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Container Gardening

Perfect for Your Front Porch

If you have a porch, you need to try container gardening as part of your landscaping. It’s great for both large and small spaces (any size porch works!) and for homeowners or renters.

It’s fantastic whether you are a novice or experienced gardener.

You can eat what you grow, highlight particular plants, or add plenty of curb appeal. It’s also a great kids’ project as well. You can turn your porch and the surrounding area into something really special.

girl watering flowers

Choose Your Container

Guitar Container Garden

This is easy; almost anything goes. Use clay or terra cotta, plastic, ceramic pots, planter boxes, wire or wood baskets, cement blocks, an old wagon, or perhaps an old boot!

The only thing you don’t want to do is use a container that has been treated or held toxic materials especially if you are going to eat the “fruits” of your labor. Be creative.

Guitar Container Garden

Ideal Porch Containers

We found some ideal porch gardening containers that will work well on any porch from Plow & Hearthicon. Grow a garden of fresh tomatoes, herbs and more almost anywhere with the space-saving patio gardenicon. Or, combine planter and privacy in this self-watering planter/trellis systemicon. These would also work well for decks and patios. Find these and many more great container ideas at Plow & Hearthicon.


Paint Your Pots for a Unified Container Garden

By painting your pots the same or complementary colors, you can transform a hodge podge container garden into a big WOW! Our video tells you how.


Proper drainage is important for two reasons: First, plants do not grow well in water-logged soil and second, roots need air. Too much water and the plant can’t get enough oxygen for growth. Make sure your container has drainage holes and if not drill several in the bottom. Also make sure that the holes do not become plugged; otherwise, you defeat the purpose of the drainage holes. We like to place small to medium size stones in the bottom so water can flow out the drainage holes.

Porous containers lose water quickly and allow for excellent air movement whereas non-porous containers hold water making drainage holes that much more important. Use an insert if you have a decorative container without holes. Although I still prefer to drill holes in the bottom with a special drill bit made for ceramics.

Here is what I love about container gardening. It’s really inexpensive. You can find containers either around the house, at thrift stores, or neighborhood garage sales. Grow your healthy herbs and plants from seeds.

Longevity, Geography and Cost

Before selecting your container consider the following:

Porous containers degrade quickly if exposed to moisture and freezing temps. Porous containers need to be moved indoors to prevent cracking during the winter months for those who live in such climates.

Non-porous containers are hardier but as a rule are more expensive. They are great for early growing seasons for lettuce or pansies as they can withstand temperature fluctuations more easily.

Make sure the container is appropriate for the plant when grown. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and beans need at least a five-gallon container. Beats, onions, and lettuce need at least a three-gallon container.

Healthy herbs need less; a gallon container will do. Flowers as a rule need a larger container based on the height. Taller flowering plants need more root space.

Person potting plants


Use potting soil. It usually contains various percentages of sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, pasteurized soil, and composted manure. Do not use native soil as it will contain clay which will compact the roots in a container. And never reuse the potting soil from the season before as it may contain diseases. Another option is to use soil less mixes which are two to three times lighter. We are told you can add about 10 percent of coarse sand to add weight for heavy plants.


Container gardens need more water than other planting situations. The exposed sides of the container wick away more moisture. Plastic and ceramic do not dry out as fast; however, they will still need additional water. Do not allow the containers to become dry as the finer roots will die.

One option is to use water-holding polymers or gels mixed with the potting soil. They help to hold water longer and may extend the time between watering. There are also self-watering pot systems and devices you can use to ensure the plant receives adequate water. If you live near the mountains water may contain higher levels of salt or carbonates which can cause issues. Excessive salt is damaging to plants and causes burned leaf edges, stunted growth, and fewer blooms.

Container gardens on porch in Thailand

Beautiful porch container garden in Thailand


Plants in containers grow quickly and deplete the available fertilizers. To combat this, mix controlled-release fertilizer granules into the soil mixture when you plant.


Don’t select plants until you know the specific location you will place them and how much light they will receive. Don’t mix plants with different light requirements either. Most nurseries will be able to tell you how much light a plant needs. Seed packets usually have the light requirements listed on the package.

The portability of containers allows you to move them to more desirable locations to take advantage of light conditions. Take reflected light into consideration. Light coming off your house or the sidewalk may be damaging to the plants.

For planning purposes flowering plants, water plants, and bruiting vegetables require eight hours of sunlight each day to grow well. Root vegetables can do well with six hours; leafy plants and herbs should get at least four hours. Some foliage plants need filtered light or shade.


Plantings should be in scale with your container both in width and height. See our Hanging Baskets Section for ideas and concepts related to container designs.

Plants for Container Gardening

Cat writes: "For those of us without a huge garden space (like me and my sweetie), we have to get more creative. This is a lettuce box, mounted onto the banister on the porch at our apartment. Notice the hay sticking out everywhere? Hay is much-neglected in gardening, despite that it keeps the soil moist, keeps weeds from sprouting, produces nice oat grass (that kitties love!) and acts as an insulating blanket to the plants."

What a great idea; this will work no matter the size of your porch but is ideal for small porches.

Railing planters fit perfectly on almost any porch. Grow beautiful flowers or delectable herbs! We found some neat window boxes and porch railing containers at Plow & Hearth icon!


Container Maintenance

Deadhead blooms and harvest herbs and vegetables regularly to prolong the life of the plants in your container garden. Stake or cage vegetables like tomatoes and sunflowers. Vines may need extra support. At the end of the growing season, remove all plants and roots and compost. Scrub the containers with a 10 percent solution of chlorine bleach to kill any organisms that remain. (10% bleach, 90% water)

There you have it! Send us pictures of your porch container gardens. We’d love to share them with others. And don’t forget to pass along any tips you might have also!

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Our Sponsors

The Porch Store
Porch Store
Custom Porch Products

Shop for Porch Parts at Vintage Woodworks.
Vintage Woodworks
For Your Porch Parts

Screened porch windows at
DIY Eze Breeze
Screen Porch Windows

Aluminum screen doors from PCA Products
PCA Products
Complement Any Home!

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