Growing in Pots

Pot plants come in all shapes and sizes; big and small, for inside and outside, formal and informal. Virtually any plant can be grown in a pot, but some are much easier than others to look after. If you're short on time in today's busy world, but still want to experience the atmosphere of a potted garden, the following hints which could make your container gardening a lot easier and much more rewarding.



Why Pots?

Container gardens offer a lot of flexibility. You can move pots to different parts of the house or garden from time to time to change the atmosphere in your home; or according to the season, to suit the growing requirements of the plant. When a plant becomes too large for a pot, it doesn't have to be discarded. You can put it into a larger pot, give it to a friend, divide it into two or more separate plants, reduce it in size by both pruning the top and the roots, or even plant it out into the garden.

Pots themselves can add character to a garden. The right combination of plant and pot not only makes the plant grow better, but also makes it look better. If you tire of that look, you can put the plant in a different pot for a different look.

Pots can be used for bulbs, annuals or perennial flowers and even for vegetables and herbs if you don't mind a little work from time to time to remove and replace the old plants. Containers used this way should have the potting mix replaced every so often before it becomes too compacted and starved of nutrients.

Growing in containers is also an excellent way to control the growth of vigorous or invasive plants.


What is different about Pots?

Plants grown in pots are different to plants grown in the ground in the following ways:

They are more prone to drying out (particularly hanging baskets).

They are more prone to running low on nutrients.

The roots are more likely to overheat in hot weather or be cold affected in cold weather.

Provided the container has adequate drainage holes, drainage problems are less likely in potted plants, than in heavy garden soil.


Check watering properly


Plants in containers can be very wet underneath and look dry on top. Never water just because the top of the pot looks dry. Check the drainage holes underneath and see if they look moist. Poke a finger a couple of centimetres into the pot and see if deeper potting mix is dry.

Only use good quality potting mix, with an even, consistent texture and plenty of organic matter (this helps keep suitable water and temperature levels).

Don't sit pots straight on the surface of soil where earth can clog up drainage holes. Pots are best sat in a saucer or on a paved area.

If you sit a pot on timber decking beware that water draining through may stain the timber.

Keep pot plants well fed. Pelleted slow fertiliser (organic or inorganic) provides a slow release of nutrients over a period of months. Liquid fertilisers can be used weekly during the growing season will keep most container plants healthy.





If you can't get anything else to grow in containers, try the following. These plants withstand a little more neglect than some others.



Succulents (Don’t over water though)

Chlorophytum elatum (Spider Plant)

Coleus or Plectranthus

Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis sp>)

Ivy (Hedera sp.)

Phoenix roebelinni


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