Container gardening in the UK is becoming more and more popular as people appreciate the flexibility and extra growing space it provides. It’s not just about flowers, you can grow your own tasty produce right outside your door.
Growing in containers can come with their own challenges, which means if you want to succeed it’s important to plan ahead. Here are our container gardening ideas and top tips for success;
Location, location, location
Where you put your containers is the first thing you need to consider. Most plants need the sun to thrive well, so it’s important to choose a space that will get six hours or more of sun a day.
Placing them as close as possible to your house will mean you have easy access to your plants, which is great for harvesting and easy for you to take care of them.
Choose a sheltered spot for your plants so that they are protected from strong winds. Walls, fences or hedges will provide sufficient protection and window ledges are a great place for container gardening beginners to get started if you don’t have a garden.
Watering is the number one priority for containers as the plants won’t have access to moisture below ground. One a hot, sunny day plants can dry out within hours and may not recover from serious wilting. Give them a thorough watering, making sure you don’t just wet the surface but allowing the water to soak down into the roots.
Choosing the best containers
Containers come in all shapes, sizes and materials. Plastic and wood are the most tried and tested materials but you can use your creativity for the containers, but making sure that they are clean and won’t release harmful chemicals.
Large pots can also be used to grow pots that aren’t native to your area. For heat-loving plants like dwarf citrus trees, containers allow plants to be moved to warmer conservatory or greenhouse during winter months,l protecting them from the worst of winter weather.
If you have a wall which gets the warmth sun in the day, this will radiate the heat at night. It’s essential to provide good drainage, plants are easily killed if their roots are waterlogged. Make sure the containers have drainage holes and they are free from blockages. Adding a layer of stones or broken pottery to the base of the pot will help improve drainage. Fill the container with a purchased potting soil or your own compost.
This will need topping up each season to replenish nutrients which have been used up.
Top plants for containers
Tomato container gardening can be done in a variety of ways. You will need a good amount of soil to provide the right nutrients and many varieties can be grown in hanging baskets which look great as they trail towards the floor.
Other varieties can be grown in soil bags. Or, you can use large pots at least 10” in diameter. Make sure you use a stake and tie the plants it to keep them sturdy. Tomatoes are very thirsty so will need watering at least twice a day.
It doesn’t get any easier than growing salad leaves! You’ll need a shallow container a few inches deep. Choose an area that gets morning sunshine and afternoon shade.
Growing vegetables in containers is actually quite easy. Growing potatoes in containers can be done most effectively by using large pots or sacks. The seed potatoes are layered with potting mix and left in a sunny spot, watering as required. Keep adding soil around the top of the shoots, building it up over a few weeks until the top of the container is reached.
Many herbs such as basil, thyme and coriander can be grown in containers. Have a look at how to grow herbs, for an extensive guide to growing herbs at home.
Alternatively, if you want to find out more information about how to grow other vegetables and even fruit, look at out how to grow series which gives a step by step instructions for a variety of plants.