How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips & Techniques

Course No. 9716
Melinda Myers,
Horticulturist and Certified Arborist
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3.7 out of 5
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52% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 9716
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Course Overview

Most of us don’t have the time, space, or energy to design and cultivate a large outdoor garden. So what should we do if we’re craving some homegrown fruits, vegetables, or herbs, or looking to add a colorful splash of flowers to a back deck or front porch? The answer is simple: container gardening.

Growing your own plants in containers is the perfect way to liven up a living space without much of the hassle associated with traditional gardening. With container gardens, you can

  • control and manage plants and flowers with ease,
  • add bursts of color and interest almost anywhere you like,
  • easily extend the planting season beyond your usual growing season, and
  • create warm and friendly environments that match specific occasions and events.

Perhaps the best part is that you can still plant anything in a container that you would in an in-ground garden: perennials, annuals, grasses, vegetables, fruits, and even trees. All it takes is an understanding of the essentials of container gardening, as well as access to some of the same design tips, tricks, and techniques that trained gardeners and landscape artists use to create unforgettable natural displays.

And all of this you can find in the six lessons of How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips and Techniques. Delivered by award-winning horticulturalist and master gardening educator Melinda Myers, this series gives you the essentials of container gardening and the expert know-how to grow practically anything you want in as small a space as you have available. In every lesson, you’ll be immersed in real situations that reveal ideas and solutions that will work for your container garden throughout the year.

Everything You Need for Great Container Gardens

Enjoyable, economical, inspiring, and a pleasure to watch, Container Gardening Tips and Techniques is perfect for gardeners at all levels of experience. Seasoned pros will find creative ideas for designing and planting container arrangements, and novices will get everything they need to know about this form of gardening.

Throughout these six lessons, you’ll learn the fundamentals of successful container gardening, including

  • the advantages of different containers (such as concrete, plastic, and glass) and how to make each of them work to your advantage;
  • the specific soil, light, and water requirements for some of the most common plants and flowers planted in containers; and
  • solutions to common problems and pitfalls related to container gardening, including the potting mix, pests, and shaded areas.

In each instance, you’ll learn how to create your own unique container gardens to fit a range of settings and space constraints, including patios, balconies, decks, and large lots. You’ll also see how container gardens can be used to create natural privacy barriers, liven up empty corners of interior spaces, and complement the theme of a party or special occasion.

Design Tips and Tricks from an Expert

Container Gardening Tips and Techniques comes packed with advice and tricks you’ll learn alongside a friendly expert. Here is just some of the insider information you’ll get with these lessons.

  • One easy way to design a container garden is the “thriller, spiller, and filler” technique. The “thriller” is your vertical accent, which creates a focal point in the garden. The “spiller” is a plant that cascades over the pot and anchors it to the container. And the “filler” ties both together to create a more professional look and feel.
  • To find out when it’s time to water your container garden, your finger is the best tool. Push it into the soil several inches; if the soil has the slightly moist consistency of a damp sponge, it’s time to water (cacti and drought-tolerant plants, of course, are allowed to go a bit drier).
  • What happens to your container gardens when winter comes? If you live in a mild climate, you can leave your containers out all winter long (just make sure to water thoroughly when the soil is dry). For those in colder areas, you can leave containers outdoors as long as they’re weather proof and can tolerate the freezing/thawing of the soil, and your plants are at least one to two climate zones hardier than the area you’re growing them in.

Whether taking you to homes to show you container gardening in action, guiding you through a popular garden center, or explaining the secrets of container gardens from our gardening studio, Ms. Myers elevates this course high above do-it-yourself gardening. With more than 300 kinds of plants shown or referred to, you’ll have an encyclopedic visual reference for countless ways to experience container gardening.

What’s more: Every minute of these engaging lessons, you’re in the hands of a master gardening educator. With more than 30 years of experience as a college professor, popular television and radio host, and prolific writer, Ms. Myers knows how to make container gardening fascinating and fun. You’ll quickly discover why she’s earned a wealth of recognition for her knowledge and teaching abilities, including the Garden Communicator of the Year Award from the American Nursery & Landscape Association and the American Horticultural Society’s B. Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Spring, summer, fall, winter—with How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips and Techniques you’ll have the skills, tips, and tricks you need to add a vibrant natural touch to any season.

