If you have the desire to show off a prized plant, or are after a vessel to stuff full with blooms to perk up a barren decking area or scabby patch in your garden, you’ll probably be in the market for a planter. In recent years, the choice for the consumer has expanded exponentially. Heavy terracotta pots that used to dominate the market are now being sidelined in favour of planters made from modern, lightweight materials. Us gardeners are prone to swapping, changing and moving plants around the garden on a whim, so having plants housed in lightweight pots makes this process a whole lot easier on our poor, creaky joints.
Folks who are still hot for terracotta should search for pots that have been fired at high temperatures (vitrification) which renders them bullet-hard and frostproof. It’s also worth considering wooden planters which can be a good, cheap option for larger displays. Planter connoisseurs should also seek out the various galvanized, vintage vessels available. Although these tend to be heavy and rather expensive, they can look stunning when planted up and seated in-situ.
Whatever planter you plump for, it’s worth bearing in mind that the soil in said planters will tend to dry out quicker than your free-range, garden soil. Small terracotta planters are the most guilty, so keep an eye on them during dry spells and keep them sufficiently doused.
But what to plunge in your precious new planter? Here are a few suggestions…
When indulging in a spot of kitchen-based chef-ery, a planter sat outside the back door, stuffed with herbs, trumps a pack of wilting, cellophane-wrapped supermarket fodder every day of the week.
Try: Lemon verbena Lippia citriodora
This aromatic, evergreen shrub loves full sun and will impart fragrant wafts of lemon sherbert when you brush past the foliage. These plants grow huge, so make sure you plant them in a suitably capacious pot. Try dropping a few leaves into a G&T for a subtle citrus zing.
Try: Garlic Chives Allium tuberosum
This continental cousin of the common or garden chive not only provides fodder for your kitchen creations, the delicate flowers will bring bees a-buzzing to your garden. Chop up the stems and fling them into a cheesy sandwich, or pick the delicate white flowers when they open and sprinkle on a salad for a garlicky, onion-ey double whammy(ey).
Try: ‘Munstead’ English lavender Lavandula angustifolia
Galvanised, antique-style planters look the business stuffed with a load of this compact, blueish-purple culinary lavender. Steep the flower buds in boiling water for ten minutes for a soothing herbal brew.
Bring colour and encourage pollinating pals into your garden by planting some bright breezy blooms in your planters.
Try: ‘Brown Sugar’ Tulips Tulipa
A swathe of vibrant tulips are hard to beat when shown off in a patio bound planter. This year’s hot colour (or so we are told) is burnt orange, so try pairing this variety with the gothic ‘Paul Scherer’ tulip to make those colours pop.
Try: ‘St Clements’ Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
This is a great trailing flower for planters residing in sunny sites. Nasturtiums need the minimum of attention and thrive when left to their own devices – perfect then for the lazy gardener. Both leaves and flowers are edible and give off a delicate peppery taste that works a treat when scattered over a nice Italian salad.
Try: ‘Gallery Red’ Lupin Lupinus
You couldn’t move for lupins at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show – every garden seemed to have them poking up in some place or another. Go with the trend and try potting up some of this fine dwarf variety. Lupins need large planters in which to flourish. You should also make sure your soil is nice and fertile and deadhead after the first blooms fade to encouragea second, red-hot flush.
Fruit & Veg
Don’t forget, you can also grow vegetables and fruits in a planter. Specially designed trugs can be bought that have deep, v-shaped bottoms for maximum growing room but you can shove veggies in pretty much anything as long as the root systems of your chosen plants are not too deep.
Try: ‘Bull’s Blood’ Beetroot Beta vulgaris
Beetroot need plenty of water to thrive, but this bulbous, ruddy veg is one of our planter favourites. Slice it raw into a salad, or pickle and plonk it in a cheese sandwich. And there’s always beetroot wine to make…
Try: ‘Rhapsody’ Strawberry Fragaria × ananassa
This is an easy-to-grow, late cropping variety with plump fruits and delicate white flowers. Just remember to keep a close eye on them – strawberries are preferred banqueting fodder for greedy gastropods, thieving mice and airborne, avian pests, so pick the fruit regularly to avoid missing out on these juicy red treats.
Try: ‘Tom Thumb’ Lettuce Lactuca sativa
The intricate, tightly-packed leaves of this lettuce make an unusual addition to any planter. Again, don’t forget pest protection. Slugs and snails will attempt to scale the tallest planter for a munch of juicy lettuce, so try tying a copper strip around its midriff (planter, not gastropod) to ward them off. It’s the kindest, most humane way to resist their advances – slug pellets are way too harsh, beer traps are a waste of good beer.
What have you planted in your planters? Tell us what’s worked for you in the comments below.