Container gardening is a great way to grow beautiful plants, even with only a little outdoor space. Containers of all shapes and sizes can be placed on patios, balconies, decks, terraced house yards, or windowsills. This makes it possible for you to enjoy gardening, even if you have a small garden or no garden at all.
One of the main appeals of nurturing a container garden is that your containers can be moved around easily. This means you can adjust their location to get the best sunlight through the seasons and frost protection during the winter. This is especially beneficial in a particularly cold winter, as you can bring your containers indoors to protect them from the harsh weather and not risk losing your precious plants entirely.
Gain a wider variety of plants
You can grow a wider variety of plants in containers than in traditional gardens, so more versatility and choice are available. This is because you can choose containers of different sizes and shapes to accommodate the needs of different plants.
You can also grow interesting or eye-catching plants that would not be able to survive in a garden with one specific type of soil. This allows you to pot up and grow tropical or succulent plants that wouldn't do well in a heavy clay soil garden, for example.
Great for beginners of all ages
It's an excellent way for anyone to get started in gardening. Container gardening is also a low-maintenance way to introduce children to growing edible plants that they can enjoy looking after, learning about, and then eating the results! It's a good option for families who live in flats without a garden or who want to keep their garden free for their children to play in.
Container gardens are also ideal for older or less physically mobile people as they require less weeding and general maintenance than traditional gardens. While the soil held in containers dries out more quickly, so you will need to water them frequently, the smaller size of container gardens also means that there is far less weeding to do.
Tips for getting started with container gardening
Choose the right location. When choosing a place for your container garden, consider the amount of sunlight your space receives. Most popular container plants usually need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, but some plant varieties prefer shade and can tolerate much less direct sunlight.
Our outdoor spaces in the UK are often subject to strong wind exposure. Strong winds can dry out your container plants quickly, so choosing a sheltered spot where your plants won't get battered about by strong prevailing winds is best.
The potting mix you use is also important for the health of your plants. It is best to use a potting mix designed for container gardening that is well-drained. You can also add some compost to the potting mix to improve drainage and add more fertility.
How to feed and water your container garden
It is essential to water your plants regularly as container gardens dry out more quickly than traditional gardens with deep soil. How often you need to water will depend on the size of the container, the type of plants you are growing, and the weather. A good rule of thumb is to gently feel around the soil in the container and water your plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.
Your plants must be fed to allow them to grow and thrive. Container gardens don't have access to nutrients buried deep in the soil like in traditional gardens, so you need to fertilize them regularly. Use a balanced fertilizer that is designed for container gardening.
You must also protect your container garden plants from pests and diseases. Unfortunately, container gardens can be more susceptible to pests and diseases than traditional gardens. It can help to check your plants regularly and look for issues each time you water them. Some insects, such as aphids and greenflies, can be gently removed from plant leaves and stems with a lightweight damp cloth.
Which plants are well-suited to UK container gardens?
Herbs are an excellent choice for container gardening, as they are relatively low-maintenance and can be used in cooking. Some herbs are incredibly fast-growing and make ideal starter plants for young children to help catch the gardening bug. Some popular herbs for container gardening include basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, and rosemary.
Many flowers are bright and cheerful and can add a welcome dash of colour to your garden. Many are also well-suited for container gardening in the UK. Some popular flowers for container gardening include petunias, geraniums, marigolds, and pansies.
If you want a more productive garden to grow food for your kitchen, many vegetables can be successfully grown in containers. Some popular vegetables for container gardening include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce. You can even produce a crop of potatoes in a specially designed container that can happily sit on your patio or balcony.
How can I learn more about container gardening?
You can learn the secrets of container gardening from RHS Chelsea garden designer and expert plantsman Chris Beardshaw on our Container Gardening Course. This course teaches you everything you need to know to create beautiful and thriving container gardens, even with limited space.
You will learn about the advantages of planting in pots, how to choose the right container for your plants, which plants work well in containers, and how to combine plants for texture, colour, and form.
You will also learn how to create and maintain complex container gardens through all seasons.
By the end of the course, you will have designed and created your own container garden, and you will have the knowledge and skills to keep it thriving for years to come. You can ask Chris for feedback on your planter, pot designs, and project.
Sign up today and start learning how to create beautiful and thriving container gardens!
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