Choosing compost for pots

Find out which compost is most suited to using in container displays, in this No Fuss Guide with Kevin Smith.

Discover which growing medium is best for your container display and why, in our No Fuss Guide to Choosing Compost for Pots, with Kevin Smith, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

Choosing compost for pots: transcript

The secret of a great container like this one isn’t the beautiful plants that are on the top, but it’s the compost that’s inside. It’s what’s underneath that really gives the great results. When choosing, there are lots of things you need to take in account.

As a starting point, you should probably look for a specific container compost. This is sold in the garden centre specifically for putting in pots. It’s got lots of nutrients in there already, and water retaining properties, and really does all the hard work for you. It’ll keep plants going for around six weeks, without you really having to
do anything other than water them.

Of course, don’t worry if you haven’t got or can’t find a container compost like this one. You can use a general multi-purpose compost. This here is just a normal peat-free compost and you can see that it doesn’t really have many additives. There will be a bit of fertiliser in here to keep things going but, all in all, it’s quite a basic,
clean compost. You can boost it, though, by adding a few bits and pieces. Here, I’ve got water-retaining gel. This is something similar to what you’d find in a specific container compost. But you can add some to general multi-purpose and it will give it special water-retaining properties. You can also add your own slow release fertiliser granules. Here’s a mix of different feed and fertiliser with all sorts of nutrients in it. Finally, there are composts that are for really specific purposes. For example, here I’ve got a John Innes compost. It’s
a special recipe that’s soil based and it’s a much heavier compost. It’s more like the border soil you’d find in your garden. It’s great for mature plants and things that are gonna be in containers for a long time. Things like trees and shrubs and topiaried box, stuff like that.

And then don’t forget that there are ericaceous composts. These are perfect for acid-loving plants, things like rhododendrons, azaleas and blueberries.

So there you go. There are lots of different composts to choose from when you’re planting containers. From specific, ready-mixed container blends to plain multi-purpose compost that you can boost with slow release fertiliser and water retaining gel. And finally, specialist composts that are suited to very specific plants. Just make sure you choose the right one. And you’ll achieve the best possible results.