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6 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Designs in a Pot—Thrillers, Spillers, Fillers
    There’s a lot to container gardening, but this session gives you the perfect starting point for creating your own wonderful gardens. Start with a detailed look at the varieties of containers out there (from improved plastics to concrete to self-watering) and how to find the right soil mix—or even make your own. Then, discover one of the keys to designing a powerful container garden—the “thriller, spiller, filler” method—and learn the right way to design with vibrant examples of different plant and flower combinations. x
  • 2
    Create a New Space—Edibles and Ornamentals
    Patios, small decks, fire escapes—whatever your space constraints, there are a wealth of container gardening ideas and designs you can enjoy. Taking you through several seasons, this lesson shows you how to take advantage of small spaces to blend ornamentals and edibles (such as tomatoes and blueberries) and come up with creative solutions for everyday gardening challenges, including color balance, climate restrictions, privacy with neighbors, and pest control. Adapt each of these techniques as your space allows! x
  • 3
    Unusual Pots, Vertical Spaces, Shade Design
    Ms. Myers shows you how to start thinking outside the traditional container with some unique ideas for making garden containers from a range of found or recycled items, including buckets, shoes, and teapots. Also, learn how to better choose specific plants and containers to decorate walls or fences that can be stubborn to plant around; find out what edible and decorative plants grow best in areas with limited light; develop a solid system for hanging pots; and get ideas for bringing the landscape right up to your back door. x
  • 4
    Grasses to Trees—Big Plants in Containers
    Large plants in large containers can offer perplexing design challenges when it comes to space, color, plant care, and privacy. Which trees, shrubs, and large ornamental grasses are right for your space? What are some tricks to designing with them and maintaining their health throughout the seasons? How can you effectively use large containers to screen bad views, create a focal point, provide a vertical accent, or create a living wall or border? Learn the answers to these and other questions here. x
  • 5
    Outdoor Living Areas and Special Features
    Start by learning how to approach outdoor seating and lounging areas from the gardener’s perspective and discover how to mix and match containers and plants to create the mood you want. Then, find out some tried-and-true ways to solve the pesky problems of common pests and plagues (from aphids to mosquitos to plant rot). Finally, dabble in the creation of eye-catching theme gardens, such as a tropical paradise (even in colder climates) and a miniature “fairy” garden kids will enjoy. x
  • 6
    Cool-Season Changes and Indoor Gardens
    It’s never too soon to start thinking about container gardening in cool-season weather. Here, Ms. Myers offers fantastic ideas for adding fall color to your outdoor container gardens and for taking care of your gardens during autumn and winter. She also shows you how to move your plants indoors or plant new indoor container gardens so you can enjoy your plants all year long. Plus, you’ll also find out how to create winter gardens for holiday parties that’ll stun your guests. x

