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RHS New Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

RHS New Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers

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Container Gardening

Gardening with containers - whether commercial or improvised - offers wonderful opportunities for creative gardening, especially on terraces, patios, window sills and other restricted areas.

Unlike plants embedded in a garden bed, container plants can be moved around to make the most of flowers and foliage at their best - or even to match your mood. When they are no longer at their best, permanent plants can be retired to less obvious positions and others can be composted and replaced with new seedlings or bulbs.

You can also use containers to fill weak areas in the main garden.


Containers can be anything from expensive antique pots to old buckets or a few car tyres placed on top of eachother. You are limited only by your imagination. Obviously, appearance is important and it is best to avoid unsightly containers, unless you can disguise them with hanging plants, or covering material. They need free drainage - one or more holes in the bottom - or you will soon find yourself experimenting with unexpected pond gardening. Remember also that that small containers will dry out quickly and restrict root growth.

Soil for Container Gardens

Garden soil is not an ideal growing medium for containers, especially if you have a clay soil. Good potting compost is much more likely to produce luxuriant plant growth. Commercial mixtures are excellent but you can also make your own with soil, sand, a peat substitute and slow release fertilizer..

Caring for Container Gardens

The critical task is watering. Container gardens dry out quickly in warm weather and will probably require thorough watering once or twice a day. It is best to do this when temperatures are at their coolest - morning or evening - so that plants can take up the maximimum amount of water. Rain water is best - some plants react badly to tap water. In essence, you are dealing with pot plants on a larger scale, so feeding is also important.

Container Gardening Books

The Ultimate Container Garden

The Ultimate Container Garden

by David Joyce
This manual demonstrates that whether you have a city window ledge or a large well-stocked garden, you can use containers to enhance your outdoor space. It includes recipes and plans for over 30 container planting schemes. Step-by-step photographs show how to plant every kind of container, with tips on fixing and supporting heavy baskets and window boxes, decorating containers, training standards and topiary. A catalogue of more than 1000 plants is provided to enable the reader to choose successful colour combinations in every season.
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The Edible Container Garden

The Edible Container Garden: Fresh Food from Tiny Spaces

by Michael Guerra
You do not need a garden to grow delicious and decorative vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers. A balcony will do, or a rooftop, windowsill, houseboat, or small backyard. All you require is some basic know-how. From design to harvest, this book provides everything you need to maximise your outdoor space and transform it into a colourful edible paradise.
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Gardening Without A Garden

Gardening Without A Garden

by Gay Search
  This volume reveals how the smallest of outdoor spaces can be transformed into a glorious, year-round display of flowers and foliage. Whatever the location, space, climate or aspect there is a container to fit the situation. There are step-by-step instructions and information for over 150 plants.
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Garden Design: A Book of Ideas

Garden Design: A Book of Ideas

by Heidi Howcroft and Marianne Majerus
A comprehensive sourcebook of the best contemporary ideas for garden owners, architects and designers.
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