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Growing plants in
containers
Anyone can grow plants in containers.
The different types of ornamentals
(flowers), fruit and vegetables that you
can grow is surprisingly large. It is also
amazing how many things can be recycled to make containers.

Planting up your container
Why peat free?
1.

Peat is a soil-like material made
up of partly rotted organic matter
(things that have once lived).
It is still used in many composts.

Choose your
container. Check
that it has drainage
holes at the bottom.
If it hasn’t, make a
few in the bottom.

The peat is taken from peat bogs
where rare plants live. Bogs take
thousands of years to develop
and are getting smaller as the
peat is used by gardeners. To do
your bit and help preserve (keep)
this habitat use peat-free
composts.

Suitable Containers
You can use many different types of
container to plant in. Some
suggestions for containers include:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

tied bundles of newspaper
buckets
plastic storage boxes
half barrels
old bins
containers made from pallets
old chimney pots
old sinks

Remember, unless you are growing
bog plants, the containers will need to
have drainage holes.

2. Use broken bits of
clay pots or flat stones
to cover the holes. Fill
the pot until a quarter
full. This stops the holes
getting blocked by soil.

3.

Fill with potting compost
or good garden soil . If
you cannot find an
organic potting compost
then buy a peat-free
compost.

Growing in containers—A Student’s Guide

4.

You can now start to plant up
your container. Suggestions of
suitable plants are given on the
back of this leaflet.

5.

Once your container is planted
you must remember to water it
regularly. Plants in pots need
watering more often because the
soil dries out faster.
Vegetable varieties to grow in containers

Flowers to grow in containers

Vegetable

Suitable
variety

When to sow

Spacing/pot
size

Plant

Latin Name When to
sow

Height x
spread

Broad
Bean

The Sutton

March to April

4 per 10
litre pot

Bergamot

Monarda
didyma

April

1m x45cm

French
Bean

Purple
Teepee

Late April to
mid-May

4 per 10
litre pot

Candytuft

Iberis
umbelleta

April-May

15cm-30cm
x 20cm

Carrot

Any early va- March to April
rieties

Plant 4cm
apart

Chives

Autumn

12cm-25cm
x 5-10cm

Chard

Ruby or
Lucullus

1 per 4 litre
pot

Allium
schoenoprasum

Honesty

Courgette

Ambassador, Late April to
Early Gem
mid-May

1 per 30
litre pot

Lunaria
annua

May or June 60cm-90cm
for next year x 30cm

Cucumber

Bush crop,
Burpless
Tasty Green

1 per 30
litre pot

Love-in-amist

Nigella

Autumn or
Early spring

45cm x
22cm

Pot Marigold

Calendula
officinalis

Autumn or
Spring

30cm x
30cm

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum February to
April

15cm x
upto 180cm

Perennial
cornflower

Centaurea
dealbata

September
or April

30cm-45cm
x 30cm

Phlox

Phlox
paniculata

March to
April

15cm–
30cm x
22cm

Poached
egg plant

Limnanthes March
douglasii

15cm x
10cm

Small
Scabious

Scabiosa
columbaria

30cm x
15cm

Spring
Crocus

Crocus spp. September
to October

20cm

Sunflower

Helianthus
‘Sungold’

60cm x
30cm

Wallflower

Cheiranthus May to July
cheiri

Growing in
containers

Leek

April

Late April to
mid-May

King Richard March to July
(in
succession)

Plant 4cm
apart

Onion

Any variety
from sets

March to April

7.5cm—
10cm apart

Pea

Kelvedon
Wonder

March to June 8 per 10
(successional) litre pot

Pepper

Redskin

Late March to
early April

Potato

Early
February to
varieties only March
June to July

Radish

Any variety

Tomato

Pixie, Totem, Late March to
Tumbler
Early April

1 per 10
litre pot
2 per 60
litre pot

March to June Sow 2.5cm
apart
1 per 15
litre pot

September
or March

April

23cm-60cm
x 20-30cm

A student’s guide to
growing plants in
containers.
Garden Organic
for Schools
Growing plants in
containers
Container planting is ideal for schools. It is
particularly suitable where there are no available areas of soil, or where large
expanses of tarmac need improvement. The
range of ornamentals, fruit and vegetables
that can be grown is surprisingly large, and it
is an easy activity for all pupils.

