Five of the best garden pots for summer plants

Summer is here and if you want to get into gardening you will definitely need to find the perfect pots for your baby plants.

Arguably the most intimidating part of transitioning from a balcony to a garden was watching the first one get wrapped up in the back of a moving van.

It wasn’t my first rodeo: three years earlier, I had seen a mature creeping pelargonium unceremoniously halved, then watched the contents of my first balcony unloaded in a parking lot. This time we managed to get them to pass out to the patio, after which it was immediately obvious that I was going to need a lot more pots.

I have gardened in containers – and only containers – for almost a decade and yet the pots themselves remain a kind of holy grail. I don’t know why, but the gaping hole in the market for beautiful, durable containers that don’t cost a bundle has yet to be filled.

After almost a year, I have managed to expand my patio collection. Is there a one stop shop for the right jars? Unfortunately not. Is chasing them fun? Fortunately, yes.

Before you start looking, a few basics. The material of a container is key. In addition to setting the aesthetic tone of your garden, there are also growing conditions to consider. I have explained what you need to know in the box below; the material will affect everything from the amount of money you spend to the amount of watering you do.

Try to figure out what’s best for your plants, rather than what you want them to look like.

Shady urban garden? I would invest in a big stone or Corten steel planters and fill them with ferns and other treats of the woods – divine.

Windy place? The weight and moisture retention of a giant container made from salvaged sleepers will anchor the sway of grasses and wildflowers. Balcony vegetable grower? The plastic troughs will help support the weight and the lifetime bags (perfect size for two zucchini plants) can be emptied and folded up.

Whatever you choose, I always urge people to buy the biggest pots they can afford for several reasons. Larger pots require less maintenance: they dry less quickly and may contain more established plants that require less pampering.

I like larger pots because it means I can plant multiple things in them, all of which will come out at different times of the year. Design-wise, a large, well-planted container will always look better than a bunch of disparate pots; especially in a small place.

My style naturally leans on the scruffy side, so my plants occupy a set of aged terra cotta pots, salvaged fireplace pots, an old metal tub, and two dolly tubs. None of them are less than 20cm in diameter, most are more than 40cm. They contain bulbs and perennials and fill up with the occasional annual thrift store, but mostly take care of themselves.

Their supply has made my inner magpie unstoppable. From my first balcony I have three square composite stone tubs in the darkest gray I almost broke for which now greet me at the back door.

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