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Growing in a smaller space? You can still achieve a glorious garden. Using potted plants in a small garden is a great way to create the illusion of space. By creative thinking, you can blend colours and textures to make your outdoor space look healthy and thriving, despite its size.
There are plenty of benefits to creating a garden using potted plants, these include:
- Variety – by planting in pots you can mix up the variety of species your garden houses, adding texture and versatility to your space.
- Accessibility – with pots, you have the freedom to move your plants quickly and easily, creating space when you need it (or refreshing your layout).
- No weeding – when you grow in pots, you can forget the faff of weeding as it's unlikely they’ll grow in the smaller spaces.
- Easy to control pests – with potted plants, you can raise them off the ground to keep them out of reach of bigger critters and cover them with netting or boundaries to foil smaller pests.
Sold on the idea of a potted garden? Read on for hints and tips to make it happen…
Consider the Environment
The biggest factor you’re up against with a small garden is the environment. Plants need sunlight to thrive, so you’ll need to choose species to plant depending on their sunlight needs and the shade your garden gets. You should also think about temperature – if you’re planting pots high up on a balcony, it’s likely to be hotter, so you’ll need to opt for plants that can withstand a higher temperature.
It's also worth considering how tall your potted plants will grow. Species that grow taller will require a structure to lean against. Think about how you can work these supports into your small space.
If you don’t get a lot of sun, you could consider hanging baskets which can be placed in areas of direct sun more easily. You can also think about miniature greenhouses, which are easy to set up and will provide the right climate for vegetables or seedlings to flourish.
The Best Potted Plants for Small Gardens
Here comes the exciting bit, choosing your plants! Here are some of the best potted plants you can add to your small space to make it look bright and beautiful…
- Dahlias – These bold blooms will add tons of colour to your space. They grow up to 60 cm high and will grow in full sun or partial shade. Remember to cover them with fleece in winter if you want them to reflower in spring.
- Begonia – The ruffled petals of begonias bring a variety of textures to your patio. Again, they’ll grow in full sun or partial shade and need covering in the winter.
- Fountain grass – With wild green stems and squirrel tails, this species will add interest to your collection. The colours gradually change and fade during the autumn, bringing even more delight to your small garden.
- Herbs – A more generic one for your pots. Herbs such as mint, basil and lemon balm will bring a luscious fragrance to your garden. The untamed greenery will contrast with colourful potted blooms for a rustic finish, too.
- Cordyline – This shrub grows palm-like leaves that provide shelter and privacy. They’re easy to maintain if they have sun, and the colours range from purple to green.
Container Selection and Placement
Before you start planting, make sure you’ve chosen the correct container for your plant. Research your chosen species and consider how much space they need – it might be the case that you will need to repot your plant into a larger container as it grows. It’s always best to choose pots that offer good drainage; this will help prevent common problems like root rot from overwatering.
When spacing your plants, you can start to get creative. There are a few rules to follow but, for the most part, you have free reign to create your perfect wild garden. Consider how tall each species will grow and be careful not to place smaller plants in the shadow of taller ones; this could hinder healthy growth.
Have a go at combining bright flowering plants with shrubs and succulents. Play with textures and colours to create variety. You can also consider building tiered systems that bring depth to your space and using hanging planters to fully encompass your garden.
Maintenance and Care
Luckily, potted plants are usually easier to maintain than those planted into the earth. They’re easier to protect from pests and won’t require weeding or mulching. That being said, a potted garden still requires regular maintenance.
A plant’s needs will differ from species to species, so it’s worth researching the needs of each one and creating a schedule to suit your garden.
As a rule, you should think about…
- Watering – again, this will depend on the species. You could invest in self-watering pots to make this easier.
- Pruning – some plants need dead stems and leaves cut off to allow the healthier parts to flourish.
- Repotting – certain species need to be repotted occasionally, giving the roots the room they need to grow.
- Fertilising – to ensure your plants get the nutrients they need to flourish, you might consider adding fertiliser to their pots. This can be done at the time of planting and as needed whilst they grow.
There are so many benefits to potted gardens, from less maintenance to freedom of creativity. It’s easy to make a big impact in a small space by combining species, colours and textures – you even have the freedom to switch it up and move your pots around as and when you please.