It’s all going to pot...our pick of the most striking garden containers

Posted 30 March 2015

There are many advantages to growing plants in containers, says our ‘Armchair Gardener’ Richenda Oldham. The biggest benefit undoubtedly is that you can move the plant to anywhere you choose, which is particularly useful if the plant needs shade or sun.

Choosing a pot or planter

You’ll be spoilt for choice when looking for a plant container. Make sure that whatever you choose is large enough for the plant and has a hole in the bottom to allow drainage. Pick a style that suits the style of your garden and check that any terracotta pots you pick are frost-proof. Although plastic containers are inexpensive and retain moisture, you will need to protect roots in the winter from freezing.

Bear in mind the final weight of a fully planted pot, which will be harder to move. If you are worried about being able to move your pots around, choose lightweight containers, such as resin, fibreglass and plastic, which are not so porous.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Glazed pots
  • Stone pots
  • Wooden tub planters
  • Zinc double handled troughs
  • Painted terracotta containers or pots
  • Galvanised metal pots
  • Concrete urns
  • Copper bowls
  • Ceramic pots
  • Wooden crates

Planting up

Choose your planting mix carefully, as it must be capable of holding water and yet porous enough to drain well. There are plenty of commercial multi-purpose potting mixes to choose from and you can improve them by adding water-retaining crystals, which provide water when the plant needs it.

Don’t use soil from the garden, as it can have weed seeds, insects and fungal diseases.

To prevent the compost from blocking the hole at the base of the pot, cover it with a layer of broken terracotta shards. You can also purchase terracotta feet to raise pots off the ground when you display them on a patio, which will aid drainage and stop moisture building up at the roots.

What to grow

You can grow a huge variety of plants in containers, including: bedding plants, shrubs, fruit, vegetables and even trees. Choose flowering bulbs and herbaceous perennials for spring. Grow tender perennials for summer displays, as well as hardy perennials such as lavender or climbers. For winter choose winter evergreen shrubs, bulbs, ferns or grasses.

Caring for your plants

Plants that are grown in containers will need frequent watering to prevent them drying out. You will also need to feed the soil as watering will wash the plant food away.

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