Growing Guidance for Container Gardening with Shrubs and More

Here are four essential steps to make sure your potted plant flourishes:


  • If you want to grow plantings for long-term enjoyment, then choose plants that are hardy to our USDA zone 7 or 8, and hardy to USDA 5.
  • Match the size of the container to the size of the plant you’ve chosen. Look for a planter that is a few inches wider than the root ball of your shrub. Resist the urge to get a very large pot for a very small plant, as the excess soil may hold too much water for the little root ball.
  • For planting you plan to enjoy just for a growing season, you can use a container made of any material. For long-term plantings, you’ll want to choose frost-proof pots, like specially made glazed ceramic pottery that have a sticker saying ‘weather-proof’.
  • All containers must have a drainage hole to prevent the roots from getting soggy.


Use bagged potting soil, not soil from the ground, as it is lightweight and encourages rapid root growth. Our recommendation for potting soils are:

You can try and prevent soil from escaping through the drainage hole by covering it with a paper towel or mesh on the inside. Don’t block the hole with rocks or other filler, which prevents water from draining properly.


  • Consider adding a layer of mulch to the soil surface to retain moisture and reduce watering needs.
  • Be attentive to soil moisture. Check every day until you get a rhythm with your planting. Water thoroughly when the first few inches of soil have dried out. Pour water around the entire pot, not just in one spot.


  • If your garden freezes or experiences harsh weather in the winter, plan to move your potted plants to a protected spot. Place it out of the direct wind so it won’t dry out or tip over. Water it a bit before the soil freezes.
  • Plan to fertilize after the first year.
  • Replant into a larger container or into the landscape in three to five years when the plant outgrows its space. You’ll know it’s time when the plant grows less vigorously or produces fewer flowers.
  • Most plants can live in a container, but you’ll have the best long-term success with one that stays on the small side so it won’t outgrow the space too quickly.

Shrubs for Containers

Evergreen foliage:

Flowering shrubs:

From ‘Proven Winners – Gardening Simplified, Container Gardening’


Lacking outdoor growing space, but want to supplement your food expense by growing some of your own?

Don’t let that stop you from living your outdoor garden dreams! Watch our class recording to learn how to maximize the use of your outdoor space for edible gardening. With the focus on growing vegetables and herbs, learn how to maximize the use of your outdoor space while maintaining plant health with container gardening.

Blog Categories

Garden Center
Gardening Guides

Connect With Us