No matter the size, shape or layout of your garden. Whether it is grassed, paved or a balcony - container gardening for beginners can offer a range of flexible gardening options. Growing plants in containers is a very easy way to create instant and adaptable displays right outside your back door, Particularly handy if you are short on space.

There are so many plants that can be grown in containers, such as herbaceous plants, fruits, vegetables, and even shrubs and trees. However, container-grown plants can need a little more TLC than those growing in the ground. We have put together the best tips on how to get started with your own container garden, as well as how to keep them flourishing throughout the year. 

May Gardening Tips & Ideas Blog | Westminster Stone

location, location, location

As with any plants, placing the containers where the plants growing in them will thrive is essential. Plants that need a lot of sun to flourish should receive at least six hours of sunlight a day. They should  be placed in a south or west-facing location. Shade-loving plants should be grown in pots placed in the shade for most of the day.

Ideally, you will want to choose a sheltered spot for your containers. You will want to protect them from cold and drying winds that will cause them harm. Places such as below walls and fences and hedges are great locations. Check our guide to walled gardens to learn more about the wonders of garden walls. If you are placing pots on a wall or balcony, make sure they are secured and fixed down to prevent them from being blown or knocked off.

Choosing the container

There are so many different shapes, sizes, colours, styles, and materials to choose from when it comes to containers. You can go for conventional plastic, terracotta, or wooden pots, or you can be creative and recycle buckets, tins, or even old bathroom or kitchen furniture and fittings.

The only rules you need to consider is that they need to be large enough to provide your plants with the room they need to grow and that the containers allow for drainage.

The right compost for a container garden

To fill your container, choose sieved home-made compost or multipurpose compost from the garden centre. These soils are rich in nutrients, lightweight, and will retain moisture. Garden soil can be heavy and likely to contain weeds which will suffocate your plants. If growing perennials you’ll need to scrape off the top layer and replace it with fresh compost annually.

Choosing the right plants

For a low maintenance container garden - stick to evergreens or trees that don't need to be removed and replaced. If you are growing flowers or vegetables you may need to regularly update your containers, with many only flowering/cropping for a few months. Here are some of our favourite container garden ideas:

Herb Window Box

A great way to have fresh herbs on hand for all those autumnal dishes. Fill a window box or any container to hand with your favourites and label with lollipop sticks. Keep this in a sheltered sunny spot, close to the kitchen. 

Potato Planter

Find a container at least 30cm deep - bins and large buckets work well. Fill 1/4 of the container with compost and place seed potatoes in. Cover with compost, watering well. Once leaves start appearing - cover with more compost. After the plants have flowered, stop watering and wait for the leaves to die off. Now you can collect your harvest.

Beautiful Blooms Box

Using a mix of plants will add interest to your containers, think about adding trailing plants such as Ivy to give the pots a more mature feel. Gardeners World listed the following plants as the the top five for using in container gardens:

1. Coreopsis tinctoria

2. Cosmos

3. Busy Lizzies

4. Clematis

5. Ivy

Keep Them Flourishing 


Unlike plants grown in the ground, plants in containers will not have as much access to moisture, and therefore will require watering more often. This is particularly the case when the weather is warm and sunny, causing the compost to dry out within hours. During the summer, ensure you water your container plants thoroughly in the morning or evening. Making sure that the water reaches down to the roots and drains out through the bottom.


Similarly, plants in pots have less access to nutrients than those in the ground, so will need additional feeding. Use slow-release fertilisers or add liquid feed to your watering can. Plants should be fed around every fortnight during the growing season.