Apartment Container Gardening


Let’s dive in for some tips on how to do apartment container gardening. Garden wherever you are! You don’t need acres of land to grow your own food.

apartment container garden with black pots

I used to be under the illusion that I couldn’t create my dream garden until we were able to buy a home with a yard. At the time we were living in an apartment with a small balcony. In fact we had been living in apartments for almost 8 years.

I finally decided that I was going to dive into gardening, even though we lived in an apartment. Boy was I glad I did! It enriched my life tremendously. I made many mistakes and didn’t have a lot of success my first year. But I continued to experiment on ways that I could improve my garden.

Now I get to pass my knowledge on to you and I hope you find as much joy from apartment gardening as I did!

Can you grow a container garden on your apartment balcony?

girl holding green container with plant in it while standing on a apartment balcony
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Yes you can! The only thing that would prevent something from growing on your apartment balcony would be if it didn’t receive any direct sun. Most garden plants require 4-8 hours of DIRECT sun to do well. Our apartment balcony received just over 4 hours and was fine.

If your apartment balcony is getting more like 2-4 hours of direct sun click HERE for a list of plants that grow well in partial sun. You can always grow something!

What can you grow in your apartment container garden?

You can grow a variety of plants in containers. There are a few things to consider when picking out your plants. One is the size of your balcony. If you are limited on space, you won’t want to grow something like a watermelon or pumpkin.

When picking out your plant or seeds, read on the container or packet on how big they will get. Some seed companies like Johnny Seeds will say if the plant would do well in a container. Just click on the plant you’re interested in and the description will tell you.

You can also order dwarf variety plants. When I did my apartment balcony garden I purchased dwarf tomato, cucumber, and sunflower plants. They produced the same amount of veggies, but on a stockier, shorter plant. The sunflower plants were like a cute little bush and were a favorite with the kids.

small cucumber growing in a container with a yellow flower
A little cucumber beginning to grow. Our entire family was so excited to see this little guy!

How deep should your container be?

Your container should be at least 6-8 inches deep. A typical planting pot will be a little deeper than that. You can go much bigger and deeper if you have the space to do so, but it isn’t necessary. When we imagine growing a plant in a pot we often compare it to a plant growing in the ground.

But in-ground plants have access to more dirt and more nutrients. Because of this, they don’t need to be “fed” as often. For in-ground plants, I usually put compost in the garden in the spring and that covers the needs of the plant for the year. What I learned from container gardening is that the plants will simply need to be “fed” more frequently.

The best and most cost effective way to fertilize/feed my container plants was by using fish emulsion fertilizer. This is only 10 bucks for the whole bottle which lasts a few seasons. You pour 1 tablespoon of the fish emulsion in 1 gallon of water. I just used an old milk jug and would shake it up in there. Water your plants with the fish emulsion once a month after the plants have been growing for about three to four weeks.

salad greens growing in a container on a apartment balcony garden
I got this idea to grow salad greens like this from Roots n Refuge farm.

How do you start your apartment container garden?

Gather containers if you don’t already have them. A lot of times you can get cheap or free containers on Facebook Marketplace. Just make sure that the container can handle being wet and has drainage holes. These holes can be added to your container if it doesn’t already have them.

Pick up soil. I would suggest a combination of organic potting mix and organic compost. Brand doesn’t matter in my opinion. The combination of compost and potting mix should provide the right nutrients and also light and fluffy soil, perfect for containers.

Fill your containers about 2 inches below the tip of the container. the soil will sink a little bit. Decide how many plants you can fit in your container. Usually on the seed packet or plant label it will say how much space the plant needs. Sometimes you can get away with planting them closer than suggested.

How to water container gardens

Water the containers really well when first planting. If you are planting seeds, you will want the soil constantly wet until the seeds begin to sprout. After that, you can water them less. Container gardens tend to dry out more quickly than in-ground gardens and will need to be watered every two to three days during the hottest part of the year.

container garden on apartment balcony near kid table

You can always check if the plant needs more water by poking your finger in the soil. If it is a little damp then you can wait another day. Some plants will specify that they don’t like to be over watered. This just means that you can let the soil dry out for a day before watering. I’d say that most plants can handle having dry soil for a day. Just watch for wilting leaves, it may be a sign of needing more water.

Place your containers in the sunniest spot on your apartment balcony or window. Fertilize them in about four weeks as mentioned above. Something I noticed was that I had less pests in my apartment garden, but if you do notice any caterpillars or aphids on your plants, quickly remove them.

Now get started! You have nothing to lose, really getting started is the hardest part. Soon you’ll be hooked on container gardening! Go ahead and pin this post for future reference or comment below with further questions you may have.

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