Plants can instantly make a backyard or bedroom more inviting. That being said, planters are crucial in keeping your favorite greenery alive and well. Whether you just bought a new plant or want to re-pot one you already own, we’ve picked out some of the best garden planters on the market. From a budget-friendly pick to a self-watering option, we scoured reviews and focused on essential factors like the material, style, and price to determine which recs—at the very least—are worth your consideration. Dive into our suggestions, ahead.
A terracotta planter is always the way to go. Our Afloral find for a cool $32 has a drainage hole and saucer—a simple, elegant combo. Display it in your outdoor garden over the summer and then, bring it inside to liven up your interiors during the colder months.
Forgetful plant parents should consider a self-watering planter. Featuring a wicker design, reviewers praise it for its sturdiness and versatility as it can be used anywhere. If you ask us, it’s a no-brainer buy that’ll make life a breeze.
A garden is like a community. Some members of that community live quietly next to each other, and others demand their own space. Some will even rob valuable nutrients from nearby neighbors. Make sure your companion plants happily coexist. Here are a few plants that don’t play well with others.
Beans are considered allelopathic plants, which means they produce biochemicals that can hinder the growth of another plant. Beans do not do well with members of the onion family, such as onion, leek, chives and garlic. Beans and carrots complement each other, giving each other nutrients that encourage growth. Carrots also help beans by attracting ladybugs that keep aphids from damaging leaves.
Tomatoes and Corn
Tomatoes and corn fight each other for soil nutrients if planted too close together. The tomato hornworm and certain types of fungus love corn and tomatoes, so separating the two prevents mass extinction of both. Tomatoes also don’t like cabbage or potatoes. Instead, pair with lettuce, which will be shaded and keep the soil moist for the water-loving tomatoes.
Potatoes and Sunflowers
One grows deep and the other rises high. However, they don’t get along because sunflower seeds contain a toxic ingredient that prevents potatoes from growing fully. Grow spinach for early harvest around the potato hills, before the potato plants need soil mounding.
Asparagus and Garlic
These two incompatible plants share the same need for nutrients in the soil, and asparagus is a real quitter if it can’t get everything it needs. Your best bet is to give asparagus its own bed with no competition. But if you must give it a friend, try parsley or dill.
Celery and Carrots
We often pair them on a vegetable platter, but these plants should avoid each other in the garden. Both need water and shade and seek a taller leafed-out companion like beans to keep the soil moist. Use thyme as a companion to celery, which will smother weeds and moisten the soil.
Eggplant and Fennel
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, and fennel produces a chemical that slows nightshade growth. Instead, choose bush beans as eggplant’s companion. Eggplant loves the nitrogen that the bush beans add to the soil. And the bush bean repels the Colorado potato beetle, which has a taste for eggplant.
Cucumber and Rosemary
The cucumber can take on the flavors of strong herbs, so keep rosemary, basil and sage away until blending them into a delicious salad in the kitchen. Allow cucumbers to vine by giving them a trellis, which helps them avoid rotting on moist soil.
Lettuce and Garlic
Poor garlic hinders many plants, including producing chemicals that wilts lettuce in place. Keep lettuce away from garlic’s cousins, too — onion, leeks and chives. Instead, plant lettuce next to that power pair of carrots and radishes. The shallow roots of quick-growing lettuce won’t disturb the root crops.
Parsnips and Carrots
These two root crops like the same growing conditions, but both are susceptible to the carrot root fly. So, it’s best to give them their own space, far from each other. Both plants would rather line up with radishes, as the little round radish grows quickly. Once the radishes are pulled, there is growing space between the longer-growing carrot or parsnip.
Pumpkins and Summer Squash
Pumpkins are aggressive garden plants. They can choke out summer squash such as zucchini that competes for water and space. Pumpkins will also cross-pollinate with other squash varieties, affecting your harvest. Pumpkins like to sprawl and snake up corn’s thick stalk. The two vegetables are harvested at different times, so they won’t compete for precious water in the late summer.
Kitchen scrap gardening saves you money on grocery bills and reduces waste. Regrow your kitchen waste into edible veggies and greens!
What Is Kitchen Scrap Gardening?
Kitchen scrap gardening is the ultimate in recycling. It’s environmentally friendly, can save on grocery bills, and it’s a fun, hands-on science lesson for young children.
Here are some of the best scraps to get growing. You’ll probably get better results if you start with high-quality organic produce since some non-organic produce is actually treated to prevent sprouting. Also, keep in mind the climate you live in will determine if and when plants started from scraps can be transferred to an outdoor garden.
