How to create a year-round pot display

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

30 minutes

Shrubs and perennials planted permanently in containers need good quality compost if they are to survive. The addition of loam-based compost such as John Innes no.3 will retain a good open structure for plant roots to obtain air as well as moisture. In addition, they'll be relying on you for nutrients so it's a good idea to add a slow-release fertiliser.

It's a good idea to repot the plants every year. Simply remove them from the pot, divide the root ball to halve the size of each plant and then put one half back in the pot with fresh compost. The other half can be planted in your border, another pot, or given to a friend.

You will need

  • Large container
  • Broken terracotta pot
  • Equal parts mix of John Innes no.3 (loam-based compost)and multi-purpose compost
  • Slow-release granular fertiliser
  • Decorative crushed stone or pebbles
  • 1 x red achillea
  • 1 x pink mallow (Malva sylvestris)
  • 1 x pink penstemon
  • 1 x salvia
  • 1 x scabious 'Black-Purple'


Ensure good drainage by putting a layer of broken terracotta pot or large stones over the holes in the base of the pot.

Put a layer of an equal parts mix of John Innes no.3 and multi-purpose compost in the base of the container and add a handful of slow-release fertiliser granules. Mix them into the compost.

Knock the plant from its pot and set it in the container. Add more compost under the plant to raise the top of the rootball to about 2cm - 3cm below the rim of the container. Fill around the rootball with more compost mix, firming it in layers as you fill.

Aim for the finished compost level to be 2cm - 3cm below the rim of the pot. This will allow you to water the plant thoroughly.

Fill in any gaps with compost. Water well and allow to drain.


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