Whether you have an expansive garden of floral delights, or a high-rise balcony with barely enough room to swing a trowel, your outdoor space can benefit by the addition of a few carefully chosen growing containers. From fruit and veg to bushes and trees, or showy displays of seasonal colour, the range of planting options is only as limited as your imagination.
Before taking the plunge on a new pot there are a few things you need to consider, besides how it looks in your chosen space. First, make sure your new pot is larger than any pot its chosen occupant already lives in to allow roots to spread further afield. Check to see if your plants require good drainage (most do) and make sure the pot is suitably holey (for some, this may require a drill). For large containers, adding bits of broken old pots, gravel or even parcel-packing polystyrene, will further help excess water find an easier escape route. And before you fill with compost, make sure to check your plant's soil requirements first. In fact, one of the advantages of pots is the ability to be able to grow plants that are unsuitable for your garden – if you've always fancied growing blueberries but have lime in your soil, a large pot filled with ericaceous compost could be the answer.
Just like plants, some pots don't like freezing cold winters, so if you anticipate Arctic conditions then make sure your pots are frost-proof, or pop them in a greenhouse during sub-zero spells.
To help with the decision-making process, we’ve put together an edit of pots, troughs, baskets and trugs, with a few suggestions as to how you might plant them up.
1. Moroccan Deep Blue Terracotta Planter: £19.99, Homebase
Recreate the serenity of a riad courtyard with this magnificent Moroccan styled pot, trimmed in vivid sky blue to brighten the mood on even the greyest British day. Suitable inside or out, you can complete the look with a striking palm or citrus tree.
2. Beepot concrete planter: £45, Green & Blue
Hand made in Cornwall from concrete, this arty planter is peppered with holes to encourage solitary bees to take up residence. Place a pollen-packed plant such as lavenders, sedums or flowering herbs like thyme and marjoram in the room next door and you’ve got the classiest rent-free B&B for bees.
3. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Long Tom Pot: £30, The Orchard Home and Gifts
Long Toms are tall, slender pots originally conceived to allow tomato plants sufficient depth in which to plunge their thirsty roots throughout summer. Glazed in soft contemporary hues, and given an approving seal of the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, reserve this pot for your handsomest tomatoes or finest ornamental plant. Just be sure to protect pot and plant during frostier weather.
4. Veg Trug small patio planter: £99.99, Marshalls Seeds
Hardwearing, sturdy and stylish, this wooden trug will keep you in healthy veg for years. Solid legs support a V-shaped trough, catering for long and short roots, and permits waist-high gardening, thus avoiding the need to overstretch any creaky knees or dodgy backs.
5. Growing Pot of Fun – Sunflower: £8.95, Little Pals
Pots are the perfect way to propagate tiny green fingers, especially if the reward is a beaming yellow sunflower. With painted butterfly marker, tray, compost and seeds, the future Monty Dons and Alys Fowlers are well catered for.
6. Cascadino self-watering hanging planter: £29.98, Lechuza
Although popular in Europe, UK gardeners have yet to fully catch on to the miracle of self-watering pots. Beneath the external planting pockets lies a canny sub-irrigation system, giving your watering can up to twelve weeks off per fill.
7. Zinc kitchen herb planter: £22.99, Primrose
Ideal for the urban gardener, this durable zinc-coated trough adds a touch of finesse to a balcony, yard or decking area. The sleek black exterior will hold firm through the worst of the weather and provide a stylishly sharp contrast to its leafy inhabitants.
8. Round railing pot: £7.99, Crocus
Made from tough weatherproof resin, this bright, U-shaped planter fits snugly over railings, with a locking bar keeping it securely in place. Pot up with seasonal flowers and add a dash of colour to even the drabbest city environments.
9. Hardwood square planter – large: £46.99, Gardening Naturally
These slatted hardwood traditional planters come in a choice of two cool greys to bring an architectural sophistication to your outside space. Constructed from solid acacia, flatpacked and easy to assemble, they’re soon ready to show off your boldest blooms or most meticulously manicured topiary.
10. Strawberry planter: £12, Wilko
Strawberry pots allow for multiple plants of the nation’s favourite fruit to temptingly tumble from its antique terracotta style curves. But this bargain pot isn’t just for summer fun; a whole range of flowers such as primroses, pansies or petunias will be equally at home among its soil-filled crevices.
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