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Your professor

Melinda Myers

About Your Professor

Melinda Myers
Horticulturist and Certified Arborist
Melinda Myers is a horticulturist, certified arborist, gardening expert, television/radio host, columnist, and author with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She earned her B.S. in Horticulture from The Ohio State University and her M.S. in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Before launching her own business in 2006, she was a tenured associate professor at the University of Wisconsin...
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How to Grow Anything: Container Gardening Tips & Techniques is rated 3.7 out of 5 by 39.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Grow Anything Containers Finally had a chance to look at this one. It is informative ,helpful. I got a nice list of various plants that I will be trying out as well. Thumbs up!
Date published: 2018-09-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It's very informative I haven't finished the course, however I have gained some new ideas.
Date published: 2018-08-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I bought this course and I am not too happy about it. The contents of the course are very poor. the professor could add more in hers video. so sorry!
Date published: 2018-06-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I was expecting. I have viewed all the modules of the course. I was disappointed because the lessons are heavily concentrated on the appearance of the plants. I was expecting to learn about how to keep the plants alive in a detailed scientific way, because the title is HOW TO GROW anything, not how to make your garden appear very pleasing.
Date published: 2017-12-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable, full of tips and great ideas. I can't wait to try some of her ideas for vertical gardening.
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear instructions, creative ideas So glad I found this on Great Courses website! Looking forward to the results of planting tips I learned.
Date published: 2017-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from easy to understand Not complicated at all. Learned much about subjects i bought.
Date published: 2017-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done! I live in the high desert of Nevada and do a great deal of container gardening. I found this series informative as well as entertaining. A few new ideas and confirmations of some old ones. Well worth the price.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting There is a lot of information and great ideas. I am really new to gardening so this is perfect and yes there are plenty of more advanced concepts. I love this course and happy that I brought it.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knows her subject Not only does she know her subject well but illustrates with live plants exactly how to go about doing the processes. Very inspiring!!!
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Practical and easy methods I bought this class as a follow-up on another garden class. Growing in containers is an easy solution for space and little kids who want to help
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The presenter sure knows her stuff--except how to pronounce foliage. It really should have 3 syllables!
Date published: 2016-10-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Glad I got it on sale. I was looking for the different ways to handle growing plants in pots as compared to gardening on a plot . Not much about the differences; mostly about the design and use of pots .
Date published: 2016-09-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Repetitive Display of Strange Plants in Pots While I can heartily recommend "How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening for Everyone", I am a bit disappointed with this set of lectures. After only viewing 3, so it could change, my impression of all three videos are of Ms. Meyers showing what plants she likes (unusual ones) and how she combined them in pots to arrange on a deck and a small patio. Our taste in plants are not the same. I would have liked some ideas about how to care for roses, dwarf citrus, herbs, vegetables ... etc. Not enough useful information such as soil selection for what plants, regular maintenance info - is pruning a good idea for container plants? - how much to water, etc.
Date published: 2016-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good from A to...M I'm a beginner with container gardening so this was really perfect. From the best containers to the right design elements to plant options...I liked the basics. Perhaps more experienced gardeners would feel it's too simple but it worked for me. The settings are pretty repetitive but the teacher knew her topic and was easy to listen to and watch.
Date published: 2016-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from View Before Starting Serious Container Gardening After viewing these lectures on container gardening I realize that it is as much work as gardening in the backyard if you want beautiful flowers (which you would since they would be indoors and in front of your face all day long). Ms Myers probably spent a lot of time on arranging of plants and flowers and landscaping ideas because of all the nitty gritty things that has to match including the container to the plant and to the indoor decor. Add that to the steps that you need to take to prevent excess water from getting onto the floor and making a mess. Container gardening for decorative plants equals "high maintenance." Perhaps food gardening would be worth the hassle?
Date published: 2015-05-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from don't recommend Must know too much. This was a waste of my time. She was lively, but didn't get enough for what I paid; my same thoughts on Best Garden for your Landscape. Won't buy anything of hers again.
Date published: 2015-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not what the title depicted was hoping for more on edible plants in containers, a little more technical would have been nice. it was more like a floral arrangement course than container growing
Date published: 2015-01-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from How to grow anything: Container Gardening Tips This course is not what I expected. I feel that the title is misleading. I wanted to learn about horticulture, disease control, plant problem clinic. This course feels like watching HGTV program. The instructor is engaging and upbeat; however, I expected more than just plants combinations, color, and organization of the containers. The information is very general.
Date published: 2014-11-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wish there was more about Gardening! I guess maybe I read into the title, but I was disappointed by this course. From a general landscaping with containers view this course is excellent. But as far as actual GARDENING - ie, tomatoes, okra, corn, etc...well this left a lot to be desired. The speaker is very engaging and upbeat, so as long as you are looking for general container principles and how to properly make a balanced presentation, etc. this will serve you well!
Date published: 2014-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good basic Information An enjoyable short course on container gardening that enables just about everyone to create, maintain and enjoy plantings from small pots on a window shelf to huge planters that sit on your porch or deck. Ms. Myers also notes basic problems that gardeners deal with - ranging from common pests to knowing when to feed plants. Different soil blends to various amounts of light needed and ending up with dealing with cooling weather conditions. One thing I did notice was that it became easy to get caught up in keeping track of which plants go with which in the first chapter - Fillers, Thrillers and Spillers. The objectve is - I believe - to not put these specific plants together but to use plants that are similar to the ones Ms. Myers uses to create a well-rounded presentation. You can tell that Ms. Myers is accustomed to being before the camera and conveying information in small bits of time which shows her familiarity with today's numerous television self-help shows. She is relaxed. She is definitely not afraid to get her hands dirty. Perhaps she tries to get too much information in these short clips but it is easy enough to review and listen again. Even the most experienced gardener could get a few tips from this course even if it just to see the oddest things to put a plant in.
Date published: 2013-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of Great Information I have been gardening in containers for years and learned a lot from this wonderful course. I always enjoy the "academic" courses offered by the Great Courses, however this course was a nice change of pace. I live in Florida and found that the professor's presentation was very relevant to all the different growing zones. This is a major accomplishment since the material was condensed. I appreciated the attention to design as well as plant upkeep and selection. The presentation on light needs of different types of plants was especially interesting to me, particularly what happens when a low light plant is exposed to too much light. I'm recommending this course to all of my gardening friends!
Date published: 2013-06-27
Date published: 2013-05-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from OK, not great I am enjoying this brief course and expect to use it on my terrace in Manhattan. The lecturer is knowledgeable and enthusiastic. She covered many topics. My complaint, however, is that this did not seem like Great Courses program, it seemed like a gardening show on cable TV. There was nothing "academic" about it at all; even some of the newer "Better Living" make an attempt to be academic, use some theory or some research or something to try to bring it to a "higher level." This detracted from GC reputation because you can learn about container gardening thru many sources. There was nothing distinctive here.
Date published: 2013-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great purchase! Learned a ton! This course covers a ton and the instructor is very knowledgeable. I just bought and watched both of the How to Grow anything DVDs and can't wait to start transforming my gardens.
Date published: 2013-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Ten pounds of Info in a five pound bag! Covers almost EVERYTHING. The instructor's talking speed has been honed to a razor's edge by many 5 minutes or less TV guest appearance soundbites. But she is still clear and easy to understand except for the names of plants - which are mercifully printed on the screen in most cases. Be ready to pause if you want to take any notes. This is a very well rounded course which shows some handy gadgets for specific applications, the new vertical wall plantings, fairy gardens, and some new varieties of plants. Each class rotates from the potting bench, to the deck, to the greenhouse-nursery, and some show the same containers a few weeks later as they fill in. There is also info on creative containers and their usability. If you add all these things to the regular expected subjects you will find the classes jam packed and be left wishing there had been more than six sessions so she could go into more detail on some special subjects, like the fairy gardens or vertical wall planters.
Date published: 2013-04-07
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