A Few Things To Keep In Mind
Not everything will sprout. Check on your plants and if after a week you don’t see anything is happening, compost the scraps and try again.
Growing romaine lettuce from scraps is similar to growing green onions and celery. Cut off the lettuce you plan to eat and leave a couple of inches at the base. Place this romaine heart in water and new leaves will start to grow from the center. Remove outer leaves as they start to die. You can eventually plant your romaine in soil when the time is right.
Small potatoes can be planted whole. For large potatoes like bakers, cut into pieces making sure there are a couple of eyes on each piece. Allowing the pieces to dry out for a day or two may help prevent rotting. Plant the pieces in your garden or a container filled with well-drained potting mix and wait for them to sprout. In a few months, you should be able to dig up a whole bunch of new potatoes!
Basil, Cilantro, and Other Herbs
Re-growing herbs, such as basil and cilantro, is fairly easy to do. Cut a stem about four inches long, and place it into a glass of water. Be sure that the leaves are not submerged in the water. Place your stem in a bright area, but out of direct sunlight. In a few days, look for roots forming. Once these roots are about an inch long, go ahead and transplant them into some soil. In no time you will have your very own flourishing herb garden.
Regrow Vegetables From Seeds
Don’t stop with just scraps! You can also retrieve your own seeds from your food scraps in order to propagate. Rinse off the slimy, seedy insides of your organic tomatoes and allow them to dry thoroughly. Plant them in a container inside until sprouted to a few inches tall, when they can then be transplanted outside. Peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, and microgreens can all also be re-grown by salvaging their seeds. Turn those composting scraps into new, edible treasures.
Read about 9 more items to regrow by tapping the link below.
Welcome to winter. The days are short and cold, and if you enjoy plants like I do, hopefully, you have a few indoors to boost your mood. However, there is already light on the horizon. Spring will be here before you know it, and now is a wonderful time to plan out your new perennial gardens.
At the Red Oak Rain Garden in Urbana, the designers used a plant-centric, layered design approach during a 2019 garden renovation. Low-growing plants cover the ground, seasonal plants add a pop of color, and structural plants add height and form. Photo: Layne Knoche.
The days of planting individual plants and surrounding them in a traditional sea of mulch or rock are numbered. Instead, a design paradigm described in the book “Planting in a Post-Wild World” by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West is one that gardeners are flocking to. The innovative approach incorporates the concept of functional layers that form a complex yet organized landscape that reflects nature.
We need aesthetically beautiful gardens that also provide multiple ecosystem services such as water filtration and insect habitat. You cannot get that from most traditional landscapes. This design method works. We have used it successfully and beautifully at the Red Oak Rain Garden on the campus of University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and I have even used it in my own gardens.
Design in Layers
Be aware of layers when designing perennial gardens. Each layer has a selection of plant species that perform a specific function. When designing, it’s best to focus on these three layers: Groundcover, structural, and seasonal.
The Groundcover Layer
This layer typically consists of low-growing, densely planted grasses, sedges, ferns, and forbs that form a “green mulch” that serves to shade out weeds. Depending on the species chosen, these may be planted in groups of 10 or more and planted as little as 12 inches apart. As they fill in and mature, they protect from soil erosion, provide habitat for overwintering pollinators, and much more.
The Structural Layer
This layer consists of trees, larger shrubs, tall forbs, and grasses, or any other plant that has strong architectural forms. The plants in this layer form the “bones” of the garden that are visible year-round. Individual plants or small groupings – three or five, typically – are appropriate for this layer.
The Seasonal Layer
This layer features plant species that are visually dominant for a period. These are typically plants with showy blooms or textures. Larger groups and masses of plants in this layer can create stronger visual appeal.
Keep “right plant, right place” in mind. Know your site’s sun, moisture, and soil conditions, and choose species appropriate for your conditions.
Plan for seasonality. Make sure to include some spring ephemerals, summer bloomers, fall color, and winter visual interest.
Order early. Determine the species you want to use as early as possible, especially if you plan on ordering plants from an online nursery. The ship-to-home method has become increasingly popular over the past several years, so the earlier you place your order, the more likely you are to have luck with the species you want.
Designing perennial gardens is a fantastic way to spend a snowy gray day.
The Perennial Plant Association has named ‘American Gold Rush’ black-eyed Susan its Perennial Plant of the Year for 2023. A hybrid between several species of Rudbeckia, ‘American Gold Rush’ is an easy grower with a compact habit, long late-summer bloom time and foliage that stays healthy. This plant was also recognized as an outstanding perennial by the All-America Selections trialing program in 2020.
