Five Tips for Newbie Container Gardeners


There is no shame in being a newbie. Everyone has to start somewhere, and gardening is mostly a learn-by-doing hobby. So with that in mind, I’ve shared five tips that I wish I had known when I was potting up my first plant. Hopefully other experienced gardeners will also add a tip or two in the comments, to make this post really useful to newer gardeners.

  1. You’ve probably read many gardening books that suggest putting a pot shard over the drainage hole. You can ignore that advice. In nearly a decade of container gardening, I haven’t noticed a difference in pots with a shard and those without.
  2. Most of the time, the “right” time to water is when the top two inches of dirt in a pot feel dry. It seems that a lot of new gardeners want a more precise watering schedule, like “every other day,” or “once a week.” Gardening is more fluid than that sort of schedule. Plants need water when they’ve used up all the available moisture, not because it’s Monday.
  3. Use only potting soil in your containers. Garden dirt is too dense, and often times harbors pests, weeds, or diseases.
  4. Keep a journal. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn by paying attention to patterns and cycles in gardening.
  5. Get involved in some sort of gardening community or club, be it online or in the real world. Gardeners are generally a very supportive bunch, and it’s good to have a group of friends who won’t be annoyed by hearing about how incredible your iris blooms are, or who can help you when something goes wrong.

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