Which Plants Grow Best in Pots?

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Growing plants in pots gives the gardener the flexibility to garden indoors or outdoors year around. Small spaces or poor growing conditions need not limit the gardener who chooses potted planting, since many plants grown in-ground will thrive in pots. Potted plants in the home bring nature indoors during the coldest winter months, extending the season for garden enthusiasts. Provide the appropriate light, water, soil and feeding for each plant, and always use pots of ample size and good drainage.

Bulbs and Annuals

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Bulbs that can be grown in the garden can be potted. For outdoor spring bloom, hyacinth, daffodils and narcissus, tulips, grape hyacinth and crocus thrive in pots. These bulbs may also be potted for forced indoor winter blooming. Potted amaryllis is sold to be grown indoors. Amaryllis comes in red, pink or white and displays large, showy flowers indoors in midwinter. For summer bloom outdoors, pot both Asiatic and Oriental varieties of lilies.

The colourful blooming annuals available in nurseries in spring can be potted for outdoor seasonal interest. Pansies, petunias, calibrachoa, impatiens, primula, sweet alyssum, geraniums and snapdragons are widely available. Some may be started from seed directly sowed in the pots.

Shrubs and Perennials

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Butterfly bush, roses, bougainvillea, rhododendron and azaleas are all good blooming shrubs for potting. Small evergreen shrubs including conifers and boxwood are successful in containers. Many evergreen shrubs can be pruned as topiary. Chrysanthemums, miniature roses, garden phlox, gardenias and fuchsias are among the blooming perennials for successful potting. Depending on your climate, some shrubs and perennials may need to be overwintered in a protected place such as a shed or garage, or indoors.

Vegetables, Herbs and Berries

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Tomatoes and peppers are a good choice for large pots in a sunny spot on the balcony or patio. Carrots will thrive in a deep, roomy pot. Lettuce, radish, garlic and cucumbers are successful in pots. Potted herbs grown indoors in a sunny window or seasonally outdoors will provide fresh clippings for year-round cooking. Rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, culinary sage, basil, cilantro and parsley are easy to cultivate in pots. Nasturtium is a trailing, flowering edible annual. For an attractive display, plant nasturtium seeds around the edge of a large pot planted with mixed herbs.

Strawberries and blueberries are great for potting. Specially designed strawberry pots are commercially available.


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Houseplants can thrive for decades in pots. Widely available green plants for indoors include several varieties of philodendron, Deffenbachia, rubber plants, many different Dracaena cultivars and several ornamental palm varieties. Crotons, Coleus and Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) are houseplants that have colourful foliage. Keep these in sunny spots for optimum colouration.

Blooming plants that can be potted for indoors include gardenias, geraniums, begonias and fuchsias. Fuchsias and some begonias may be grown in hanging baskets. In frost-free months, houseplants may be moved outdoors to a shaded porch or patio if they can be protected from damaging winds and summer storms.

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