Gardening doesn’t need to be complicated, especially when it starts with a pot!

There are lots of planting variations to consider as you plant up your pots and containers.

Container plants can give instant colour, provide a focal point in the garden, or give a handy source of fresh herbs and salads.  A pair of matching containers on either side of a path serves as a welcoming decoration, while containers on a deck or patio can add colour and ambiance.  You can use single large containers for outdoor decoration, but also consider arranging clusters of pots, both small and large, on stairways, terraces, or anywhere in the garden.

Planting a container is easy.  Once you have decided on the look that you want, all you need is a pot or container, compost, plants and slow release fertilizer.  Here are a few pointers that will help your pots look their best.

It starts with a pot . . .

There are a wide range of pots and containers available in various sizes and materials.

If you fancy getting a bit more creative, its fun to recycle unusual containers so keep a look out for unusual things to plant up such as old welly boots, watering cans or kitchen colanders! It doesn’t matter what you plant in – let your imagination go . . . .

Drainage

Drainage may be the single biggest factor on whether your plants live or die. Make sure that your pot has enough holes in the bottom to let excess water drain away. This is particularly important if you are using something unusual to plant up – many more plants are killed by drowning than not enough water!

The second part of the drainage equation is keeping the soil in while letting the water out. Some protection over the holes works best – broken flowerpots make great drain hole covers. It’s is also a good idea to lift the container up so that the water isn’t blocked from running out of the drainage holes. There are many ways to achieve this, but pot feet are the easiest.

Compost

Fill your container to the level of the base of your largest pot – aim to leave a 2cm gap between the top of the compost and the rim of the pot.  Use a multi-purpose compost mixed with a slow release fertilizer to make sure that your plants continue to thrive.  Alternatively, you can use Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost which is enriched with slow release Miracle-Gro Plant Food to feed plants for up to 6 months and contains special Aquacoir formula and water retaining agent that helps stop your plants drying out. As a result you will need to water 50% less often while your plants continue to draw on the extra moisture stored by this compost.

Planting

With the plants still in their pots, arrange them in your container until you are happy with the look.  For a dramatic single plant look, ensure that the plant is straight and central in the pot.  For a more informal look, put taller plants in the centre and trailing or smaller plants around the edges.  If the plants you are using are young and not filling the pot, try adding seasonal items to add colour and interest until the original plants mature.

Remove your plants from their pots carefully to give them the best start.  If you have a six pack of plants, hold the stem close to the soil surface and gently squeeze the plants out of their holder from the bottom.  If the plant is in a single pot, try tapping the pot and tip the plant up from the bottom, squeezing the pot to ease the roots away from the edge.

Make a hole in the compost where you want the plant to grow and pop the plant into the hole –it needs to be at the same level that it was in its original pot.

Watering

The majority of plants like to be kept in moist soil.   Be sure to water regularly so that the pot doesn’t have a chance to dry out.  Water slowly and make sure the water is going to your plant’s roots.  The best way to know if you’ve soaked the soil enough is to water until it starts to run out the bottom of your container.  It’s also a good idea to feed your containers regularly for the best display and this can easily be done using a water dissolvable fertiliser in the watering can!

Maintaining

Since containers are focal points in the garden, you will probably want to keep an eye on them to keep them looking their best. Keep the nutrients in the soil fresh with regular feeding.  Remove tattered leaves and deadhead flowers. Prune back plants that get leggy or stop blooming and keep an eye out for pests like aphids.  As the season develops you might want to refresh the look and remove plants that have finished flowering, replacing with new specimens.

Enjoy . . .