I despair a little when I hear reports in the media about my generation (Millenials, Generation Y, whatever you want to call us) and our supposed lack of interest in gardening. The crux of the matter surely lies in the fact that more people than ever are renting and therefore don’t own a space that they can cultivate, as well as this, more people than ever live in flats with little or no access to outdoor space.
However, gardening is something that almost anyone can take part in; the reason for this is, of course, the mighty plant pot. And what’s even better is almost anything can become a plant pot, so you don’t have to shell out tonnes of cash on expensive terracotta designs. But more on that in a later post.
Five reasons to plant in pots
- If you have no access to a garden, or have limited outdoor space, pots are a great way of using and improving your gardening skills. Many herbs, alpines, succulents and small flowers will grow perfectly well this way (provided they have the usual access to sunlight, water, nutrients etc.)
- If you’re renting but do have a garden, it makes sense that you’ll feel reluctant to plough money into an outdoor space that is ultimately owned by someone else. In this case, pots, tubs, or planters are the perfect solution. When you move, you can take them with you, meaning you won’t have ‘added value’ to your landlord’s property.
- Pots come in all different shapes and styles and can really add charisma to any space. Due to their portability, you can experiment with colour, shape and levels to create the balcony, garden or even window ledge of your dreams.
- Snails and slugs find it a little bit harder to get into pots. Don’t get me wrong, they will make it in there eventually, stealthy night-time ninjas that they are, but generally, the higher up things are, the longer it takes them to get there. This means they take longer to come back after you’ve rounded them all up.
- Plants that can’t cope with an English winter can be brought inside during the colder months for protection.
Advice for planting in pots
- Drainage, drainage, drainage. Lots of plants don’t like to be waterlogged, so drainage is important. Many plant pots come with a hole in the bottom that allows for this – covering this with a few stones will prevent soil from spilling out, but will still let the water drain. If your pots are inside or somewhere that you want to keep dry, then obviously place them on a tray to catch water as it drains out. If you’re repurposing something as a plant pot, drill a few holes in the bottom before you start planting.
- Large plants that need lots of drainage may need to be raised up on little terracotta feet – these can be purchased at most garden centres for a couple of pounds.
- Use enriched compost when planting for the first time – preferably a type that is long lasting. This should provide some of the nutrients that the plants might miss out on by not being in the ground.
- Invest in some inexpensive multi-purpose plant food to keep your leafy little friends well-fed and nourished. Out of laziness I often opt for the liquid options which you simply add to your watering can. However, the granular blends that you have to mix up yourself are more economical.
- Trimming and pruning at the right time of year will help to prevent plants from outgrowing their pot. This is something that I intend to learn more about this autumn.
- Try not to overfill during the initial planting stage. In my first post I discussed my hanging basket that is full to the brim with pansies. When I plated them I had no idea they would grow to such an extent. Less is more – you can always add to your pots later on.
- Mix and match. I love to plant two or three different things in a pot. Succulents, alpines, and small flowers work well together; the different colours and textures are delightful.