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Tips for Perfectly Planting a Planter

How to Plant in Planter Pots the Right Way

If you’ve ever dreamed of cultivating your own urban garden, or had visions of gorgeous pots full of blooming flowers adding pops of color to your patio, only to try (and fail) at being a container gardener, don’t despair. Not everyone was born with a green thumb, but there are ways to develop one. It all starts with knowing which crops are best suited to be planted in pots and planters, and the amount of sunlight and water each different type of plant needs. If you are ready to give up on your wilting container garden, don’t throw in that towel just yet. We’re here to enlighten you and provide some pro tips on the best way to make your patio garden grow.

Container Gardening 


Whether you are interested in growing several crops at once or planting a tree or a singular plant like grasses, you may enjoy the options and beauty that container gardening can offer. By grouping pots or planters together, you can create your own urban garden right on your patio or rooftop. It is essential that you choose the right size and type of container for the crops you wish to grow. For example, if you plan to grow vegetables such as cucumbers, summer squash or tomatoes, you will need a pot that is at least 24 inches in diameter. For smaller veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower or greens, an 18-inch diameter pot will do. If space is limited, consider growing herbs, strawberries, or lettuce, which all only require a 10-inch diameter pot for each.

In addition to the size of your planters, you must consider the shape and depth of the containers. Plants like lettuce, which have shallow roots, flourish in containers that are wider than they are tall. Meanwhile, broad, deep planters are best for plants such as zucchini or pumpkin. For your bigger plants like tomatoes or squash, consider a larger round or rectangular planters as both an ideal planting option and a bold decorating choice.

With the right size and shape of planter, your container garden will thrive.

Know Your Planters

Not all planters are created equal. While clay pots and plastic pots abound in usage, many types of planters can successfully grow your edibles and plants if you do it right. Certainly, an urban garden can include a collection of fiberglass planters, plastic planters, clay pots, etc. When you choose the type of planters you wish to use for your urban container garden, it is best to think of the aesthetics of your choice as well as whether your chosen crops do well in a planter. As this informative blog post from The Micro Gardner outlines, each type of planter has its pros and cons. Here is a breakdown of the most popular planter choices.

Clay Pots

Terracotta pots, as well as glazed clay pots, are among the most traditional planters that urban gardeners select for their potted plants. The porous quality of clay, as well as its natural ability to retain heat, can be ideal or downright deadly for your plants and flowers, depending on your climate and watering habits. The thick walls of a clay pot protect the roots of your plants from extreme temperature changes, and also don’t blow over as easily as more lightweight pots, though they are extremely breakable if knocked over or hit, and can crack during the winter if they aren’t draining well. Because of its porous composition, clay pots are a good choice for those who tend to over-water, as the pots drain well and wick moisture from potting soil.

The best plants to use clay pots for are those that thrive in a well-drained, dry soil, such as cacti. Clay pots are a decorative and beautiful choice for indoor or outdoor plants, and work well in patio settings, as well as on front porches.

Wooden Pots

The natural beauty of wood works well with any setting and décor. Not only that, but wooden planters are often designed with slats in them that are ideal for proper drainage. Wooden pots are a popular choice among urban gardeners and are praised for being durable and able to withstand several planting seasons. One drawback to wooden containers is that they are very heavy and hard to move, which shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t planning on relocating your container garden any time soon. In rainier climates, wooden pots tend to rot and have a limited lifespan. Here is a great article from SFGate about how to prime your wooden planters for planting.

Concrete Pots

A very durable planter option, concrete pots are also the heaviest, so make sure they will be designated a permanent spot in your garden. Concrete pots, especially the larger sizes, can be on the pricey side of things, but are built to last, making them a good investment for your urban garden.

Plastic Containers

If your watering style can be best described as “whenever I remember,” you may wish to opt for plastic containers for your urban garden. A less expensive option, however there are limits on how large you can go. Because plastic pots don’t drain as thoroughly as clay pots, they retain more water in the potting soil, making less frequent watering a must. Other advantages to plastic containers include ease of transplantation, and lightweight composition. On the downside, plastic pots lack a certain aesthetic quality that clay pots and other decorative planters possess, and can look rather cheap and flimsy compared to their more substantial counterparts. Plastic pots can crack during the winter months. However, one option is to put your plastic pots into a second, more decorative container for visual appeal.

