Planted spring container
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How To Plant Up A Spring Container

Spring containers are easy to plant, cheap and cheerful

Planting a spring container can be as cheap or expensive as you wish. The container can be almost anything which will hold compost and let the water drain away; old boots or wellies with holes in the bottom; an old colander can be used as a hanging basket; an old basket or bucket. Or, you can spend money on a decorative pot which will look stylish and last for years. Containers are easy to plant up and maintain, requiring only a few minutes a week to deadhead and check the watering. This time of year they should not need much, if any, watering depending upon their position. If they are out in the open they should receive enough water from the rain, but, if they are under the eaves or a porch they may need watering once a week depending upon the temperature, obviously the warmer it is the more they will need watering. If given a little care it should last until it is time to put out summer bedding. 

Violas

Violas, mixed

To keep the expense down you could just recycle a container and put in a pack of pansies or violas which only cost a couple of pounds. Generally you would have a tall plant in the centre, or at the back if the container is going against the wall, then the flowering plants arranged around it with the trailing plants coming over the edge. There are also pots of flowering bulbs in garden centres at the moment which give height to the container. Permanent planting can be incorporated then you just have to put in a few flowering plants, which you just replace with summer bedding. Eventually, after a few years, the permanent plants will become too large and will have to be replaced.

Small shrubs for containers

Shrubs for containers

Planting

Make sure there are enough drainage holes in the bottom of the container and put a layer of crocks in the bottom (about 5cm, 2”), this ensures that the drainage holes don’t block with silt. Use good quality peat-free compost. If the container is very deep fill to within 30cm (12”) of the top with polystyrene, or stones if there is a likelihood of it being stolen. Leave a gap of about 5cm (2.5”) at the top. Place the chosen plants in the container and fill any gaps with compost.

Muscari

Muscari

Aftercare

Dead head every week and make sure it is kept watered. Feed with a high potash fertiliser, such as Tomorite, every fortnight.

Recommended plants

Tall plants: small conifers: Cupressus ‘Gold Crest’; cordyline; grasses: Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Luzula nivea, Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’

Permanent plants: heathers; Euonymous: Silver Queen, Harlequin, Emerald & Gold; leucothoe; gaultheria; grasses; Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’

Euphorbia Tiny Tim

Euphorbia 'Tiny Tim'

Bulbs: dwarf narcissus: Jumblie, Jetfire, Tete a Tete, New Baby, Minnow; muscari; dwarf tulips: Guiseppe Verdi, Little Beauty, Red Riding Hood, Peppermint Stick, Pinocchio, Toronto; Scilla siberica or mischtschenkoana; Chionodoxa luciliae

Narcissus Jumblie

Narcissus 'Jumblie'

Flowering bedding: pansies, violas, primulas, Bellis perennis, ranunculus

Bellis perennis

Bellis perennis

Trailing permanent plants: ivy, thyme, Gaultheria procumbens

Recipe for illustrated container: 3 x primula, 1 x narcissus ‘Jumblie’, 1 x ivy, 1 x Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’