One of my best gardening tips is that many trees, shrubs and perennial plants can be grown in pots. This is a trick I learned as a novice gardener from the great doyenne of gardening, Martha Stewart herself. I love this technique since, come spring, the patio planters do not need to be replanted. They burst into bloom along with the rest of the garden. They overwinter in their pots, right on the terrace, if in a weather resistant pot or in the shed, if the pot is not.
One of my most successful specimens grown in a pot is a red cut-leaf maple sapling I found self-seeding in my garden. I put it in a styrofoam planter that could withstand harsh Pennsylvania winters without risk of cracking. To my great joy, the sapling returned the next year and has continued to thrive. Frustrated with the weeding of the soil around the sapling, I decided to transplant some small leaf hosta plants and underplant the tree. After a couple of years, the hosta has multiplied and now completely fills the base of the tree. No more weeding needed! The gorgeous chartreuse color complements the red of the maple. In about 5 years of growing I have yet to transplant the maple to a bigger pot and don’t fertilize it other than spread tea leaves and coffee grounds on the soil to enrich it. I top off the soil levels when needed.
I grow hydrangea in pots as well and they do extremely well in this environment. One of the added bonus to growing shrubs and trees in pots is that they can be moved around as desired. This was a particularly difficult winter for all hydrangeas in my gardening zone and those in pots fared no worse than those in the ground.
A new addition to my trees-in-pots last year was a white oak sapling given to me on Earth Day, which I underplanted with hellebores.
In a large half whiskey barrel planter I grow a columnar boxwood which provides year round greenery. In the same planter I grow Heuchera, English ivy, blackberry lilies, and spectacular stargazer oriental lilies , all of which return year after year with no effort on my part. I add pansies in the spring and some coleus in summer to supplement the perennial blooms. This planter evens has crocus and daffodil bulbs tucked in it for spring flowers. This perennial planter is designed along the planter principals of providing “thrill-fill-spill” content.
When planning your garden pots, think beyond annuals. Trees, shrubs and perennials are worth experimenting with and will reward you with years of maintenance-free, beautiful plantings. Transplant to larger pots, as needed. Happy gardening!
Here are 2 great articles on growing trees in containers from Houzz: