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How to Create a Container Garden

How to Create a Container Garden

Mary Smith |

Welcome to our all-in-one guide to creating a container garden.  There are several articles here at Mary's Heirloom Seeds to help you get started but we thought it would be nice to get everything in one easy to ready article.

*NOTE: at the end of the article, you will see all of the videos mentioned as well as specific heirloom crops and varieties that grow well in containers

Even if you have the space to grow in ground, there are a few benefits to growing in containers. Some of those benefits include:

Saves space

Water conservation

Economical if you're using recycled containers

Mobile gardening - this is a bonus if you are growing in a new space. Sometimes it is best to understand your land prior to putting in a permanent garden.

In our Start A Bucket Garden article we used all recycled buckets.

5 Factors to consider when starting a container garden are:








We use our own container garden mix that consists of compost, coconut coir and perlite. If you do not make your own compost, you can probably find local compost.

VIDEO: DIY Potting Soil Mix

A common mistake made in container gardening is using ordinary soil (topsoil/garden soil) in containers. A specialized potting soil mix should give proper moisture control and air for growing roots.



A container garden does not nave to be anything fancy unless that is your goal. In our Start a Bucket Garden project, we used all recycled buckets for a more economical approach. We also have a tutorial to use 55 gallon food grade drums. those were AMAZING planters!

VIDEO: How to Make a Planter from a 55 Gallon Drum

Whatever container you choose, it must have proper drainage to grow a healthy plant

bucket with drilled drainage holes



If you are growing several varieties in a single container, it is important to match their water requirements. Tomatoes for example don't like "wet feet" but watercress thrives in wet conditions.

Depending on your regions and rainfall, you might need to keep a closer eye on the amount of water your containers receive. In Florida, we received so much rain at times, I rarely needed to water (depending on the season). In California, we received very little rainfall so I watered regularly.



Most vegetables and herbs need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive. There are a few shade tolerant crops but 6 to 8 hours should be your minimum goal when choosing a location.

I mentioned earlier that "Sometimes it is best to understand your land prior to putting in a permanent garden." Container gardens are a great way to get started with a garden if you aren't sure where you want to start or if you might be moving and need to remove the plants.

Distance to water is another factor when choosing a location. Hauling water to your garden can be extremely difficult so choosing a spot that's close to a hose is a bonus.


SEEDS - more specifically what varieties will grow and thrive in containers.

Most herbs do well in a container. Depending on the size, you might even be able to plant several in one container. Our Rosemary grew very well in a large 10 gallon pot. (yes, Rosemary flowers and the bees love it!)


Depending on the type of container, you can use our Square Foot Garden Plant Spacing Chart to help you decide how many seeds or plants to use in each container.

Eggplant is a great option for containers


Determinate Tomatoes do well in containers



This is part of a friend's garden


 Ready for a list of specific crops and heirloom varieties that do well in containers?

BASIL - I'm not sure it's possible to grow "too much' Basil. It's easy to start from seed and thrives in a container under the right conditions.

BEANS - Both bush beans and pole beans will grow very well in containers. To make the most of your space, choose a pole bean and add a cage or trellis for your beans.

BEETS - I recommend a longer container than a bucket for beets

Beets and Swiss Chard in a container

CUCUMBERS - Pickling cucumbers and Mexican Sour Gherkin (cucuamelon) are great choices for a container garden.

Those cucumelons are so cute!

EGGPLANT - As mentioned above, Eggplant is great for containers. For a small (tiny) variety we carry Petch Siam. Rosa Bianca and Turkish orange are both very unique varieties while Black Beauty is a staple and prolific producer.

GREENS - pretty much all of the greens are fantastic for a container garden! Swiss Chard is a favorite as it can continue to produce for 9 months (or more) and even produces without bolting in the heat

HEIRLOOM PEAS - I don't think I've met a pea that I didn't like! Whether it's a cool weather pea or a southern pea, both will do well in containers.


PEPPERS - All of the pepper varieties we have grown have done well in containers. These Chocolate Baby Bells were especially delicious!

While you can grow Radishes in containers, I prefer to use the space for more prolific producers. However, if radishes are on your must-grow list and container are your option, you can definitely grow them in containers.

SQUASH & PUMPKINS - I prefer to grow vining squash and pumpkins in ground. Bush Squash and Summer Squash are great options for containers. Benning's Green Tint, Yellow Scallop and White Scallop are fantastic options for a container garden. Lebanese Bush Squash is a unique, heirloom variety that would also grow well in containers.

DETERMINATE TOMATOES - from our article The Wonderful World of Heirloom Tomatoes,

Determinate tomatoes produce the fruit all at once. These are typically bush tomatoes, and make the best tomatoes for container gardening. Since all the tomatoes are ripe within a short period of time, these are great plant choices if you plan to can or have a short tomato growing season.


TOMATILLO - we definitely cannot overlook tomatillos when planning a container garden. They are versatile, easy to grow and thrive in containers.

OKRA - in my experience, growing okra in containers usually means smaller plants (compared to the 6 foot trees we usually grow) but they can definitely thrive in containers.


Ready for a few videos? As promised, below you will find videos we have created over the years about growing in containers.
















If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask!
Email: mary@marysheirloomseeds.com




Great information,going to do some container gardening this year can’t wait to get started.Thank you for all the information.


Great videos. Where do you get perlite in bulk?

Shelby ,

Excellent article! I love that all of the information is together in one place. You’re the best!


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