A quick guide to pots, planters and containers

pots plants and containers
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The origins of container gardening can be traced far back into ancient history. Initially, gardeners used them for edible and medicinal plants in Greece, China, Egypt and India. Over time, pots and containers became more popular and were used to grow all kinds of plants.

The use of container planting as garden decoration was popularised in Italy. During the Renaissance, large, ornamental terracotta pots were displayed to great effect in the ornate gardens of the time.

But they were also popular with Roman citizens, who used containers to bring a piece of the countryside into their towns and cities. Homeowners attached boxes of plants and flowers to windows and even placed them on their roofs.

Today containers are an essential part of our gardens and allow us to bring a touch of nature indoors. They are also an incredibly flexible gardening tool. You can use them:

  • To grow more delicate or tender plants. A pot is ideal for this as it can be moved inside when the weather turns cold, allowing you to protect your plant
  • To create a specific style or design by using pots and planters of different sizes and heights on various levels. There are containers available in all imaginable sizes, colours and designs
  • To change the entire look and feel of the garden or patio simply by moving containers or changing their contents with the seasons or even just your mood

Possibilities of pots

Of course pots and containers are not just for ornamental use – they play a big part in the greenhouse and potting shed too. The humble garden pot provides a home for new plants and seedlings while they concentrate on growing. And there’s always a bigger container waiting for plants that outgrow their pot.

But with so much choice, how do you choose the right containers? The size will depend on what plant(s) you want to put in them, and the style depends on your garden look and feel.

Traditional terracotta pots work in any garden and type of plant.

For a sleek, contemporary style, try zinc or stainless steel planters.

Combine pots in bright shades with colourful flowers for a striking effect.

Wooden planters will weather beautifully and create a rustic feel.

Glazed or painted pots allow you to create a colour scheme in the garden.

Stone or concrete tubs provide an authentic permanent feature, especially if they are similar to other stone in the house or garden.

Plastic pots can be made to look like weathered stone, pewter or clay to great effect without the high price tag.

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For more garden inspiration, read this:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

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  1. I love these ideas. I used to have so many lovely containers when I lived in the UK, but now we live in Italy and we have two problems. Firstly, they dry out very quickly and secondly, our young sheepdog digs them up. And if she doesn’t, my chickens do and make a dust-bath out of them instead.

    Any ideas on either or both these problems?

    1. Hi Cath, That doesn’t sound ideal! To help with the watering, try adding water retaining crystals to the compost when you plant, move the containers into semi-shade in high summer and water on an evening rather than in the morning to reduce evaporation. You can also set up automatic watering on a timer (there are a few systems available, though they are not cheap). Another trick is to cut the bottom off a water bottle and punch holes in the lid. Fill it with water and push it neck down into the compost. It should deliver water slowly to the roots.
      As for the dog/chicken problem, afraid I can’t be much help there! Your best bet would be to place the pots somewhere high/well away from chickens!

  2. Pots and containers do look lovely, but have to say, are hard work keeping watered etc. We have lots in our backyard as I think you have seen from photo. It was already paved over – concrete underneath when we came here!!! So, pots were the only answer, still, it does keep me busy. Bring back Tuesday evenings at 8 pm we say

  3. Am liking the pots. We have a tall (6ft) tree stump that OH is going to fix pots to. Will send photo when it’s ready.

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