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.
Timing is everything! Summer containers should be planted from April onwards but need to be protected from frost until end of May by using fibre fleece or fleece jacket. Winter containers should be planted in the months of September and October. Herbs are best sown/planted between April and July.
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 (a lot of plants come in polystyrene containers so this is a perfect re-use for them). 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.
If the container is going to be viewed from all directions, taller plants and shrubs are better planted in the centre of containers with smaller plants surrounding them.
If the container is to be placed against a wall, taller plants and shrubs should be placed at the back of the container, with smaller plants at the front.
If using trailing plants, position these around the edges so that they can cascade down the container.
Lime-hating or acid-loving ericaceous plants, such as rhododendron, azalea, camellia and pieris, must be planted in a lime free, ericaceous compost.
|Fuchsia, Petunia, Verbena, Geranium, Impatiens, Lobelia, Tuberous Begonia, Bidens, Patio Roses, Lilies, Lavender, Salvia, Datura, Sweet Peas, Pansies||Coleus, Cineraria, Sage, Japanese Maples (acer)*, Pieris*, Euonymus, Skimmia, Ornamental Grasses, Ferns, Hosta||Tomatoes, Runner Beans (Hestia), Dwarf French Beans, Sweet Peppers, Chilli Peppers, Lettuce, Peas, Herbs, Onions, Shallots, Garlic||Strawberries, Midget Apple and Pear Trees, Fig, Citrus|
*Plant in Ericaceous compost.
Internal diameter measurement of patio pots and average contents in litres.
|5 litres||7 litres||10 litres||15 litres||23 litres||33 litres|
Some modern composts, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost for Pots & Baskets, 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 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, then use soluble plant food such as Miracle-Gro Soluble Plant Food or Miracle-Gro Liquid Concentrate. Note that acid loving plants should be fed with a special ericaceous plant food.
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).