Good compost will help your plants thrive, but poor plants will have a hard time growing your plants. Which? Gardening Magazine tests compost every year to make sure your pots are full of life all summer long.
We tested 25 composts by growing geraniums and potatoes as many gardeners across the country do.
Find out which best compost for containers
The best compost for containers
When we test the compost in the bins, we assess the size and health of our plants throughout the summer and count the number of flowers on the geraniums and the number and weight of potatoes. We are looking for large potatoes that are easy to clean for cooking.
Our tests have shown that peat-free compost produces great plants and therefore the two highest values in our test were given the best buy. In fact, we do not believe in the need to use peat-based peat for patio pots.
For reasons why it is best not to use peat, please see our instructions molar compost
What to grow
We found petunias, fuchsias, pelargoniums, begonias and diascia flowers all summer long. Choose a hanging variety to hang baskets, but for pots, choose a combination of upright plants for the center of your pot and hanging varieties to be pulled over the side.
Vegetables also work well in pots and baskets. In addition to potatoes, you can also grow carrots, lettuce, zucchini and many other vegetables in pots. Salads such as tomatoes, peppers and chilies are very popular on sunny terraces.
Read our tips on growing tomatoes and best types to hang baskets
For an impressive display, you need a good pot or hanging basket. Which? Gardening has found ideal hanging baskets that are approximately 35 cm wide at the top and have a conical shape as this traps moisture so you do not need to water as often.
Contact us for more help and advice Instructions for planting a hanging basket
Take care of your pots
Remember to water regularly. Most pots and baskets need watering every day during the summer and more on very hot days.
All plants need fertilizer and most compost contains only enough food for a few weeks, so you need to add a little more yourself. The easiest way to do this is with Controlled release fertilizerwhich provides food for many months when the plants need it. Mix it with compost when you plant your pots and baskets.
You can also use the liquid feed you give each week. Mix it in your water can when you water your pots and baskets.
Where can I buy plants?
Bedding plants and young vegetables usually come to garden centers from Easter. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, you can buy it early but keep it sheltered until the weather warms up. If you do not have a greenhouse, wait a few weeks before you buy for the frost to pass as it can easily die from frost.
Can you buy plants online and which ones? When gardening, there was a big difference between the quality of the plants and the service.
Check out ours Plug-plant suppliers Recommendation for finding a reliable company.