Keep it Contained
Container gardening is an excellent way to make good use of a small garden, or to enjoy the benefits of nature when the closest you have to an outdoor space is an apartment windowsill.
Containers come in all shapes, styles, and sizes, and can be used to grow anything from fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Rosemary, thyme, mint, and basil all do well on kitchen windowsills, while tomatoes and strawberries hold their own in sunny spots, including hanging out over your fence or balcony rail.
And, of course, containers filled with colorful flowers not only make an excellent, natural air-freshener, releasing delicate scent throughout the day, but, if placed outside – even just on a balcony – can provide a lifeline for bees, butterflies, and insects.
The common honeybee is having a tough time of it at the moment, with more and more hedgerows lost to intensive agriculture.
If you plant lavender, roses, pansies, and other attractive, sweet-smelling plants, you do the honeybee, and the wider ecosystem, a big favor. It also brightens up your garden, yard, patio, or balcony!
What to Look for in Containers
The first thing to bear in mind is the size of space you have available. Large, elaborate Grecian urns may look stunning, but they won't work on a balcony! Also, if you are putting your planted containers on a balcony, or a shelf, remember that compost adds a lot of weight to the container. Make sure you know precisely how much weight your shelf or balcony can support and think about the filled weight of any container you buy.
Other than getting the right size of container, for your space as well as your plants, you're looking for a container which allows easy watering, and provides good drainage. Plants are like people: they need water to survive but they don't like getting too wet. A container which allows you to easily pour enough water to dampen the substrate, and which features drainage holes at the base, to easily release excess water, is ideal.
You can even buy “self-watering” containers which you fill with a set amount of water. This is later absorbed by the pot over the course of a month or so. Self-watering containers are ideal if you are regularly away from home or if you have joint or mobility issues which may make regular watering difficult.
If you are using decorative containers, rather than plant pots, place a layer of bark or gravel an inch or so thick. This will absorb any excess moisture drained down through your soil/compost.
Buying Containers for Planting
A fun way to find containers for planting, especially if you're also hardscaping your garden, is to look in thrift stores and at flea markets, as well as on second-hand classifieds sites.
But for unusual containers such as attractive teapots, unusual wicker work (such as the wicker cup and saucer pictured which I'll shortly be using to plant snowdrops in, ready for a Spring display), or even umbrella stands, this may not be a viable option for everyone.
If you don't have a vehicle, you may prefer to shop online to purchase more straightforward containers. These can still be very attractive, especially on a sunny balcony or windowsill.
I've included some reviews of several containers, each suitable for different planting purposes, to help you get started.
The 5 Best Indoor Planters
Indoor planters don't need to be weatherproof, nor is effective drainage as important a factor as it is for outdoor containers. With indoor planters, you have complete control over how much water they receive. This means that there shouldn't be any excess water.
Always check any labels that come with your plants to see just how often they need to be watered. For example, the Cala Lilly I have indoors, as part of a bedroom display, only needs to be watered twice a week, while cacti don't need to be watered at all.
The key concerns with indoor planters are:
- choosing a design that fits your aesthetic
- having fun in making it fit the overall look of your garden and home
- ease of access as you take care of your plants
#5: Santino Arte Self-Watering Planter, 6.5”
These durable, plastic planters come in a range of sizes (from 4.3” up to 7.7”) and colors. This means it'll be easy for you to find one that exactly suits your planting needs AND home décor.
They have an internal reservoir which, once filled with water, should keep your plants happy and healthy for up to four weeks. However, one drawback is that it isn't possible to see how much water is in the reservoir once the pot is planted up. This is definitely a design fail on an otherwise attractive and functional pot.
- Don't need to water every day
- Different sizes and colors to fit with your needs and home décor
- Difficult to tell how much water is in the reservoir once pot is planted up
Value for Money?
These pots are reasonably priced and make an attractive, low-maintenance planting feature in any room.
#4: Five (5) Tier Stackable Planter
Holding up to 20 plants, these tiered planters are available in either hunter green or gray stone. They are suitable for outdoor use as well as windowsill planting.
They are ideal for plants such as strawberries and herbs – both of which can thrive on a sunny windowsill. However, it is worth noting that you will need to turn the planter round every other day, or plant half with plants which need full sun, and half which do better in partial sun or shade. On most windowsills, one side will not get the sun that herbs and soft fruits typically need. (I can be a lazybones so I usually go for the 2nd option.) These kind of plants also need watering daily, and these planters are not self-watering.
- Ideal for herbs and soft fruits
- Will need watering daily, and turning every other day, if all plants require full sun.
Value for Money?
These planters are plastic which may make them seem a little pricey to some people. However, the value for money comes in their space-saving design, which means that almost anyone can have a functional herb or soft fruit garden however limited their space.
#3: H Potter Decorative Planter Urn
Part of a full range of rust-resistant, stainless steel planters of different styles, sizes, and designs from H Potter, this large classically-styled yet contemporary planter features an antique copper finish.
Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, this planter would add equal elegance to a living room, conservatory, or small, modern-styled garden. In an outdoor space, any of the H Potter range of planters would suit a contemporary hardscaping theme also.
The planting insert is removable thus allowing you to easily change your planting arrangements. It also features plenty of drainage holes to stop your plants from getting too wet.
- Striking and stylish
- Easy maintenance
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
- Very expensive
Value for Money?
This is a top-budget item, although H Potter do offer more affordable planters – if you've got the money to make a statement, however, you probably won't find a better statement to make.
#2: Set of Three Blue and White Oriental Design Planters
If you like traditional style, this could be just what you're looking for.
Ideal for small and medium-sized house plants, these planters feature drainage holes and come with gift saucer stands to save your carpets or furniture!
These planters would work particularly well planted with ferns, and placed around a conservatory. They would also make ideal gifts especially for Mothers' Day.
- Set of three
- Great for houseplants
- Drainage holes and base included
- Not designed for larger plants
Value for Money?
Whether for yourself or as a gift, these represent excellent and attractive value for money.
#1: Keter Cozies Set of 2 Plastic Planters
These durable plastic pots feature an attractive knit-inspired design in a choice of three colors. This means you should have no trouble finding the color to suit your room.
Ideal in a living room or bedroom or perhaps placed on a bookshelf, these houseplant planters perfectly blend traditional and contemporary style in a functional way.
These are perfect for small potted plants and the colors look particularly striking when set against ferns.
The pots feature drainage holes and an easy to remove planting insert.
- Comes as a set of two
- Easy maintenance
- Not particularly durable for outdoor use
Value for Money?
If indoor planting is your thing, whether through choice or circumstance, then these attractive, stylish planters might be the perfect addition. Reasonably priced, well-designed, and durable for indoor use, these are a purchase you won't regret.