Container Gardening Planting

Unusual Container Planting

Containers, large pots and troughs planted with flowers make appealing decorations on patios, decking and paths. Attractive containers are widely available at reasonable prices, but if you are looking for a more distinctive look, here are some unusual alternatives. There is little that cannot be used as plant containers – the limits are your own imagination!

Basic requirements

The only essential requirement of a container is the ability to hold compost – enough to avoid drying out too quickly. Drainage holes are desirable to allow surplus water to escape and prevent water logging.

Unusual planters

  • Wicker baskets: As long as the basket is strong enough, any size will do. A plastic liner with drainage holes will make the basket last longer.
  • Zinc baths: These give an attractive alpine look. Be sure to put in plenty of drainage holes before filling with compost.
  • Painted wheelbarrows: These look good and have the advantage of easy portability.
  • Buckets: Add drainage holes a few inches above the base to provide a reservoir of water.
  • Large chimney pots: Make attractive rustic focal points.

From the kitchen

  • Teapot/kettle/jugs: It can be difficult to make drainage holes in these sorts of containers, so are best used for water plants.
  • Colander: Useful for plants requiring good drainage!
  • Milk bottles: Paint with an opaque paint to disguise the compost. As drilling holes in glass is difficult, water sparingly.
  • Egg cups: These can be a fun way of supplying fresh cress for your egg sandwiches!


  • Bin liners: Tie into a sausage shape and plant strawberries or bedding plants through the holes.
  • Old shoes or clogs: Plastic shoes are better than leather as the latter will go mouldy, and well-worn shoes should come with their own drainage holes!
  • Children’s toys: Try planting a plastic pram – useful for a first garden and can be taken for walks.
  • Bricks: Use one with three central holes, insert compost and plant with cacti.
  • Bidet/lavatory: Definitely for the more adventurous garden! Try planting with trailing plants to hide the container.
  • Cow sculls: Scrub out well before planting – cacti look good in these.

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