Common name: ‘American Gold Rush’ black-eyed Susan
Botanical name: Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Flowers: Daisy-like flowers appear atop upright stems from midsummer into autumn. The rays are a golden yellow and the cones, deep brown.
Foliage: Medium green, long and narrow, finely haired leaves form a basal clump of foliage. The leaves have shown good resistance to powdery mildew and leaf spot, which can be a problem for Black-eyed Susans.
Habit: ‘American Gold Rush’ grows about two feet tall and it can spread nearly twice as wide. It has a rounded, compact shape.
Origin: This cultivar was first discovered by Illinois-based perennial breeder Brent Horvath in a bed sown with open-pollinated seed. Horvath states it is a hybrid between two, or likely three, rudbeckia species, including R. fulgida var. deamii.
How to grow it: Site ‘American Gold Rush’ rudbeckia in full sun or part shade. It grows best in lean to average soil with good drainage. Avoid fertilizing, which can cause lanky growth amid rudbeckias. Water regularly while the plant is getting established, but thereafter it can tolerate dry periods. Leave seed heads standing for birds in the fall, then cut the plant back in late winter or early spring. This plant may reseed in the garden. USDA Zones 4–9.
Are you ready to plant your garden, but are feeling a little unsure of how to lay it out?
Well, it seems everyone faces that dilemma each year. The reason is that there are so many different ways to layout your garden.
Then you have to consider what your goal for your vegetable garden is. Do you want it to give some produce but also care about aesthetics? Are you more interested in getting the most produce possible from your garden?
After you decide what your primary goal for your vegetable garden is, then scroll through the vegetable garden plans I’ve gathered from all over the internet and see which options work the best for you.
Simple Vegetable Garden Plans
Here are the vegetable garden plans:
1. Raised Garden Bed Gardening Plans
These plans are amazing. The reason is that they take each raised garden bed into account and lay it all out to scale.
Then you can see that they incorporate the purpose of each vegetable as well. For instance, you’ll see they are growing multiple beds of tomatoes.
However, they label the tomatoes that are meant for sauce, the tomatoes meant for sandwiches (or slicers), and also incorporate the other vegetables they plan to grow in smaller amounts.
This is why this thorough layout would be a great place to start if you are planning on gardening in raised beds this year.
There are 18 more garden layouts to view by clicking the link below.
Appearing both modern and rustic at the same time, gabions provide an uncommon way to construct hardscape features in your garden that will last for decades to come. Gabion construction is a method used to build structural elements using rock without mortar.
The term “gabion” comes from an Italian word gabbione which simply means “big cage” Gabions can be made into square boxes, curved walls, pillars and more. Let’s check out some inspired landscape design ideas…
#4. Modern Planters
The image below features a fountain made with a small pump and a spillway fountain kit. The copper likely came from a rolled sheet of roofing material purchased from the home center.
#9. Raised Beds
Gabion ‘walls’ constructed for a raised bed typically will not need to be very thick since they are low to the ground and have some support once the inside is filled with soil.
I am not aware of any nationwide retailers that carry gabion cages but they are widely available online through a google search. Smaller cages that you can stack together to form walls and other features are sold on Amazon, Ebay, and even Etsy, as well as different shapes for making planters.
View all 12 gabion ideas by clicking the link below.
Don’t break your back with heavy outdoor planters filled to the brim with potting soil.
Cut the weight in half and improve drainage by packing the bottom third to half with lightweight packing peanuts. Cover the foam peanuts with landscape fabric and fill the rest of the way with your potting soil and plants.
There may not be a parenting road map to help you with tall, gangly teenagers, but I can help you with your tall, leggy seedlings- and a few of the other common indoor seed starting problems you might come across while tending your seeds from sprout to outside.
My seeds never germinate!
Germination problems can be caused by a variety of reasons. Some of the most common are:
Different seeds have different needs. Cool weather crops such as cabbage, kale or broccoli have a much lower germination temperature while warm weather crops like tomatoes will germinate better with temperatures in the 70F range.
If you are sprouting your seeds in a cool basement or outbuilding you may need to provide supplemental heat- such as a heating mat– to ensure germination.
When properly stored seeds can have a very long shelf life. But the older they get, your germination rate will begin to reduce.
For the longest life, store your seeds in a cold, dry place. Humidity and warmth will greatly reduce your seeds’ shelf life.
Water in a necessity for all plants. In the germination stage you need to make sure you keep the soil evenly moist.If you water too much, you run the risk of your seeds rotting before they germinate.
If you let them dry out, they will either never germinate or die trying!
I use a handheld pump sprayer to water my seeds- a few times a day sometimes.
