One of the easiest ways to enjoy gardening from a sitting position is to grow plants in containers. You can use containers to provide the right conditions for different plants – such as acid-loving types. A wide variety of plants including vegetables, herbs – even small fruit trees – can all be grown in containers to make the best use of limited space.
Top tips to make growing in containers easier
Make sure there is good access all round your containers or that you can reach them comfortably from your chair or wheelchair.
- Save the work of lifting bulbs or tender plants by planting them in pots or wire baskets in the border.
- You will find it easier to water containers if you group them together. However, you can save watering time by putting containers where they will be reached by the rain.
- Water-retaining granules can really save on watering, and slow-release fertilizer is an easy way to feed.
- Decide what works best for you – high beds, called raised beds, that bring the soil surface close, or lower beds and containers that you can reach with longer handled tools. Find out more about raised beds
If you use a wheelchair, bear in mind that with a higher raised bed, you will be sitting side-on, which can involve twisting and stretching.
- It can be easier to work from the corners of a high raised bed. Place your ‘good side’ next to the bed and it might be easier to reach into the bed.
- Some people who use a wheelchair prefer a raised bed that is level with the base of their chair – others prefer a higher bed - see what feels comfortable for you.
- Container plants need a lot more watering and feeding than plants in the ground. Don’t have so many that you are exhausted with the effort. If you have lots of containers, you might want to look into automatic watering systems.
- Containers are also heavy to carry and move, so don’t be tempted to try to lift heavy pots by hand. Save straining your back by using a pot-mover trolley.
Hints and tips
Plants in pots can be placed in beds or sunk into borders to change the display.
- Plastic containers hold moisture better than clay or earthenware and you can line hanging baskets with plastic to retain moisture.
- A layer of gravel or shingle on the top of the compost will improve drainage through the pot and reduce weeds.
- Saucers underneath your pots will help retain water, but remove these in the winter or in prolonged wet weather.
- Add crocks in the base of the container under a layer of shingle for drainage.
- Interesting trellis and plant supports extend the range of plants you can grow in containers and can act as useful screens.
Equipment and tools
Choose frost-proof pots.
- Ideas for new pot displays are often shown at the big flower shows, so check magazines and your garden centre for ideas.
- Wheeled pot stands make the job of changing displays a little easier.
- Hanging baskets are best hung using a Hi-Lo pulley to avoid reaching up to tend them but always avoid sitting or standing beneath any basket which is above head height.