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Patch Urban Gardening Course

How to pick the right plants for your container garden

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How to pick the right plants for your container garden?

Picking plants for your outdoor space might seem a bit daunting, but there are a few useful things to think about that can help you get started.

First, always consider the natural environment that your space most closely matches, as all plants are at home in different conditions. Some will prefer lots of sunlight, whereas others like shady spots, for example. Some won’t put up with windy conditions too well whereas others will be in their element. Choosing plants that suit your space means they’re more likely to thrive.

Remember that outdoor plants often experience more seasonal changes than their indoor counterparts, such as by only flowering for a couple of months each year or dropping their leaves over winter. This could affect whether you want to choose them for your space.

Next, think about how much effort you want to put into the upkeep of your outdoor space. Different plants last for different lengths of time. Here’s the need to know:

Annuals are plants that grow from seed, flower, go to seed and die within the space of a year. Once they’ve died, you’ll need to replace them.

Biennials are plants that complete their life cycle over two years. In the first, they’ll usually just grow leaves. In the second year they’ll also produce flowers and seeds, after which they will die, and need replacing.

Perennial plants put out flowers and seeds year after year, although they have different lifespans. Some will last for a few years, others will pop up again and again for decades.

Evergreen plants will keep their leaves green all year round. Some may look the same all year, whereas others may flower.

Seasonal plants will only produce foliage, and possibly flowers, during a particular season. For some plants this season will last a couple of months, but for others it can last for half the year. Most, but not all, do their thing in spring and summer and go dormant in winter.

So how do all of these affect your own plant choices?

In urban gardens space is often in limited supply, so you probably want to make the most of it with a full, beautiful garden, rather than one that looks rubbish for months at a time. Evergreen plants will look lively year-round, but rarely offer much by way of colour or flowers. Seasonals can provide this, but also need to be replaced from time to time.

Annuals look great for a season or two but then need replacing. Most gardens look best with a little bit of everything - some reliable evergreens to provide structure and interest all year, some seasonal and perennial plants to enjoy when they are at their best and annuals for a little shake-up every year. You can see all of our outdoor plants hereget all of these on the Patch website.