Plant in early spring so that plants quickly grow roots and become established. Autumn planting may lead to losses from waterlogging and evergreens may deteriorate over winter from dryness at the roots or wind-burn of the foliage.
Watering is one of the most important jobs when growing plants in containers. Roots need a balance of air and water to grow well which is easy to provide if you have a good quality compost or soil. Plants don't grow well if their roots are in very wet compost (not enough air) and plants will often benefit if the compost is allowed to dry a little between waterings. See the advice below on summer care and winter care for information on watering plants in containers. How much you need to water is very weather dependant.
See the advice below on summer care and winter care for information on feeding plants in containers.
Plant roots eventually fill containers and this often reduces growth. This is not necessarily a bad thing as slightly stressed plants are often attractive and the slower growth reduces the maintenance needed. However, eventually the plant will need to be moved to a bigger container or the compost refreshed in the same pot, as composts lose their structure over time. Shrubs and trees that stay in a pot for years are especially vulnerable unless re-potted.
These steps will ensure success when re-potting into a larger container:
- When moving plants to a larger container (one size larger at each stage), re-pot in early spring as soon as they show signs of growth
- Remove a little of the old compost, slide the plant out and tease out roots, cutting them if necessary
- When it is no longer convenient to repot them every year into a bigger pot, they should be repotted in the same pot at least every other year. Replace one-third of existing compost and roots with fresh compost
In years when re-potting is not carried out, topdress by removing 5cm (2in) old compost from the top of the pot and replacing with fresh compost.