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Growing in containers

Container growing can make life easier as there is a range of options to suit, including pots and planters, grow bags and raised beds. Growing plants in containers allows you to provide the right conditions for different plants – such as acid-loving types. A wide variety of plants including vegetables, herbs – even small fruit trees – can all be grown in containers to make the best use of limited space.

In this section there is general information on how you can make growing in containers easier and details of some equipment that you might find helpful.

There is information on growing in containers: sitting down and from a wheelchair; with sight loss; with a weak grip; with one hand; if you can't bend easily

Top tips to make growing in containers easier

  • Group containers for watering
    Make sure there is good access all round your containers and that you can reach them comfortably and don't have to stretch.
  • Save the work of lifting bulbs or tender plants by planting them in pots or wire baskets in the border.
  • You will find it easier to water containers if you group them together. However, you can save watering time by putting containers where they will be reached by the rain.
  • Water-retaining granules can really save on watering, and slow-release fertilizer is an easy way to feed.
  • Decide what works best for you – high beds, called raised beds, that bring the soil surface close, or lower beds and containers that you can reach with longer handled tools. Find out more about raised beds

Taking care

  • Container plants need a lot more watering and feeding than plants in the ground. Don’t have so many that you are exhausted with the effort. If you have lots of containers, you might want to look into automatic watering systems.
  • Containers are also heavy to carry and move, so don’t be tempted to try to lift heavy pots by hand. Save straining your back by using a pot-mover trolley.

Hints and tips

  • Containers in a group
    Plants in pots can be placed in beds or sunk into borders to change the display.
  • Plastic containers hold moisture better than clay or earthenware and you can line hanging baskets with plastic to retain moisture.
  • A layer of gravel or shingle on the top of the compost will improve drainage through the pot and reduce weeds.
  • Saucers underneath your pots will help retain water, but remove these

    in the winter or in prolonged wet weather.

  • Add crocks in the base of the container under a layer of shingle for drainage.
  • Interesting trellis and plant supports extend the range of plants you can grow in containers and can act as useful screens.

Equipment and tools

In this section there is general information on equipment and tools to help you with container growing and a few examples of tools that you might find helpful.

You can see the full range of equipment for growingf in containers, and search for equipment and tools which are easier for people with a specific disability to use, in Equipment and tools to help you

  • Choose frost-proof pots.
  • Ideas for new pot displays are often shown at the big flower shows, so check magazines and your garden centre for ideas.
  • Wheeled pot stands make the job of changing displays a little easier.
  • Hanging baskets are best hung using a Hi-Lo pulley to avoid reaching up to tend them but always avoid sitting or standing beneath any basket which is above head height.

Pot mover  

Pot mover

Ideal for moving pots and boxes, this trolley has a claw like handle that goes over the item to steady it. The long handle saves you bending.

Find out more about pot mover

Trowel and fork  

Trowel and fork

These tools are lightweight and have soft handles which are comfortable to hold.

Find out more about trowel and fork

Small can with control valve  

Small can with control valve

A button at the top of the handle allows you to control the flow of water from this small and well-balanced watering can.

Find out more about small can with control valve