Let’s get passionate about pots

With so many things to see and do at Gardening Scotland, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We will definitely be visiting the “Big Back Garden” which is always a firm favourite, it’s a part family fun area and part eco area, bringing together all the elements of what many of us want in today's garden from growing your own, an area for the kids and most importantly, somewhere to sit and relax.

That’s why we should be thinking about pots and getting passionate about them. Thanks to Lesley Watson and Dougal Philip of New Hopetoun Gardens for their excellent workshop on why pots are so great. Pots are a fantastic solution for gardeners who really want to garden, but just don’t have the weather to do so.

They are also ideal for people who might not have much garden space or no garden at all. Pots provide protection for your plants and ultimately make less mess. This makes them perfect as a gift for various occasions such as wedding anniversaries, birthdays, new house and new baby gifts. First of all the workshop we attended reminded us that there are a few things you should consider when choosing a plant pot.

Flowers in plastic plant pots


Choosing your plant pot

The most important thing to remember when choosing a plant pot is to ensure that it has a sufficient drainage system. A drainage hole is essential for ensuring that compost and water drains from the plant, without this hole your plant could drown. The second thing to consider is the purpose of your plant pot; will it be temporary or permanent? If the plant will be in the pot permanently consider purchasing a frost proof pot as this will withstand outdoor winter temperatures. For added protection during winter, wrap the pots in bubble wrap and move to a more sheltered area.

Choosing the right compost

Choosing the right compost for your plant pot is essential as the plants can’t naturally seek the nutrients from the soil, they need to be given it and for that reason you should not use the same compost for pots and you would for the rest of your garden. Multipurpose compost can be used for plants that are temporary planted in pots and a soil-based compost such as John Innes No. 3 should be used for permanently potted plants.

Food and water for your potted plants

Much like the compost, potted plants reply on you for food and water. Fresh compost should provide your plant with about six weeks of nutrients. Some compost has slow-releasing fertiliser which means that you can leave your plants without feed for a lot longer. Otherwise, use a general-purpose liquid feed through spring and summer.

In Scotland we’ve privileged (or not) to have a plethora of rain which means that our gardens don’t need much additional watering. Plants in pots however don’t tend to benefit from the rain and so need to be watered. A good tip is to feel the surface of the soil, if it’s dry give the plant a water and if it’s damp leave it alone.

The right pot for you

There are thousands of varieties of plant pots from purple plastic to willow baskets to terracotta pots and all are suited to different types of plants. Here are a few tips we picked up from the Passionate about Pots workshop.

Coloured plastic pots are fantastic for modern minimalistic gardens and indoors. The benefit of plastic pots is that they come in a variety of colours and are not UV sensitive as many might think. New Guinea busy lizzies, regal pelargoniums and Begonias suit plastic pots especially well.  

Various basket plant pots at Gardening Scotland 2013

Willow baskets are a very versatile plant container as they are easily moved and they’re a great choice for temporary plants. They’re also quite contemporary and will suit most tastes and styles. Hebe plants, alstroemeria an primula sikkimensis compliment willow baskets well.

This one in particular is for those that live in the city centre – Strawberry pots are great for those that don’t have much outdoor space for a herb garden. Strawberry pots have holes down the sides for planting various herbs and small vegetables. Our top picks for herbs would be curly parsley, lemon thyme, stevia, sweet sicoli and dill. Strawberry pots look particularly attractive on patios and balconies.

Do you feel more passionate about pots? If you’re considering redesigning your garden, let us show you what plant pots and other garden features can do for you.