardens. The primary key to the success of container gardening is to choose a pot that has good drainage.

Style – First things first, pick a pot that appeals to you! What’s your style? When you choose art and decor for your home, consider your style and what suits you. Pots come in all sorts of styles and materials, including traditional terracotta, sleek glazed pottery, painted ceramics, plastics, and even whimsical lightweight pottery.

Size – Does Matter! What you plan to plant in your container determines what size pot you need. Give your new plants room to grow. At a minimum, go 2 inches larger than the pots that currently house them. For trees and shrubs, they should be 2-3 times larger. Small pots dry out quickly. It all comes down to Potting Soil quantity. The larger pot, the longer it takes to dry out. 

Shape – Its surroundings might dictate the shape of the container. For example, you might want a square pot to fit into a corner or a lower round bowl to sit on your outdoor dining table without hampering cross-table conversations. Tall pots are used against garage doors and large walls.

Color – The color of the container can match other garden pottery, complement its surroundings, or stand out as a bold contrast against the many shades of garden green. Match the color of the pot with the colors of plants or choose a neutral color and let the plants be the stars.

At Watters Garden Center, we have a vast selection of pottery, from trendy new colors to Cobalt classics. There are many great new colors, styles, textures, and shapes that last for years outdoors. Browse our selection of containers, and you’ll find the perfect fit for your new garden.

Glazed pots are a bit more expensive initially but last for decades; plastic and terracotta pots tend to crack and break after a season or two. Glazed containers are available in multitudes of colors and patterns. Plus, they are less likely to be tipped over by mountain wind.

Soil – Fill your new container with Watters Potting Soil. This premium soil is the perfect blend for retaining water at the root level while draining enough for deeper roots; both attributes are necessary for hardy plants.

Plant Placement – Arrange plants on the soil surface. Firm the soil around each plant, adding soil as necessary. Place plants so leaves are touching each other. When the container is fully planted, very little surface soil should be visible. This foliage-to-foliage technique prevents dirt from drying out too quickly, plus it creates a more finished look from the outset.

No Soil at the Rim – Soil should be about 2-inches below the top of the rim, allowing the space necessary to water your new container garden properly.

Water – Thoroughly irrigate your newly planted creation until water is seeping out from the bottom of the pot. Dry soil spots are common in new plantings, requiring multiple waterings to fully saturate the potting soil. Water again 2-3 times to adjust the soil’s moisture and activate the plant food nutrients. Aqua Boost Crystals help.

Aqua Boost Label

Aqua Boost Crystals – these water-holding crystals store water at the root level, keeping plants moist and extending bloom times. Blend Aqua Boost into the top layer of your potting soil where roots reside for even more container success.

Use a saucer – they protect surfaces. An outdoor setting may not require this step, but an outdoor saucer has a secondary benefit. Water your new container until water seeps out the bottom and fills the saucer. You have effectively created a self-watering pot. As your plants need more water during the day, this water can be wicked back up to the plants’ roots.

Insiders Tip – Fast-growing container gardens are hungry and need regular feeding. At two-week intervals, feed your containers and hanging baskets with Watters Flower Power for truly outstanding blooms. Simply add to your water every other week to increase flower size, fragrance, and sheer quantity of blooms. Flower Power is specifically designed to bring out the color of hanging baskets, blooming annuals, perennials, even roses.

Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners choose the perfect containers here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at or