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Tips for Starting a Container Garden at Your Apartment

April 27th, 2017


Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden. If you can rustle up a few containers, some soil, some plants, and a little time to care for them, you can create a beautiful apartment garden on your deck or patio. Here’s how to do it:

1. Evaluate your sunlight:

Many summer garden plants need at least six hours of direct sun every day, but many apartment patios and balconies are too sheltered to get it. If you have that much sun, congratulations. Consult this list for plants to use on a sunny patio. If you have less, this list will help you find plants that do well on less. If what you want is a kitchen apartment garden instead (which will want sun), this list suggests the best vegetable plants for containers.

2. Collect containers:

For interest, choose containers of varying sizes and dimensions. You can use almost anything for your apartment garden—just ensure it is large and has good drainage. For plants to be lush and healthy, their roots need room to spread out.

3. Choose healthy—not showy—plants:

The plants decked out with flowers or loaded with tomatoes might catch your eye, but look instead for plants that have sturdy, green, upright stems and lush foliage. The flowers and fruit will come, and the plant without them will probably survive the transplanting better and make a beautiful display in your apartment garden.

4. Arrange your plants:

The ornamental pots in your apartment garden will look like professional creations if you follow the simple “thrill, fill, and spill” pattern. For the thrill, use something tall as the centerpiece (or center of the back) of your pot. Surround it with bushy specimens as the fill. Finally, use plants that trail over the edge of your pot to be the spill. Fill your ornamental pots tightly so they look lush from the beginning. Fruiting plants, however (tomatoes, beans, peas, etc.), need shoulder space, so limit them to perhaps one in each pot.

5. Start planting:

Be sure you fill your pots with potting soil, not garden soil. Potting soil is specially concocted to retain moisture, drain well, stay loose enough to allow roots to spread easily, and deliver nutrients. Fill your containers to a little below the top, but don’t pack the soil down. Pop your transplants out of their rooting pots, then pull the root balls apart a little in your transplants and shove them into holes you dig with your fingers. Add enough potting soil to secure them upright and water your finished apartment garden.

6. Care for your garden:

Containers need water. Often. During hot weather, you should plan to water every day. Include liquid fertilizer when you water, even though your potting soil probably says it already includes fertilizer, and your apartment garden will stay lush all season long. Encourage continued blooming all summer long by pinching off faded flowers.

With a little effort in the spring, it’s easy to create an apartment garden that will delight you all summer long.


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