Flowers & Plants Resource Center
Creative Container Gardening

Choosing a container for your plants can be difficult; there are guidelines you should follow to be sure the item you choose is safe and functional. Remember, just because the container looks good, doesn’t mean it will provide the proper habitat plants need to thrive. You may have to alter the original object by drilling drainage holes, reinforcing walls, etc. Always clean used or recycled objects with soapy water before planting. 

Here are some practical things to consider: 

What is the container made of? 

  • Avoid anything made of lead 
  • Avoid any porous materials
  • The best container materials include: cement, clay (terra cotta), metal, plastic, fiberglass, nylon, glazed pottery, unglazed pottery, stone, wood, and wire 

Where did the container come from?

  • Avoid items that have held chemicals and/or pesticides 
  • Avoid plastics 3, 6, and 7 
  • Disinfect anything used or recycled 

Will it be a good habitat for plants?

  • Check the drainage qualities 
  • Make sure it can be easily moved around 
  • Determine whether or not it will moderate temperature well 

Aside from choosing a container for practical reasons, pay attention to the appearance. There are a few things you should do to make sure your container garden looks great within your landscape. 

Be Creative! Think about the visual appearance of the item. Find something unique that no one else will have. Refinish the item as needed so it looks cohesive with your personal style and landscape. 

Location, Location, Location! Always choose a location where your container will become a focal point without looking awkward. Consider using your creative container garden in order to provide privacy, hide ugly items, accent a landscape, divide floor plans, provide focal points, or serve as a vegetable or herb garden. 

If possible, be green! Many items that have been used or recycled can make fantastic and unique container gardens. Appealing and affordable items can easily be found at local thrift shops or garage sales. Reuse items such as boots, wagons, crates, barrels, jugs, and much more!