Planting up your container

1.

Choose, adapt or
make the container.
Check that it has
drainage holes. If it
hasn’t, make a few in
the bottom.

Why peat free?
Peat is still used in many potting
composts. The peat is taken from peat
bogs which destroys habitats. Bogs
are getting smaller as peat is used by
gardeners. To do your bit and help
preserve these precious sites - use
4.

Containers can be used for growing shrubs
and insect-attracting flowers as well as some
vegetables. They can also be used for creating a worm bin, compost heap, a pond or liquid plant food.

2.
Using broken bits of
clay pots or flat stones to
cover the holes. Fill the pot to
a quarter full with the broken
pots/stones. This stops the
holes getting blocked by soil.

Suitable Containers
Students can create a range of
different planting sites using different types of
container. It is amazing how many things can
be recycled to make containers.
Some suggestions for containers* include:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

tied bundles of newspaper
buckets
plastic storage boxes
half barrels
old bins
containers made from pallets
old chimney pots

* Remember unless you are growing
bog plants the containers will need to
have drainage holes.

Start to plant up your container. Suggestions of plants that you can use are
given on the back of this
leaflet.

5.

Once the container is planted it is important to water it regularly. Plants in
pots need watering more often, because the containers dry out quickly.

Further Reading
3.

Fill with compost. If you can
not find an organic potting
compost then buy a peat-free
compost.

Grow your own organic vegetables—
Getting started—Garden Organic Guide
Grow your own organic fruit—
Getting started—Garden Organic Guide
Growing Naturally— A Teachers Guide to
Organic Gardening—Maggi Brown,
Southgate 1996

Growing in containers—A Teacher’s Guide
Vegetable varieties to grow in containers

Flowers to grow in containers

Vegetable

Suitable
variety

When to sow

Spacing/pot
size

Plant

Latin Name When to
sow

Height x
spread

Broad
Bean

The Sutton

March to April

4 per 10
litre pot

Bergamot

Monarda
didyma

April

1m x45cm

French
Bean

Purple
Teepee

Late April to
mid-May

4 per 10
litre pot

Candytuft

Iberis
umbelleta

April-May

15cm-30cm
x 20cm

Carrot

Any early va- March to April
rieties

Plant 4cm
apart

Chives

Autumn

12cm-25cm
x 5-10cm

Chard

Ruby or
Lucullus

1 per 4 litre
pot

Allium
schoenoprasum

Honesty

Courgette

Ambassador, Late April to
Early Gem
mid-May

1 per 30
litre pot

Lunaria
annua

May or June 60cm-90cm
for next year x 30cm

Cucumber

Bush crop,
Burpless
Tasty Green

1 per 30
litre pot

Love-in-amist

Nigella

Autumn or
Early spring

45cm x
22cm

Pot Marigold

Calendula
officinalis

Autumn or
Spring

30cm x
30cm

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum February to
April

15cm x
upto 180cm

Perennial
cornflower

Centaurea
dealbata

September
or April

30cm-45cm
x 30cm

Phlox

Phlox
paniculata

March to
April

15cm–
30cm x
22cm

Poached
egg plant

Limnanthes March
douglasii

15cm x
10cm

Small
Scabious

Scabiosa
columbaria

30cm x
15cm

Spring
Crocus

Crocus spp. September
to October

20cm

Sunflower

Helianthus
‘Sungold’

60cm x
30cm

Wallflower

Cheiranthus May to July
cheiri

Growing in
containers

Leek

April

Late April to
mid-May

King Richard March to July
(in
succession)

