• peach coloured begonia cascades over terracotta pot

    Contained Pleasures – A Guide to Growing in Pots & Planters

    16th July 2012GeneralStephanie Donaldson

    peach coloured begonia cascades over terracotta pot

    I have to admit I have a serious (terracotta) pot habit. I keep trying to reduce the number I have in the garden – but they are just so useful. If a corner of the garden is looking a bit dull, or it’s a spot where the conditions aren’t right for planting in the ground, matters can generally be improved by the addition of a few pots. Anyone who has visited the wonderful gardens at Great Dixter will have seen a masterclass in the use of pots – ranged round the front door and in the nearby courtyard, this is pot arranging at its singing-and-dancing best. While I can’t aspire to Dixter-level showmanship, I am quite successful and have a few tips to pass on.

    • Use a 50/50 mix of multipurpose compost and John Innes No.2 – this is heavier, so it makes the pot more stable, holds moisture in dry weather and drains well in wet weather (unlike water retaining gels)
    • For tall plants or in windy locations choose straight-sided pots – they are much less likely to blow over
    • Unless they are a matched pair, groups of pots look better as odd numbers of 3s, 5s or even 7s in a variety of sizes
    • Mulch the surface with gravel, bark or slate – this retains moisture in dry weather and in the wet it stops the soil splashing the leaves
    • In the current very wet weather, it’s easier to protect vegetables grown in pots from slugs and snails
    • Avoid ‘fruit salad’ planting with lots of different colours in each pot – it’s seldom successful and tends to look messy
    • Liquid feed and deadhead regularly to ensure a long-lasting display
    • Long-term planting in containers needs to be top-dressed with compost or fish, blood and bone each spring
    • Don’t be afraid to copy a good idea – if you see something you like take a photo and find similar plants in the garden centre
    • Choose pots to complement your house and garden – nothing too sleek for a cottage garden and nothing too rustic for a contemporary garden

    arrangement of plant pots with supports

    [column width “30%” padding “4%”] [/column]I’ve been checking out the online retailers ranges of pots and am rather tempted by some of those on offer from  tesco. There are some really stylish terracotta pots as well as the Sankey Moroccan range which looks like terracotta or granite but is actually a sturdy plastic material called terracina. The prices are good too, so if you’re tempted to develop your own pot habit, this may be a good place to start.

    purple leave-foliage in tom tom