Container gardening has never been more popular. Increasingly, we’re seeing our patios and decks as extra “rooms”, where we can entertain or relax. Pots and containers are the perfect way to decorate these exterior living spaces. Flexible and relatively low-maintenance, there’s a style to suit every garden and a price to match every budget!
- Mix pellets of slow-release fertiliser into the compost when you plant up your containers. The pellets will feed your plants for around six months.
- If you can, fill and plant your containers when they’re in their final position. Once they’re full of compost, they’re very heavy to move around!
The Right Choice
Choosing a container is quite a challenge: there are so many on offer. You’ll have more success if you start by deciding where you want the container to be and what sort of display you’re aiming for. That way, you’ll have an idea of what you’re after when you start looking. Generally speaking, go for as wide and as deep a pot as you can, to give your plants as much room as possible. Standing containers on feet will help prevent water logging.
For more advice, see Container Planting.
John Innes Number 2 soil-based compost is a good choice for larger plants and shrubs that need the extra weight for stability. In areas where weight is an issue (balconies and roof terraces, for example), opt for peat-free, multi-purpose compost. There’s a huge variety of plants on offer to provide year-round interest. One planting strategy for larger containers is to anchor the arrangement with a perennial, changing the other plants as the seasons dictate.
Hanging baskets make a great summer display but you won’t get the best out of them if you site them somewhere shaded. Traditionally, sphagnum moss was used to line baskets but we should avoid using it now, as supplies need to be conserved. Garden centres sell a variety of alternatives.
For more on this subject, see Hanging Baskets.
Arranging your containers in groups will give them far more impact than dotting them around a patio. Grouping pots of different heights together will increase the visual interest still further. Don’t feel obliged to stick to traditional containers like pots and troughs. All sorts of objects can be re-purposed as containers, including wheelbarrows, buckets, sinks and chimney pots.
See Unusual Container Planting for more off-beat ways to accommodate your plants.