Container Gardening: How to Grow Flowers in Pots

Begonias in flowerpots
Begonias are a popular choice for container gardens.(DepositPhotos)

Buying Plants

You’ll need enough flowers to fill the pots, and to space a couple of inches between them. Plants come in different sizes, and while smaller plants will take longer to fill out, any size is fine.

Gardening Tip

Many garden centers now have pre-planted mixed containers, often with interesting plants that may not be available individually. Use them as design inspiration, or bring one home for instant gratification!

Terra cotta pot with soil
Cover your pots’ drainage holes before adding potting soil and flowers. (DepositPhotos)

How to Plant Containers

Now it’s time for the fun part – planting your flowers!

  • Start by covering your drainage holes (if they are large enough that soil would wash out), then fill the pot about two-thirds full with potting mix.
  • Set the plants in the container and decide on your arrangement. You can do a round design (tallest plants in the center and shorter or trailing plants around the edges), or a front-facing design (tall plants in back and shorter ones in front).
A homemade wooden window box installed under a window on a brick home
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  • Gently remove your plants from their store-bought pots. If the plant is stuck, squeeze the pot a little to help push it out — never yank on the stem.
    Disturb the roots as little as possible, but if they are a hard-packed ball you can loosen them a little with your fingers.
    Then nestle the plants in the soil, keeping an eye on the depth to make sure they will be planted at the same level they were in their original pot.

Gardening Tip

Make the soil surface about 2” below the rim of the pot. Otherwise, water will spill out instead of soaking in.

Ceramic planter with flowers
The best thing about container gardens is that you’re not limited to the backyard — so go ahead, brighten up your patio or soften your hardscaping with a flower pot! (DepositPhotos)
  • Add soil between the plants, firming it gently with your fingers. Don’t press hard enough to break the plants.
  • Make sure everything is at the same level with no roots showing.
  • Move your container to its chosen spot, and water the plant thoroughly until water runs out the bottom.
  • Now, step back and admire your handiwork!
A single large tropical hibiscus makes a dramatic container plant.

Caring for Containers

  • Water your container every two to three days. In the heat of summer, you may need to water it every day.
  • If you want to feed your plants, use an all-purpose or bloom-boosting plant food every couple of weeks according to package instructions.
  • As you water, remove spent blooms to encourage more blooming — a practice called deadheading. Don’t just pull off the dead petals — actually pinch off the little stem beneath the flower.
  • If your plants are looking spindly, pinch off the tips of the stems to stimulate them to produce more branches.

Share your container gardening experiences and tips in the comments below!

Further Information


  1. I am doing a project for the FFA at my highschool, what flower do you suggest be: best for winter, easiest to grow, and the fastest. Because of the choice I’m thinking of growing them and painting pots to sell to the public. 🙂 please respond fast.

  2. Megan, if you’re growing flowers in winter, you’ll need something that can handle the cold weather. Pansies and ornamental cabbages are popular winter choices. Good luck!

  3. I am new at gardening and decided to get some gerbera daisies and put them in some pots I decorated. I’ve keep them outside and for the first month they did great, then they started wilted and petals fell off so I clipped them off at base of stem…. My question is, how long with it take for new flowers to bloom? Right now I only have leaves and it’s not the pretty look I was going for this summer.

  4. Hi I have a weird question, what kind of flowers are those in the initial picture, the rectangular cement planter with mutlicolored flowers? I have these and don’t know what they are (lost their tag). thanks

  5. Aloha, I just planted portulaca in a container yesterday and when I bought the plant, the blooms were full and beautiful hot pink. This morning, they look wilted. Is this temporary? Do I need to pinch the wilted flowers off?

  6. I just purchased 2 large concrete pots to go outside of our Church. The pots will be sitting on a concrete slab and they will be partially protected by an awning. I am wondering now if I need to line them with anything to prevent them from freezing and cracking. I live in zone 7. The pots are quite thick ay least 1 inch and they are wide at top and tapered bottoms.

  7. Hi. I’m planning to begin a little garden in conteiners cause I live in a little apartment, without sun. Which flowers do you recommend me? Thanks.

  8. Hi there, I have just bought some lovely cement/stone pots and put new plants in them. Should I have sealed the inside of the pots due to them being pourus? Will the soil soak through and stain the outside or is the sealing not necessary. ?

  9. Hi I’m new to gardening. I bought 4 (4 pack) of lobelia. I have 2 rectangular planters prob 9×3. I put 2 2 pack and separated them evenly into 8 singles. Is that too much for one planter? Or is that ok? I have some hanging planters if it is, I’m just unsure. Thank you

  10. I don’t think you want to seal the outside of the pots. An important advantage of using stone pots is that they are breathable. Plant roots like that. That’s one reason why you more people use terra-cotta pots than porcelain pots for plants.

  11. I live now in retirement in rural Latvia. I have built an English gentleman’s estate with formal settings vast lawns and statues but one large stone urn set high on plinth is hopeless for anything in winters in Latvia. Summers are lovely and so reliable one takes things for granted. I have made a container to fit this urn so to take it out in autumn. It is wide and shallow in the 1786 style of vase arrangement for gardens. Boxwood no, rhodies or azeleas may do well and use them in the conservatory later over winter. I can’t think of anything else. One tip is Indian mint. We have it all over now and it spreads like crazy at the pond side. It is light blue flowered and mistaken as thyme by many. I use it as a herb in lamb dishes and and nothing kills this plant. I just do not want more of it and not in a classical urn. Any ideas please.

  12. My garden soil is virtually sand. I keep planting flowers and they keep dying. Can I dig holes in the garden and bury the pot in there keeping the plants in the pots?

  13. Have purchased several pre-planted pots(plastic with bottom drain holes) filled with flowering annuals (lobelia, petunia, etc.). Afraid of plants breaking up if I try to transplant into garden pots. If I slice several sides and enlarge the existing drain holes, can I just sit the entire pot into potting soil in the concrete pots? Or do I have to remove entirely and re-plant without the stabilizing plastic pot? Thx.

  14. Should I take flowers out of the plastic hanging container and put into cement pots or can I keep them in the plastic containers. It’s for the cemetery

  15. Very helpful information! We just re did our landscaping and I’m looking forward to putting out some potted plants! Thanks for the tips!!

  16. There are so many different container for flowers. I could not choose one so I always buy plastic containers. They are simple, easy to carry.

    • You need to make sure they are Perennials. They are the type of plants that if healthy come back each year. Annuals, die off at the end of their seasons.

  17. Summer came late this year, so in the last week i have just put out 15 window boxes, 5 tubs and 4 hanging baskets found this article very helpful.

  18. I’d like to have potted plants that last all year. What are the best ones to have that only get sun in the afternoon on my front porch?


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