Container Gardening

Geraniums in Container
Geraniums in Container

Growing plants in containers is certainly not new, however with modern living focused on apartments and with gardens in courtyards and on balconies container gardening is really a practical solution to an old problem. Often seen as a solution for those with confined spaces, growing plants in containers can also be used a design feature.

Who is container gardening good for?

Just about every gardener grows some plants in containers or pots, sometimes for the looks, sometimes for the convenience. It also a favourite method for those ‘Special Plants’ that need extra care.

It is great for growing plants on patios and balconies, in courtyards and other areas where soil is not present.

Succulents growing in conatiners.
Succulents growing in containers.

This is also a great method of gardening for renter, you simply take your plants with you. And for seniors, this method of growing plants means that that they can be higher up, so no need to bend over.

A group of containers placed together can look great. Large urns placed either side of an entrance, garden path or steps can also work well. Or perhaps consider growing Buxus (box hedging) in a series of containers, it can be a very modern look.

We look at a simple guide to basic container gardening techniques with ideas for plants and selecting containers that will be suitable for growing vegetables, herbs, perennials, bulbs plants trees. And it is not only these sorts of plants you can grow in containers. A series of pots in a row can be used to grow a hedge, so box hedging in containers.

Why is Container Gardening so popular?

For those with limited space, people who are in rental properties and others who wish to create a ‘different gardening effect’ growing plants in pots, planters or containers provides a solution to many problems. It can also add height to the garden, or just be a place to grow those special plants.

Choosing the right container or pot

Plants grown this way require similar conditions to those growing in normal gardening conditions, (in the ground) the main requirements are appropriate soil conditions, space and a cool root run and the right amount of sunlight.

Hedging plants such as Buxus (box hedging) are well suited to container gardening.

The sunlight part of the equation is determined by position, the choice of container is important with other aspects. Consider the following points

Small containers tend to heat up and dry out more quickly than larger ones.
Containers used for gardening require adequate drainage and should not be placed in garden beds or patios without being raised above the ground. Drainage holes can easily be blocked.
Larger types can become very heavy when filled with potting soil and then watered, always make sure that any structure is strong enough to support the weight of a full container.

Growing Herbs in Containers

Some of the easiest plants to grow in containers are herbs, and they can be productive as well. If you like to cook them growing a few containers of fresh herbs is an excellent way to get that instant flavour of fresh herbs. Very similar to vegetables except that some herbs such as rosemary and thyme do not require as much water as others such as basil and parsley.

Vegetables in Containers

Vegetables are a very popular choice and plants such as, tomatoes, lettuce climbing beans and many other vegetable can easily be container grown.

Remember that vegetables generally require a large amount of fertiliser and regular watering. Many potting soils used will not have enough nutrients to promote and sustain strong growth so be prepared to fertilise your vegetables on a regular basis.

Containers tend to dry out more quickly than a normal garden, consider water saving techniques such as mulching the top and adding water saving additives to the soil used.

Can you grow trees in containers ?

Yes you can grow reasonably large trees in containers, we have seen Magnolia St Mary’s grow in large concrete containers outside a casino, and doing very well. It is probably not a long term solution given that a tree can last hundreds of years, but for smaller trees, it works.