Plant 4cm
apart

Onion

Any variety
from sets

March to April

7.5cm—
10cm apart

Pea

Kelvedon
Wonder

March to June 8 per 10
(successional) litre pot

Pepper

Redskin

Late March to
early April

Potato

Early
February to
varieties only March
June to July

Radish

Any variety

Tomato

Pixie, Totem, Late March to
Tumbler
Early April

1 per 10
litre pot
2 per 60
litre pot

March to June Sow 2.5cm
apart
1 per 15
litre pot

September
or March

April

23cm-60cm
x 20-30cm

A teacher’s guide to
growing plants in
Garden Organic
for Schools

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A Student’s Guide to Growing Plants in Containers

  • 1. Growing plants in containers Anyone can grow plants in containers. The different types of ornamentals (flowers), fruit and vegetables that you can grow is surprisingly large. It is also amazing how many things can be recycled to make containers. Planting up your container Why peat free? 1. Peat is a soil-like material made up of partly rotted organic matter (things that have once lived). It is still used in many composts. Choose your container. Check that it has drainage holes at the bottom. If it hasn’t, make a few in the bottom. The peat is taken from peat bogs where rare plants live. Bogs take thousands of years to develop and are getting smaller as the peat is used by gardeners. To do your bit and help preserve (keep) this habitat use peat-free composts. Suitable Containers You can use many different types of container to plant in. Some suggestions for containers include: • • • • • • • • tied bundles of newspaper buckets plastic storage boxes half barrels old bins containers made from pallets old chimney pots old sinks Remember, unless you are growing bog plants, the containers will need to have drainage holes. 2. Use broken bits of clay pots or flat stones to cover the holes. Fill the pot until a quarter full. This stops the holes getting blocked by soil. 3. Fill with potting compost or good garden soil . If you cannot find an organic potting compost then buy a peat-free compost. Growing in containers—A Student’s Guide 4. You can now start to plant up your container. Suggestions of suitable plants are given on the back of this leaflet. 5. Once your container is planted you must remember to water it regularly. Plants in pots need watering more often because the soil dries out faster.
  • 2. Vegetable varieties to grow in containers Flowers to grow in containers Vegetable Suitable variety When to sow Spacing/pot size Plant Latin Name When to sow Height x spread Broad Bean The Sutton March to April 4 per 10 litre pot Bergamot Monarda didyma April 1m x45cm French Bean Purple Teepee Late April to mid-May 4 per 10 litre pot Candytuft Iberis umbelleta April-May 15cm-30cm x 20cm Carrot Any early va- March to April rieties Plant 4cm apart Chives Autumn 12cm-25cm x 5-10cm Chard Ruby or Lucullus 1 per 4 litre pot Allium schoenoprasum Honesty Courgette Ambassador, Late April to Early Gem mid-May 1 per 30 litre pot Lunaria annua May or June 60cm-90cm for next year x 30cm Cucumber Bush crop, Burpless Tasty Green 1 per 30 litre pot Love-in-amist Nigella Autumn or Early spring 45cm x 22cm Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis Autumn or Spring 30cm x 30cm Nasturtium Tropaeolum February to April 15cm x upto 180cm Perennial cornflower Centaurea dealbata September or April 30cm-45cm x 30cm Phlox Phlox paniculata March to April 15cm– 30cm x 22cm Poached egg plant Limnanthes March douglasii 15cm x 10cm Small Scabious Scabiosa columbaria 30cm x 15cm Spring Crocus Crocus spp. September to October 20cm Sunflower Helianthus ‘Sungold’ 60cm x 30cm Wallflower Cheiranthus May to July cheiri Growing in containers Leek April Late April to mid-May King Richard March to July (in succession) Plant 4cm apart Onion Any variety from sets March to April 7.5cm— 10cm apart Pea Kelvedon Wonder March to June 8 per 10 (successional) litre pot Pepper Redskin Late March to early April Potato Early February to varieties only March June to July Radish Any variety Tomato Pixie, Totem, Late March to Tumbler Early April 1 per 10 litre pot 2 per 60 litre pot March to June Sow 2.5cm apart 1 per 15 litre pot September or March April 23cm-60cm x 20-30cm A student’s guide to growing plants in containers. Garden Organic for Schools