Upcycled Planters

When it comes right down to it, anything that holds something could potentially be used as a planter. However, some containers work better than others for growing potted plants. If you choose to plant your container garden in something quirky and unique, make sure it still fits all the requirements for heat retention, drainage, size, shape and depth for whatever you’re planting. Barrels are a popular choice of alternative planter, and work quite well for plants such as tomatoes. Also, galvanized metal boxes are a trendy option that lend an urban feel to your project. Here is a great photo gallery of fun upcycled planter trends from Country Living.

And, remember, you can use more than one material of planters if you can create a theme or design that works. Starting with your largest container is very helpful in creating a design that works, so you don’t end up with 20 small round pots cluttering your area.

Fibreglass & Resin Composite planters

oval fiberglass planter

These materials offer a lot of stylish options in shapes that are very lightweight. Fiberglass and resin composites are made from creating a mold, so the types of shapes and textures, are limitless. There are a variety of sizes available from average to really large, and custom shapes and sizes are possible. Resilient and durable, this material can manage the summer and winter climate with proper planting which allows good drainage. Fiberglass and resin planters are non-leaching so they are safe for edible gardening.

See these tips and care information: Tips and Care for plant pots 

This material is fast emerging as an aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, and high quality option for planters that also offers some insulation for plants. However, if there are concerns, there are ways of creating increased insulation in a planter.


Stainless Steel & Aluminum planters

Metal offers a great look and is unbreakable. This material tends to be one of the most expensive, however is highly durable. Metal does conduct heat and cold, so creating insulation in the planter is recommended depending on the local climate. Shapes are sleek, and sizes vary from average to quite large. Custom shapes and sizes are possible.

Planting Basics

Homegrown eggplant! Get ready for some yummy eggplant pakoras!

Once you have determined which crops you want to grow and which planters you will use, the final step is the actual planting process. You may feel that this is a basic skill that everyone knows how to do from kindergarten, but there is a great deal of art and science to proper planting, and mastering it can make or break your gardening game. Urban gardeners, pay attention, because here comes Planting 101.

  • Each plant comes with its own guidelines. Growing rosemary is not the same as growing radicchio, and so on. Before planting your crops, make sure to hit the Internet for some research on the exact sunlight and water ratios your specific crops will need, as well as other essential information such as depth and spacing of seeds, germination time, and other environmental factors you may need to be aware of.
  • Now that you’ve picked out your seeds, you need to arrange the planters in the order you want them to grow. For instance, if you want to group all your herbs together and have another section for your vegetables, line up the pots where you want them to go. This will not only allow you to visualize the finished product in your mind’s eye, but also ensure that you have the right sizes and types of pots before you start filling them with soil.
  • For all plants, make sure to start with a good potting soil. Container gardening requires a different kind of soil than the kind you would fertilize the yard with. Look for a “potting mix” or “potting soil,” which is made from composted bark, peat moss and other essential nutrients and ingredients that do not contain the soil you find in the ground. According to this helpful blog from Bonnie Plants, an ideal potting soil is fluffy in texture, locks in moisture, and provides a healthy balance of air, moisture, nutrients, and anchorage.
  • Follow the guidelines on the seed packet or your Internet research to properly plant the seeds for each crop. Carefully mind the spacing and depth when you are sowing the seeds, or they may become impacted and unable to sprout. Begin planting in the center of the pot and work outward, and make sure that the soil level stays 1-2 inches below the lip of the planter. This handy article from This Old House recommends the use of broken terra-cotta pot shards or Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom half of taller planters when you are planting crops with shallow roots.
  • Water often- whenever the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface- and make sure to fertilize regularly, using the directions on the fertilizer package as guidelines. Your container garden should begin to grow and flourish in no time!

Thinking of starting your very own urban container garden?

Atlas Pots has what you need to get started. We are North Vancouver’s solution to all your planting needs. We have a wide variety of planters and pots to fit every décor style and budget, and can assist you with finding the exact sizes and dimensions of planters you need. Atlas Pots is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, so we know a thing or two about what you need to create the perfect outdoor space.

Let Atlas Pots help you turn your container garden dream into a thriving reality. Contact us today, visit our North Vancouver gallery, or shop online for the pots, planters, and containers you need to make your outdoor space come alive.