Pots, tubs, window boxes and other containers

Pots, Tubs, Containers

Pots, tubs and containers of all sorts are the mainstay of every patio display. They come in many sizes and shapes, including troughs and window boxes which can be positioned on any wall or fence, and not just below your windows.


Make sure the container has good drainage holes and add a layer of gravel or crocks (broken terracotta pots) to provide a better drainage layer if necessary. For large urns use polystyrene packing chips - they are lighter than crocks but just as effective. Line terracotta pots with plastic bags or similar to reduce water loss through the walls of the porous pots. Use a quality potting compost freshly purchased from your gardening retailer.

You should consider the size of plants you are growing and match them to the size of the tub, window box or container. The diagram on the right shows an optimal layout for a display in a large round container, note that taller plants are placed in the centre so not to dominate smaller plants. Follow this general rule for a great looking display.When growing annuals and other bedding plants, plant thickly from the start to produce an excellent display.

Lime-hating or acid-loving ericaceous plants, such as rhododendron, azalea, camellia and pieris, must be planted in a lime free, ericaceous compost such as Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Ericaceous Compost.


Some modern composts, such as Moisture Control Pots & Baskets Enriched Compost, contain slow-release plant foods that will feed your plants for up to six months. But most other composts will run out of steam and feeding will be necessary after five to six weeks if your plants are to flourish throughout the summer and autumn. To feed just once a season push All Purpose Continuous Release Plant Food Tablets into the compost to feed your plants for the next six months.

If you prefer to feed your plants regularly and want fantastic results use All Purpose Soluble Plant Food or a liquid concentrate such as All Purpose Concentrated Liquid Plant Food. Note that acid loving plants should be fed with a special ericaceous plant food.

Plants for pots and tubs

Fuchsia, Petunia, Verbena, Geranium, Impatiens, Lobelia, Tuberous Begonia, Bidens, Patio Roses, Lilies, Lavender, Salvia, Datura, Sweet Peas, PansiesColeus, Cineraria, Sage, Japanese Maples (acer)*, Pieris*, Euonymus, Skimmia, Ornamental Grasses, Ferns, HostaTomatoes, Runner Beans (Hestia), Dwarf French Beans, Sweet Peppers, Chilli Peppers, Lettuce, Peas, Herbs, Onions, Shallots, GarlicStrawberries, Midget Apple and Pear Trees, Fig, Citrus

*Plant in Ericaceous compost.

How much compost will I need?

Internal diameter measurement of patio pots and average contents in litres.

5 litres7 litres10 litres15 litres23 litres33 litres


Don’t forget that plants growing in containers will be more-or-less totally reliant on you to supply the right amount of water at the right time (see related articles).