  • 3. Growing plants in containers Container planting is ideal for schools. It is particularly suitable where there are no available areas of soil, or where large expanses of tarmac need improvement. The range of ornamentals, fruit and vegetables that can be grown is surprisingly large, and it is an easy activity for all pupils. Planting up your container 1. Choose, adapt or make the container. Check that it has drainage holes. If it hasn’t, make a few in the bottom. Why peat free? Peat is still used in many potting composts. The peat is taken from peat bogs which destroys habitats. Bogs are getting smaller as peat is used by gardeners. To do your bit and help preserve these precious sites - use 4. Containers can be used for growing shrubs and insect-attracting flowers as well as some vegetables. They can also be used for creating a worm bin, compost heap, a pond or liquid plant food. 2. Using broken bits of clay pots or flat stones to cover the holes. Fill the pot to a quarter full with the broken pots/stones. This stops the holes getting blocked by soil. Suitable Containers Students can create a range of different planting sites using different types of container. It is amazing how many things can be recycled to make containers. Some suggestions for containers* include: • • • • • • • tied bundles of newspaper buckets plastic storage boxes half barrels old bins containers made from pallets old chimney pots * Remember unless you are growing bog plants the containers will need to have drainage holes. Start to plant up your container. Suggestions of plants that you can use are given on the back of this leaflet. 5. Once the container is planted it is important to water it regularly. Plants in pots need watering more often, because the containers dry out quickly. Further Reading 3. Fill with compost. If you can not find an organic potting compost then buy a peat-free compost. Grow your own organic vegetables— Getting started—Garden Organic Guide Grow your own organic fruit— Getting started—Garden Organic Guide Growing Naturally— A Teachers Guide to Organic Gardening—Maggi Brown, Southgate 1996 Growing in containers—A Teacher’s Guide
  • 4. Vegetable varieties to grow in containers Flowers to grow in containers Vegetable Suitable variety When to sow Spacing/pot size Plant Latin Name When to sow Height x spread Broad Bean The Sutton March to April 4 per 10 litre pot Bergamot Monarda didyma April 1m x45cm French Bean Purple Teepee Late April to mid-May 4 per 10 litre pot Candytuft Iberis umbelleta April-May 15cm-30cm x 20cm Carrot Any early va- March to April rieties Plant 4cm apart Chives Autumn 12cm-25cm x 5-10cm Chard Ruby or Lucullus 1 per 4 litre pot Allium schoenoprasum Honesty Courgette Ambassador, Late April to Early Gem mid-May 1 per 30 litre pot Lunaria annua May or June 60cm-90cm for next year x 30cm Cucumber Bush crop, Burpless Tasty Green 1 per 30 litre pot Love-in-amist Nigella Autumn or Early spring 45cm x 22cm Pot Marigold Calendula officinalis Autumn or Spring 30cm x 30cm Nasturtium Tropaeolum February to April 15cm x upto 180cm Perennial cornflower Centaurea dealbata September or April 30cm-45cm x 30cm Phlox Phlox paniculata March to April 15cm– 30cm x 22cm Poached egg plant Limnanthes March douglasii 15cm x 10cm Small Scabious Scabiosa columbaria 30cm x 15cm Spring Crocus Crocus spp. September to October 20cm Sunflower Helianthus ‘Sungold’ 60cm x 30cm Wallflower Cheiranthus May to July cheiri Growing in containers Leek April Late April to mid-May King Richard March to July (in succession) Plant 4cm apart Onion Any variety from sets March to April 7.5cm— 10cm apart Pea Kelvedon Wonder March to June 8 per 10 (successional) litre pot Pepper Redskin Late March to early April Potato Early February to varieties only March June to July Radish Any variety Tomato Pixie, Totem, Late March to Tumbler Early April 1 per 10 litre pot 2 per 60 litre pot March to June Sow 2.5cm apart 1 per 15 litre pot September or March April 23cm-60cm x 20-30cm A teacher’s guide to growing plants in Garden Organic for Schools