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Tips for Planting Your Veggies in a Container

Roberta Hopkins, Sacramento Master Gardener, wrote a tip list for planting with containers. Click here to see the complete list. 


  • Containers can be decorative or utilitarian or both!
  • Full pots are HEAVY, so plant pots in their final location to save yourself from having to move them later.
  • Metal pots are heat conductors and should not be used in the summer
  • Clay pots should be soaked in water for 5-10 minutes before planting in them, as they are more porous than glazed ceramic, wood or plastic and will dry out faster.
  • All pots need a drainage hole.
  • Use pots no smaller than 6″ across.


  • Stick your finger into the soil to test for moisture- if it is dry, it it time to water!
  • Frequent watering leaches nutrients our of the soil, so fertilize the plants with a balanced fertilizer about every 2 weeks
  • Plants in containers basically have their roots exposed so they dry out faster than plants in the ground, they need more frequent (slow and thorough) watering.
  • Use commercial potting mix, not gardening soil because gardening soil compacts in the pot, making it too difficult for the roots to reach water, air and nutrients.
  • Heat and dry air affect plants in containers more than those in the ground.
3 Steps for planting into a pot
  1. Fill the container with potting mix until you reach the depth of the plant container plus an extra 1-2 inches because once you water the mix the soil will settle. (See step 2.)
  2. Water thoroughly and let the mix settle.
  3. Place the plant in the container and water thoroughly again.

Recipe for Potting Mix

  • 2/3 cubic yard nitrogen stabilized ground bark, coir dust or peat moss
  • 1/3 cubic yard washed 20 grit sand
  • 6 lbs. 0-10-10 granular fertilizer
  • 10 lbs. dolomite

Mix all the ingredients together in a wheelbarrow. 

Containers can be decorative or utilitarian or both!


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