Best ways to pot around with plants
The trouble with pots is that they dry out.
To garden in pots requires a commitment the ground-gardener does not need.
Pot plants need almost constant watering, fertilising and more watering.
During a hot and dry summer, is growing plants in pots the best way to conserve water?
A collection of dried and wizened plants at the front door is not a good look and for feng shui enthusiasts it is not a healthy entranceway to your home.
So what to do? Fortunately, there are many ways to produce lush and bountiful plants grown in pots, given the amount of helpers available, such as slow-release fertilisers, moisture-holding products and watering systems.
Hanging baskets let you enjoy gardening at eye level and can beautify a dowdy patio corner or brighten a blank wall.
Plants can be grown in many sorts of containers which can be placed at a suitable height for those who find it difficult to reach down to ground level.
Weeds are also easily taken care of in a confined space such as a pot or basket.
If it is the plant you want to shine, instead of the pot, then choose a plain pot such as terracotta.
These are classically popular pots, useful not just in the garden, but in the kitchen as bread-baking containers or storage containers elsewhere in the home.
Terracotta pots have the advantage of letting excess water out through their porous sides, but the converse is also true that they dry out more quickly than plastic pots.
One way to prevent this, if you are growing non-edible plants, is to line the pot with a plastic bag, ensuring you have poked holes in the bottom for drainage first, or simply slip a plastic pot into the clay pot, with the plant growth disguising the fact.
Because of moisture escaping, if the clay pot is kept moist, moulds and algae can form on the outside of it, so a yearly clean with bleach is usually recommended by manufacturers.
Glazed clay pots hold moisture much more effectively.
However, plant roots are able to breathe better in a clay pot and do not heat up as much as a darker-coloured plastic container.
If a bright pot is required in your garden, then most plastic or terracotta pots are easily painted.
These are great gift-making projects for the kids.
If you are having wooden troughs or planters built this summer, ensure you use untreated timber if you are growing food. The toxic chemicals used to treat the timber could be taken up by your vegetables or herbs.
If you like the longevity of treated timber, line it with black polythene before filling with soil.
Other containers, as varied as your imagination, can be lined with sphagnum moss which is excellent at holding moisture, or sheep’s wool – I heard of someone’s grandfather who used daggy wool to line his hanging baskets.
Size is not important either – your containers could be as small as a pair of old boots or as large as a rowing boat to add character and charm to your garden.
To keep your pot plants healthy, they need regular food as well as water. Potting mix, rather than garden soil, must be used, and slow-release pellets can be mixed in before planting or poked in afterwards – they will help your plant get all it needs.
If you want low maintenance, plant succulents. They require less watering and are more forgiving if you forget.
Whatever sort of plantings, caring for potted plant gardens can give a lot of pleasure.
Waste not want not: An old pair of boots planted with tough succulents adds charm to any garden.