When you plant your seeds pay attention to your planting depth. This is important because if planted too deep you plants could run out of energy before reaching sunlight. Planting too shallow can lead to drying out.
Some seeds actually need some light to germinate, so instead of digging them down you just press them into your soil. Read your seed packets for information on each seed so you know exactly what each seed type requires.
My seeds sprout and then die!
Everything starts off good. Your seeds germinate and you have little seedlings growing strong. Then all of a sudden they whither up and die! This is often called “dampening off”.
It can be prevented by using these seed starting practices:
Do not over water.
Too much moisture allows disease to grow and plants to mold. Once your seeds have germinated, water your seedlings only when the soil is beginning to dry out.
Watering from the bottom is best, but do not allow them to sit in standing water once they are done taking it in.
Do not overcrowd.
Your plants need room to breathe. A room with good airflow, as well as enough space between the plants will help them stay healthy.
Start with clean soil.
Oftentimes disease in seedlings is caused by disease that is laying dormant in your soil or in your seed starting pots. Wash your seed pots and trays each year before planting.
Consider buying a sterile soil if you have a major problem, that is not cured by the already mentioned steps.
You can also pasteurize your soil prior to use.
My seedlings are tall, thin, and leggy!
Legginess is a common problem in plants that are started indoors and it is caused by the seedlings having to compete and stretch for their light source.
Here are a couple of ways to reduce the tall, leggy appearance of your seedlings:
Rotate your trays.
If you are using a south facing window, make sure to rotate your plants a couple of times a day so that all plants have an equal time closest to the window.
Even if you are using an artificial grow light, rotating the plants within your trays is still a good idea so that all get equal time directly under the light.
Take advantage of warm, sunny days.
If you have a warm day, set your seedlings outside in a protected area for a few hours. They will benefit from the direct sunlight, as well as get a head start on the hardening off process.
Use a grow light in addition to your sunny window to ensure the optimum daylight length of 15-18 hours.
Thin out your seedlings.
The more crowded they are, the more they will have to compete for light.
Not knowing my sun pattern was an expensive gardening mistake. I could have avoided this if I had made a sun map of my garden way back in the beginning.
Had I made a sun map of my property and then chosen a spot for my garden based on that, I’d have much better harvests from my garden because I’d be able to plant more efficiently!
Even if you already have a garden plot that your sticking with, a sun map can help you plan your garden so it makes more sense.
It’s super easy to make a sun map and once you have one it makes garden planning much simpler.
There are a few different methods you can use:
Write it down: Draw a map of your garden, or yard and write down when the sun first hits each area. Take notes every hour for a full day. If it’s an area that goes back into shade as the day progresses, write that time down also.
Photos: Pictures are an excellent way to track the sun’s movement across your garden/property. Take a picture of your yard or garden every hour starting with sunrise. Take the photos from the same exact spot each time. You’ll be able to compare all the photos and see how many hours of sunlight each section gets.
This is a great method because it makes it easy to flip back through the images and see patterns you may not have thought to write down in the above method.
OFF SEASON SUN MAPPING
Of course, if it’s not the growing season when you’re doing this your calculations are going to be slightly off. You’ll need a sun calculator or estimator for now.
Apps: There are several apps that can track sunlight for you. Sun Surveyor can help you to track the sun over the area you chose. Sun Locator lite and Sun Seeker – Sunrise Sunset Tracker are both great for gardeners. There are dozens of free apps to choose from just hit up your play or apple store.
Sun calculator: Use an online Sun Calculator to map the sun over your garden. SunCalc.org is one that I like. Just pick your location on the map, change the date and time and it will calculate where the sun will be in the sky.
I was looking to plant at the front of my house, I would advance the time until the sun line clears the house and use that to determine how many hours of sunlight that area gets.
This is an awesome tool if you’re planting in an area for the first time, just moved etc.
Of course, as the months change the sun’s angle will be changing slightly, so you’ll also want to check that against your projected harvest dates to make sure that something like a house won’t be in the way 3 months from now.
The closer you live to the equator the less of an angle the sun will have in winter, but I’m pretty far away up here in Pennsylvania.
This can also come in handy when deciding where to put a greenhouse or sunroom.
Of course, all the estimates and calculations pale in comparison to actually experiencing gardening in your particular spot. Logic says a garden in front of a 30-foot tree will be in shade longer than one by a 10-foot tree, but how does that translate to your trees?
Plan your garden using these estimates now, then as the growing season progresses take note of any adjustments that need to be made for next year.
While I do still make mistakes with my plant placement, since I started sun mapping my garden it’s much easier to find the right spot for each plant!