Thompson & Morgan

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Glossary of gardening terms

Plants for Containers


Containers help utilise all the available space in your garden - they brighten up walls, fences and patios. Most plants can be grown in a container but some are better suited to this than others. We’ve put together a list of the best plants for containers, baskets, flower pouches® and window boxes to help you get a fabulous display in your garden!


Type of container

There are a wide variety of containers available and your choice will depend on where you’ll be placing your container and which plants you want to grow. When choosing a container, make sure it is frost resistant to prevent cracking in cold weather. Bear in mind that terracotta and clay pots are porous so water will evaporate through the sides, causing the compost to dry out faster. Alternatively plastic, glazed or resin pots are a good choice for retaining water and plastic has the added advantage of being lightweight so is suitable for balconies and decking. Wooden planters are good for keeping the soil and roots at a constant temperature, whilst stone containers are sturdy but heavy. If you’re growing shrubs and perennials choose large pots to allow plenty of room for root growth. Bigger pots also retain water well.


Choosing plants for container gardens

Containers are versatile - you can grow any plant from bedding to shrubs, fruits, vegetables and even small trees! Using a mixture of trailing plants and upright plants makes an attractive arrangement which spills from the container; although for a bold statement try growing a single plant on its own (architectural plants work well for this - see below for good examples of architectural plants for containers). Good climbing plants for containers include climbing roses, clematis and sweet peas.

Container plants are also great for ‘plunging’ into your borders to give instant impact. This is particularly useful when a spring-flowering plant has died down and left a gap in your border. Sinking containers into the soil is also a useful method for controlling the spread of invasive plants like mint, bamboo and horseradish. The container acts as a barrier, preventing the roots from spreading into the soil. If you enjoy tender plants which need to be overwintered in frost-free conditions, containers are the ideal solution for temporarily planting these into your borders throughout the summer. They can then be easily lifted for over-wintering.


What type of compost?

The great thing about growing plants in containers is that you have full control over the soil they are growing in, which is useful if you have a difficult soil such as clay, chalk or acid. Most plants are happy growing in multipurpose compost although for perennial plants and shrubs its best to use a loam-based compost such as John Innes No. 2 or 3. These are heavier than multipurpose composts, lending stability to long-term container plants and they also retain water well. Use ericaceous compost if your container plants prefer an acid soil.


Caring for container plants

Plants in containers rely on you completely for nutrients, without which they will start to flag. To keep your container plants in tip-top condition make sure you feed them annually. This can be in the form of slow-release fertiliser applied to the compost surface each year or a balanced liquid feed applied every week throughout the growing season. If you are growing plants which prefer an acid soil, such as camellias and blueberry plants, use a special ericaceous feed.

When using multipurpose compost add water-retaining granules before planting to help the compost remain moist in warm weather. It’s also a good idea to add a top-dressing of gravel or decorative stones to help keep the plant’s roots cool and prevent water evaporating from the soil surface.

See below to find out more about which plant varieties are ideal for growing in containers:


Annual Plants for Containers:

Annual Plants
for Containers
 Ideal for Full Sun  Ideal for Shade  Ideal for Patio Containers  Ideal for Baskets  Ideal for Flower Pouches®  Ideal for Window Boxes  Ideal for Patio Bags  Interesting
features 
Antirrhinum Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Bidens Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Brachyscome   Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Calibrachoa Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Dianthus  Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Nasturtium Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Osteospermum   Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Petunia Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Sweet Pea (climbing varieties)     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Sweet Pea 'Snoopea'   Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Verbena Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Begonia ‘Apricot Shades’  Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Busy Lizzie  Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Fuchsia Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Geranium Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Laurentia Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Lobelia Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Mimulus    Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Pansy Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Winter FloweringInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Viola  Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Winter FloweringInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Scented

pdf image  Download the annual plants for containers table


Perennial Plants for Containers

Perennial Plants
for Containers
 Ideal for Full Sun  Ideal for Shade  Ideal for Patio Containers  Ideal for Baskets  Ideal for Flower Pouches®  Ideal for Window Boxes  Ideal for Patio Bags  Interesting
features 
Agapanthus     Interesting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer Flowering
Buddleja 'Buzz'     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Campanula   Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - Evergreen
Carex   Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Cordyline     Interesting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Gerbera     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Lavender     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Lilies     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Scented
Magnolia     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Saponaria   Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Trailing Plant
Acer palmatum     Interesting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Attractive FoliageInteresting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Bamboo     Interesting Features - ArchitecturalInteresting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Evergreen
Camellia     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Clematis     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Dicentra     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Dwarf Rhododendron/ Azalea     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Gardenia     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen
Heuchera    Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Hosta     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Ivy   Interesting Features - Trailing PlantInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Pieris     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Attractive Foliage
Polyanthus   Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring Flowering
Skimmia     Interesting Features - Upright PlantInteresting Features - Spring FloweringInteresting Features - ScentedInteresting Features - Evergreen

pdf image  Download the perennial plants for containers table




Plants for containers - Interesting features - Evergreen, attractive foliage, scented, architectural, upright, trailing, autumn leaf colour, winter flowering, summer flowering, spring flowering.











Plants for containers - Plants for hanging baskets











Plants for containers - Plants for patio containers

Fruits, vegetables and herbs for containers

Fruits and vegetables in containers need lots of watering. Compost dries out quickly in containers and many vegetables such as beetroot, lettuce and radishes are prone to ‘bolting’ (flowering) if stressed through lack of water.

Choose large containers if you’re growing big plants such as tomatoes, courgettes or fruit bushes, and choose deep containers if you’re growing carrots or potatoes.


Fruit, Vegetables
and Herbs for Containers
Full Sun Shade Patio
Containers
Baskets Flower
Pouches®
Window
Boxes
Patio
Bags
Interesting
features
Basil Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Chives   Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Coriander  
Oregano     Interesting Features - Summer Flowering
Rosemary     Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Sage    Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Thyme   Interesting Features - Summer FloweringInteresting Features - Evergreen
Cranberry   Interesting Features - Evergreen
Lemon tree     Interesting Features - EvergreenInteresting Features - Scented
Patio fruit trees      
Courgette      
Dwarf French beans    
Dwarf Runner beans    
Garlic      
Pepper      
Tomatoes  
Potatoes      
Sweetcorn      
Mint     
Parsley    
Blueberries     Interesting Features - Autumn leaf colour or flowers
Raspberries      
Redcurrant 'Rovada'      
Strawberries   
Rhubarb      
Beetroot     
Carrots      
Kale - grown as 'baby leaf'     
Lettuce  
Peas      
Radishes     
Salad leaves    
Sorrel  
Spinach     
Swiss Chard    

pdf image  Download the fruits, vegetables and herbs for containers table




Plants for containers - Interesting features - Evergreen, attractive foliage, scented, architectural, upright, trailing, autumn leaf colour, winter flowering, summer flowering, spring flowering.


Vegetables for containers - Salad leaves in patio bags


Vegetables for containers - Sweetcorn in patio bags


Herbs for containers