Have you ever tried doing something that you knew you did really well in the past, only to find out you are no longer good at it? That’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. I was once the queen of container gardening. I specialized in edibles and often made meals based on what I was growing. Now, I am ashamed to say my lanai garden is too scary to eat. There are little white flies on the kale, the mint is brown, the basil is yellow and the rosemary is covered in what looks like fur.

I’ve decided to start over this weekend. I’ll clean out the containers and refresh the soil, but this time I’m determined to get it right. I already have drainage holes punched into the bottoms of my containers, but there are a few more things I’ll need to consider:


Layer soil. Without proper drainage, plants can get more water than they should. Soil alone will become compacted over time. Line the bottom of the pot with rocks then alternate with layers of organic soil and cinder. You can also use potting soil with vermiculite.

Choose the right plants. Where do you plan on keeping your various containers? How much sun will they get? If they get daily sun, they’ll need daily water. If they are inside, think about bringing them outside every so often to give them some sun time.


Marry wisely. If you have a large pot or container and want to fill it with more than one plant, make sure to keep maintenance in mind when making pairings. Consider how much sun and water each plant needs, and ask the garden expert which ones thrive together.


Add marigolds. Not only will they add a nice pop of color, but these plants are also fairly easy to grow and will help keep white flies away.

Cut back. Pruning helps your plants to put their energy into healthy stems. Just as with water and sun requirements, pruning varies from plant to plant. Some herbs, such as oregano, should be pruned down to the ground once per year. Others, such as thyme or sage require periodic pruning year-round, cutting off dead or weak branches.

Consider your lifestyle when creating your garden, and don’t forget to have fun with it. Plant edibles you eat often, and spread the love. Trim extras and give them to your colleagues and friends, or even create a container just for them.