Plants growing in the ground can find their own water and nutrients. In containers, watering, feeding and making sure the plants have enough root space is down to us, which requires some extra care. But with so many pot styles to choose from, in all different shapes and sizes, there is little limitation on what you are able to grow, making the effort well worth it.
Water is key. Pots have limited resources of water and, particularly in the summer, will dry out fast. Regular watering of containers when it’s hot and dry is crucial. Overwatering can also kill so never leave plants sitting in drip trays full of water for long periods.
Feed your plants
Resources in a pot are finite, so add nutrients to the compost throughout the spring and summer, especially for flowering and fruiting plants. You can either add nutrients as a mulch, as a slow release feed like bonemeal and chicken manure pellets, or in a liquid feed like comfrey tea and seaweed feed.
Give roots room to grow
Repotting is necessary for a healthy and long-lived plant. There are a few species like agapanthus, which can cope with being root-bound, but generally, once the roots have grown so large that they fill the pot, water and nutrients will be fairly non-existent, and the plant will need to be potted into something larger.
Choose the right pot
Choosing the right pot is very important. Some plants, like blackcurrants and clematis, need deep pots. Big plants will need bigger pots or their growth will be restricted. Plants that like high moisture levels won’t want big drainage holes and succulents won’t be happy if there isn't enough drainage. Likewise, choose a pot that makes an attractive feature in its own right.
Weigh the options
Think about the weight of your pots. If you need to move a pot indoors for the winter, and you want to avoid injury while protecting your tender plants, make sure your pot is light or on wheels. If it’s going to be on a roof garden or balcony, keep your pots as light as possible, and remember that pots will be much heavier when filled with damp compost.