Inspiring ideas for container gardening

Whatever size of space you have available for gardening, growing in containers can offer exciting opportunities for garden design, plant choice and visual styling. Containerised gardening gives you freedom – to move your plants around, to grow plants that are adapted to niche environmental conditions, and to create a specific look or style in your growing space.

Flowering plants, shrubs and trees in pots can be moved to suit the season – into shade or full sun during the summer, into full view on a patio or balcony when they’re looking their best, or into sheltered areas away from harsh winds during the winter. It means you can provide plants with a much wider variety of living conditions than if they were planted directly into the ground.

Three plants in colourful metal food containers placed on a pavement.

And it’s not just above-ground conditions you can change through container gardening. If you love hydrangeas or blueberries for example but have alkaline soil, then you can grow these very successfully in pots or containers filled with ericaceous (acidic) growing media. If, like me, you garden on heavy clay but want to grow Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and sage, then a container filled with a very poor nutrient, free-draining media and placed in a sunny spot will provide the perfect conditions for these heat-loving herbs. And towards the other end of the moisture spectrum are bog plants. These are plants that prefer growing in waterlogged soils and are fantastic grown in containers - Equisetum, Cyperus papyrus,and corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’) are all very popular right now. They tend to be fairly low maintenance as well: just keep the water level topped up and they’ll be pretty happy outside all through the year.

Lastly, your choice of pot or container will determine the overall look of your planting. This is the time to let your creativity run wild with your choice – certainly beyond what the typical garden centre has to offer. Think about using containers that may not have been originally intended for plants, but that could be easily adapted or repurposed for the plants you want to grow. This opens up a wealth of options for colour, shape, aesthetic and style and then you’ll really have something special to enhance your space.