Container Gardening for Beginners: Shopping Guide

Container Gardening for Beginners: Shopping Guide

Sarah Coffey
Aug 15, 2012

We city-dwellers love container gardens, since they're fairly inexpensive, easy to start, and (of course) fun to shop for. One great way to learn the fine art of gardening is to visit a couple of stores and start asking questions. Although we've highlighted just a few stores below, you'll find links to garden stores by city at the bottom of this post.

Choose What You Want to Grow

Good options for beginning container gardeners include herbs, succulents, and (if you're looking for something a little more advanced) tomatoes. Most herbs need a few hours of full sun each day. Tomatoes need full sun and they like the heat. Succulents generally like bright light. (An overlit succulent turns brown or white and an underlit one stretches its stem and has wide gaps between leaves.)

5898ac19786a85851865c86da8856d43209f881c. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Jayson Home & Garden
This Chicago-based and online store sells pre-planted containers as well as separate pots and plants. This early edibles box is $130 including delivery, and includes parsley, lettuce, red mustard, and allyssum—it would do well in mild, sunny weather.

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This San Francisco store specializes in—you guessed it—succulents! They carry "all manners of succulents, large and small, unplanted or planted, as well as some airplants and bromeliads."

Find the Right Container

Most plants do best in a container that aerates the roots and allows for correct drainage. If the container doesn't have built-in drainage and aeration, you can lay rocks at the bottom. Herbs, arugula, and succulents like a shallow container with about 2-4 inches of high-quality compost soil, while tomatoes need a deep container that won't let the roots get soggy.

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This online catalog has a huge inventory of plants and containers for indoor or outdoor gardens. Their organic tomato success kit comes with a self-watering terra cotta planter (great if you're a beginner) as well as a tomato cage and soil for $70.

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With locations in Brooklyn and Chicago, this store focuses on urban container gardening—both indoors and outside. They carry a bunch of solutions for small-space gardeners, including wool Wally Pockets (starting at $40). Made of felt, it's a smart solution that provides aeration for roots, simple drainage, and looks cool to boot.

Tools that Help

To keep your garden thriving, use high-quality compost. Water regularly, and if you're a bad waterer, use a self-watering planter or a water stick to keep track of when your plants need a drink. A hand-held garden cultivator (or claw) is also helpful for gently turning over the topsoil every once in a while to get some oxygen into the roots.

c90ee61a9b95d774738eecb1e09b0fbb5aa19b45. w.94 h.71 s.centercrop Fifth Season Gardening Co.
With an extensive online shop and multiple locations in North Carolina and Virginia, Fifth Season is a good resource to bookmark. They carry tons of gardening tools, including compost, claws, and hard-to-find supplies.

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This Brooklyn-based store has a well curated selection of planters, tools, and supplies. They specialize in urban gardening and visitors report that the staff is knowledgeable and willing to help you find what works for you. They also have a lovely online shop.

To find an Apartment Therapy-reviewed garden store near you, click through the links below.

Boston Garden Stores
Chicago Garden Stores
Los Angeles Garden Stores
Online Garden Stores

Photo: brewbrooks licensed under Creative Commons

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