Container gardening - or growing plants in pots - has seen a huge increase in popularity during the last ten years. The reasons for the increased popularity of growing plants in pots are many and varied. Container compost for pot grown plants have improved; the range of plants available for containers has increased; container gardening it is an 'easy' way to garden; you can have colourful plants nearer to the house etc etc etc.
Plants in pots and tubs also make for great colour photographs - the gardening magazines love them. It helps to 'brighten up' magazines and books. You can also have a 'container garden' wherever you want it to be, and change the containers round regularly.
More or less any plant can be grown in a container, and when you think of it, most plants that you purchase these days have been grown at the nursery in some form of container (pot) or other. Vegetables in Containers are entirely practicable and productive.
You can go for a single plant option - like the fuchsia in the stone pot below, or absolutely blitz your containers with a wide range of bedding plants. Pubs love this approach as you can see!
There are several points to bear in mind for successful container gardening. Not too many plants in the container. Very often, a couple of plants will take up as much space as six or seven plants put in one container. A good example of this is seen below. The left hand picture is of barrels planted up with up to twelve plant in each, whereas the right hand urn simply has two plants (Diascias) to make a brilliant display.
Assuming that we are going for brightly coloured annuals, then make sure that you have a good quality multi-purpose compost in the pot, add some water-retentive gel crystals - they work - and if the pot us likely to be porous such as the terra cotta pots, then line it with plastic first. (Hole for drainage in bottom please). If you have bought a plastic patio pot, make sure that the drainage holes have been drilled out.
The more plants you cram into your pot, the more likely it is that they will not grow to full size. For instance, a container with a diameter across of say 40cm (14in) will need no more than a single Fuchsia or Geranium in centre, 3-4 Petunias/Bizzy Lizzies/Verbena etc and 2-3 lobelia.
Watering and feeding are all important. Most compost these days only have enough food supply for around 4-6 weeks! So start to feed with a general liquid feed from the 4th week after planting out. Alternatively, you can add a long term fertiliser such as Osmocote to the compost. This will keep it 'feeding' for the whole season. Don't don't don't exceed the dose on the package. If the supplier thought that you could safely use more, they would have said so. (It makes sense, that way they sell more of their product. This goes for all chemicals.)
If you have a pot as described above, with a total of 6-7 plants, it will require watering maybe twice each day in hot summer. If you are out at work, do bear this in mind. When you make up the pot, then add water retentive gel to the compost. If you group your pots close together, they will help to shield each other from the heat of the sun. Put them in dappled shade, stand them in a waterproof saucer filled with water in the mornings, ask a neighbour (Last resort!),
So - not too many plants, a good compost, attention to feed (very important) and water, water, water - even more important.
By David Hughes - firstname.lastname@example.org