Friday, 20 December 2013

Planting in narrow-necked containers

Ah, the scourge of the professional gardener - well, one of many, actually. We'll no doubt come back to some of the others later... anyway, narrow-necked pots are a real pain when you are responsible for the maintenance of the plant within.


Because, traditionally, whatever is within grows a huge solid root-ball, that is too big to pass through the narrow neck.

This leads to all sorts of headaches when it comes to maintaining precious specimens, or simply emptying the pot out, when it's time for something fresh.

I can't tell you how many times I have spent an age, on my knees, chipping away at a rock-hard  tangle of roots, at a terribly awkward angle, whilst trying not to damage the plant, or to damage the pot.

Here's a good example - a very elegant Ali-Baba style pot, which contains a small Fig, just a couple of years old, which needs wrapping against winter frost, partly due to only being a couple of years old, partly due to being in a very windy section of the garden.

The wrapping process, by the way, is exactly the same as for wrapping the hydrangeas, which I seem to be writing about every year: get fleece, get pegs, wrap fleece round plant, hold in place with pegs, tie string. Avoid doing this on windy days. There, all done.

So, getting back to the pot problem - what is a girl to do?

My cunning strategy, employed here, is to get a big plastic flower-pot that slides comfortably within the narrow neck, and plant the chosen specimen within that.  I then just "plunge" the plastic flowerpot into the decorative urn - it all looks lovely, watering is straightforward, but when I need to empty out the pot, I can just pull the flowerpot straight out. Even if it's made roots through the bottom, it still gives me something to get hold of and pull!

So there you are, a simple trick: get a normal plastic pot that fits easily in the decorative pot: sit one inside the other.

And if you tip in some extra soil/compost all around the plastic pot and over the rim no-one will ever know!


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