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Growing your plants, floral or edible, medicinal or aesthetic, in containers saves space, defies time and attractive in all spaces, big or small.
Select your containers based on where they will be positioned. A window box is ideal for kitchens, a hanging basket for outside the window and 2 large pots for flanking the back door for example. Pots can be terracotta, plastic, wicker or wood for example.
Add to your shopping list compost and slow-release plant food or organic compost, mulch such as bark chips, plus a selection of herbs you find useful and tasty.
Select your plants by climatic preference, such as grouping sun-lovers like garlic, coriander, origanum, basil, thyme, fennel and savoury.
Start by arranging drainage material and grouping the plants inside to see what grouping looks best. Don't pack plants tight against each other. Remove the plants again, add soil and start planting from one side of the container to the other. Lastly add a little plant food, firm the plants down and mulch with bark chips. Water well.
The Edible Pot
For a veggie pot-garden, you may choose dwarf French bean, Chinese lettuce, beetroot, red pepper and shallots. If you enjoy looking at (and eating) flowers, you can plant up chives, marigolds, nasturtiums and pansy. Salad-lovers can literally plant a salad with cherry tomatoes, some lettuce plants, a couple of parsley plants and chives - and why not some edible flowers mentioned above! Fruit trees can be grown in containers, sub-planted by other edibles.
The Medical Pot
Medicinal plants that can be useful include Bulbinella and Aloe for skin ailments, horseradish for colds, and lavender for tension and garlic for bronchitis.
The Spring Pot
Fill a butler's tray with planted terracotta pots each filled with primroses, Iris reticulata and crocuses. (The irises and crocuses will want to die down after flowering and can be kept in a 'resting' space out of sight until next autumn.) Another good grouping in a singular container is pansies, tulips and daffodils.
The Summer Pot
A cheerful and summery combination for the front door includes some pink verbenas, helichrysum for neutrality and shocking pink petunias. Or change the petunias to pelargonium. Another popular solution is planting a hanging basket with black-eyed Susan, nasturtiums and yellow lantana.
The Autumn and Winter Pot
Keep your container bright and cheerful with evergreens of which some have golden or variegated foliage. Create drama with texture and leaf shapes.
The Lunar Pot
Create an evening focal point by planting a terracotta window box with white pelargonium and white trailing verbenas.
The Topiary Pot
Topiary planting always results in elegant displays. It may be easiest to buy shaped plants as big as possible. Keep these potted individually and place together in a larger container. Hide underneath a layer of bark chippings.
The Themed Pot
Old gum boots, a row of old galvanized metal watering cans, cooking pots and teapots can all create quirkiness to otherwise drab areas. As long as you drill drainage holes into them and place the metal objects in shade, they will amuse without fail.
The Young Pot
Find your child a pot to paint and plant. Kids love these projects and take great pride in their own handiwork. A good idea is to paint recycled tires in bold colours, with their choice of art painted on (often these are handprints). Provide them with seeds/seedlings of easy growers such as tomatoes, sunflowers and spinach.
Feeding is essential and can be provided by form of slow-release plant food granules, liquid foliar feed or organic compost.
Watering your containers is vital as containers dry out far quicker than 'grounded' plants. Yet, over watering is often a bigger killer than pests and diseases. Stick your finger in the ground and water well if dry. Stop watering as soon as it starts draining out at the bottom.
Mulching can be bought as bark chips, gravel, stones, pine cones, peach pips etc.
Health matters so make sure to keep an eye open for pests and diseases.
Read more about growing edible plants
Dealing with Downy Mildew / Winter Garden Care: To Spray or Not to Spray? / Using Winter Annuals Effectively / Guidelines to Planting Seedlings / Februaury in the Kitchen Garden / Start a Kitchen Garden / Container Recipes / Garden Plants Perfect for Attracting Beneficial Insect Parasites and Predators / The Living World of Conifers / Preparing Roses for Spring / Pruning is Rewarding / Spring Seed Sowing / Spiders and Pesticides / Cold Blooded Wildlife: The Gift of Nature / Predatory Ladybirds: Nature's Solution to Aphid Control / Organic Plant Nutrition / Organics and Chemicals / Irrigation Practice in Landscaping - An Alternative View / Drip Irrigation in Landscaping