Caring for a Container Garden

Grow beautiful container gardens by following these tips on container garden care.

| April 2018

Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally (Cool Springs Press, 2017), by Mark Highland is a modern visual guide to growing organically. The book provides step-by-step photography and how-to projects so readers can take a hands-on look at updated popular gardening techniques. The following excerpt is from Chapter 10, "Organic Container Gardens."

Prevent pest problems and grow big beautiful container gardens by giving them the best care.


The easiest way to check whether your plants need water is by using your finger to test for moisture. Stick a finger into the soil. If you only get one knuckle deep and feel moisture, you can wait to water. If you get two knuckles deep and still don't feel moisture, it's time to water. Make sure to fill in where you poked the soil.

When rechecking in a day or two, check in a different spot. Soon you'll get a feel for how often to water, though this can change based on weather or environmental conditions. Hotter weather or sun exposure means more frequent watering is needed.

You can also test the moisture content of a pot by lifting it from the pot edge. Heavier pots contain more water. Lighter pots will tip easily when lifted without too much effort. It's a quick trick that's not quite as accurate, but with experience you'll soon learn how to know if the pot needs water by weight.


We've talked about soil and water, but fertilizer is the last essential element for successful, exuberant containers. All plants need fertilizer to grow and container gardens are no exception. Container gardens are an enclosed system, which means that everything the plant roots need to grow will have to be already inside the container or added as fertilizer.

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