Gardening: Let your favourite plants go to pot

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Whether you live in a small townhouse or a country cottage, anyone can try container gardening. This is a great and easy way to brighten up your outdoor space.

If you wish to bring the outdoors right up to your door, hanging baskets are a simple solution. They can be fixed to a wall, on the house or in the garden, to fences or suspended from the beams of a porch. They don’t take long to prepare, but give months of colour and pleasure.

Containers come in all shapes and sizes – pots, troughs, half barrels, window boxes – and in materials such as plastic, terracotta, wood, wire and stone. When choosing a container, consider the site – natural materials look good with traditional buildings or amongst plants, while plastics suit more modern environments.

The sizes of plants should also be considered — you don’t want a tiny plant in a huge pot, or a large plant in a pot that’s too small, as it will need repotting often. Provide plenty of large drainage holes in the bottom and ensure ceramic pots are frost-proof. Sinks, buckets, old chimney pots can all be used – be imaginative.

To have year-round colour, choose a selection of evergreens, such as ivy, and flowers.

Plant a mixture of foliage and flowering plants or even a mass of the same kind for impact. With wire baskets, gently push small plants from the outside through the sides of the basket. Take care not to damage the roots. Small plug plants are excellent for this. Top up with the potting compost, add a central large plant, and then work outwards with smaller plants. Water well and keep out of full sun for a week before hanging up.

Pots and baskets dry out quickly, so make sure you water them frequently – perhaps twice daily during summer. Avoid watering in the heat of the day.

* Dobbies Garden World, Edinburgh, is offering free advice throughout the summer at its Garden Grow-How talks. They take place every Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 2pm.