Container Gardening

by David Murray

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a garden, by which I mean an area of bare earth, but most people have at least a small amount of space where plants can be grown in containers of various types and sizes. It may be a balcony or a patio, a small paved yard, a wall top of a window ledge. All these, not to mention vertical wall spaces, can be filled with colour.

You may choose to fill your container garden with annuals from seed or seedlings and change them every year, or to design for the longer term with perennials of many kinds. You can experiment with different colour mixes, and also with combinations of different size and form, using some as background to the others. If you want colour for many months you can gradually during the summer replace pots containing early flowering plants with some in which you’ve planted later flowering varieties so as to maintain interest around the season.

What containers, and where to put them?

Container Gardening - Fuchsia Beacon

What about the containers themselves? Well, provided there’s a drainage outlet in the base you can use just about anything. And that’s one of the attractions of container gardening, being able to improvise. I like to use terracotta pots for the bulk of my displays but you do have to remember that they lose moisture much faster than glazed pots and therefore need more regular watering. They also soak up water from damp compost so make sure you soak them well in a tub of water before planting anything in them.

Not all patio or paved yard areas get a lot of sun. If yours does then you’ll be able to grow a wide range of colourful spring and summer flowers. Shady areas, though, call for a different approach. Shade-loving plants tend on the whole to be less colourful but the enormous variety within the colour green, combined with a vast array of shapes and textures, make it possible to create very interesting displays. Why not try some hostas; they come in very different sizes.

What about other places? A pot by your front door can give a warm welcome to a visitor, but make it bold enough to be noticed. In some areas it may be necessary to have a pot so large that it can’t easily be carried away, but in more secure neighbourhoods you could use a group of pots of different sizes {preferably in groups of odd, not even, numbers) combining upright and trailing plants. Make a statement. Make the display spectacular.

… and here’s Alan Titchmarsh

Here’s Alan’s book: How to Garden: Container Gardening

Container gardening with vegetables

So far I’ve only referred to flower and green foliage planting but how about a container-based vegetable garden? Tomatoes grown in containers are an annual feature of many patio gardens, and potatoes can be grown in large plastic bags as well as in more solid containers. Last year I got some good onions from growing them singly in a massed array of 6-inch plastic pots in a large tray placed on an old table against a sunny wall. It’s so easy, also, to grow a selection of herbs in pots on a stand or a windowsill just outside the kitchen door.

Don’t allow your lack of a bare-earth garden to stop you from growing your unique display of container-grown plants, whether for flowers, foliage or food. With a little imagination and experimentation you’ll soon have a container garden that others will envy.

Container gardening supplies


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