Planters are a great way to maximise impact in a small space while keeping maintenance as low as possible. Choose plain, unadorned styles in fibreglass, steel or stone for a modern look and terracotta for a more traditional feel. Stick to one material for your planters – use different shapes by all means but make sure they are all from the same “family”.
Whatever style you choose, ensure that they have holes drilled in the bottom so that water can drain through.
Bear in mind that metallic planters placed in full sun will warm up, giving the roots inside a toasting. Make sure you choose plants that will be happy with this.
Remember that a few large planters in a small space will make the area seem larger. A large number of small ones will have the opposite effect and appear cluttered.
Large planters enable you to give your plants enough growing medium to be comfortable and thrive and reduce the risk of drying out.
When it comes to choosing plants for your planters it is a good idea to go for a high proportion of evergreens. These will give you structure throughout the year.
All the plants in your container garden should have a long season of interest – avoid two-week wonders! Try to arrange it so that you have sequential flowering through the year – early spring, early summer, high summer, and autumn into winter. Tall grasses which move in the wind are particularly effective.
Generally, plants in containers need more watering than those in the ground. This is because the leaves of the plant tend to prevent rain getting into the container. An irrigation system linked to an automatic timer will save you a lot of time and worry, keeping your plants watered at regular intervals, even when you go away.
Remember to adjust the amount of water delivered to cope with prolonged dry spells. In the winter your system can usually be turned off for a few weeks although you should check regularly to make sure things are not drying out.
Permanent planting in containers calls for a soil-based growing medium rather than a peat or peat-substitute compost. Go for a John Innes type compost – this will retain water and nutrients better than regular multi-purpose compost and anchor the plants more securely. It is also easier to re-wet after drying out than peat-based materials.
Plants need food as well as water so make sure you feed your containers regularly. For most plants a sprinkling of a general, balanced fertiliser such as Growmore will do the job.
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