Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

Garden DesignContainer GardensOutdoor Container Gardens → Design With Your Pots!

Outdoor Container Gardens: Design With Your Pots!

Choose your containers and pots, first considering the needs of the plants you've selected for your outdoor container garden. Some plants need to breathe and require porous containers such as terra cotta, clay, or wood, while others thrive in plastic, glass, ceramic or metal containers.

Every pot material, whether made from terra cotta or copper, has advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Terra cotta pots (clay pots) provide excellent drainage but dry out rapidly.
  2. Glazed ceramic pots and glass pots hold water really well but may not provide adequate drainage.
  3. Dark colored pots soak up heat as well as sunlight.
  4. Metal pots are susceptible to weather damage like denting, tarnish, and rust.
  5. Cheap plastic pots grow brittle and may chip or crack.
  6. Although redwood and treated cedar are durable, most wooden containers eventually do decay.

Container Tips

Growing Mixture

When you're ready to plant your outdoor container garden, use only quality potting soils or soil-less potting mixtures. These lighter weight mediums offer better drainage than regular garden soil. They are also weed and disease free and many contain essential soil nutrients. Be sure that whatever mixture you use drains quickly yet retains enough moisture for the roots of your plants.


Because they are exposed to sun and wind, outdoor container gardens need watering more often than houseplants. Check them daily to be sure that their moisture level is no more than one inch from the top of the pot.

With an ounce of ingenuity and a good occasional dousing, even the smallest patio or porch can show off beautiful crops of vegetables or a garden of flowers in containers. Your garden space may be limited, but when you container garden the sky is the limit.