Container Gardens for the Beginning Green Thumb

A dwarf citrus tree in a container.

If you’re looking to develop a green thumb this summer, the idea of getting started can be intimidating. But container gardens are a great place to start as they are easy to plant, simple to maintain, and can pack some serious punch when it comes to sprucing up your yard, deck, or home! The versatility of container gardening makes it a great choice for any gardener. Take a look at our favorite ideas for beginners below.

Small Citrus Trees

A citrus plant is a great choice for a container garden. Citrus trees specifically are attractive and can even provide you with some seasonal fruit to use in the kitchen! These plants love sunshine, but do not bode well with large temperature fluctuations. If you don't live in a mild climate, the trees can be placed outside during warmer months and then brought inside during the winter where they will continue to flourish.

Plant citrus trees, such as those that sprout lemons or oranges, in a large garden pot. They should be watered whenever the top layer of soil becomes dry. These plants may take up to six months to be ready for harvest, but it’s well worth the wait!

Tomato Plants

A cherry tomato plant in a pot

Tomatoes can be easily grown in containers—and who doesn’t love a fresh and juicy tomato to include in their summer salad? Start by choosing a round pot between 18 and 24 inches in diameter that has drainage holes. Next, pick a spot on your property that will receive at least six hours of sunlight every day. Because tomatoes are susceptible to diseases and attracting insects that reside in gardening soil, use premium potting soil rather than garden soil. The soil should be light and fluffy to allow for moisture circulation. Plant tomatoes by digging a hole deep enough to cover two-thirds of the tomato stem to encourage more root growth. Add support such as tomato cages and keep soil moist (but not saturated) at all times for best results. Keeping a saucer under the drainage holes of your pot will allow your plant to gradually absorb moisture on a hot day. After following these steps, you’ll have ripe tomatoes in no time!

Shade Plants

Shade plants are great candidates for container gardens. Combining beauty with low maintenance is a recipe for success, and they will be a great addition to your yard. Try plants such as fuchsia to add a pop of color, begonias for elegance, or Persian shield plants for something unique and impressive. These plants are all simple to grow and will survive in shady areas. If you have a spot in your yard that lacks sunlight, these are the perfect adornment.


A collection of herbs in terra cotta pot.

Add to your range of summer flavors by growing your own herbs in containers! Basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, and thyme all flourish in container gardens. They can be grown on your deck, inside on your windowsill, or on your front steps. These herbs require abundant sun, so place containers in a spot that receives eight hours of light a day. You may begin with seeds or plants, but make sure to use large containers with good drainage abilities. It’s better to combine several smaller plants into a larger container than to have smaller pots. Use potting soil for best results, making sure to water whenever the soil is dry beneath the surface. These plants may take a few weeks to begin flourishing, but that is normal. Once the warm weather hits, they’ll begin to grow.

Topical Varieties

Get into the spirit of summer with something lush, colorful, and tropical. One great thing about containers is that they’re the perfect place to plant specimens you wouldn’t ordinarily place along your landscaped area. Create an arrangement that lets you get creative and that's easy to maintain. Combine plants such as citronella, orange sunpatiens, angel vines, and ‘Maui Gold’ elephants ear for something florally fabulous. These plants will do well in climates that are hot and humid, necessitating soil that fluctuates in moisture levels. Use one large container to house these plants and place it in a sunny spot for best results. All that’s left to do is add a piña colada and you’ll be transported to your own personal paradise!

Container gardens and their versatility are simple to plant and maintain, making them perfect for beginners. Once you get started, you’ll quickly find how many options are out there and you’ll love expanding your green thumb horizons.