Advice Sheets

Container Planting Advice from Kelvedon in Bloom



There are several containers on the market with water reservoirs – look for these. Most of the advice below will help whichever containers you use. See our Watering Leaflet for other advice.


½ Barrels – You need to drill 3 x 2 inch diameter holes in the bottom to stop the wood rotting.


First layer - place crocks in the bottom, or a piece of fabric and 2 inches depth of gravel to allow drainage and prevent the plants getting waterlogged.


Second layer - rotted down garden compost (or buy soil improver from the Witham Recycling Centre) mixed with shredded newspaper keeps the soil moist.


Third layer – use good compost like Westland or Erin – look for it when it’s on offer (buy 2 get 1 free) – and mix it, if you can, with some garden or packet topsoil.


Forth layer - after planting, sprinkle between the plants with plant food granules or chicken manure pellets then use a bark mulch as this will also help retain water and prevent the wind and sun from drying out the surface of the soil – it also protects the plants leaves from splashing with muddy soil.


Plant food granules or chicken manure pellets will slowly release nutriments to feed your plants, but put them on top, or else you will burn the roots. The granules will last up to six weeks, but will take longer to get going, so a good liquid fertilizer like Tomorite, which can be used on most plants, including ericaceous, is recommended for use   immediately after planting. The liquid fertilizers are better then the powders as you don’t get a film of white on the plants after watering.



  • Please read all instructions on packets and bottles.
  • Store in a sensible, dry place out of reach of children.

Most bottles have childproof lids – but children are getting clever and smaller children, having a habit of putting things in their mouth, can lick the outside of bottles, where a drip may be all it takes to make them ill.


  Happy Container Gardening from



Watering Instructions




Some people are unsure of watering instructions

Here are the meanings!


Water sparingly

This does not mean a little water frequently –

 it actually means water a lot, but not often!

If in a border, water when the top six inches are dry.


Water moderately

Means thoroughly soak but not frequently!

An indication of when to do this in a border is when the top two inches are dry!


How much to water


A dry border needs at least an inch per watering.

One way to test this is to put a shallow straight-sided dish or jam jar in the border at intervals – then you can measure the quantity. If using a sprinkler system, time the watering, then you will know how long to leave the sprinkler on another time.

Pots and containers in the garden dry out quickly. A good idea is to use the sort with a reservoir – but this still needs topping up daily in the Summer, less frequently in Winter/

Just because it has rained, don’t expect your pots to be watered sufficiently.


In the Summer, indoor pot plants need a good soaking in a bowl or sink once a week. You can top up with a jug or watering can between times. Rain water is very good for house plants – if you have access to this.

In the Winter, soak pot plants about every three weeks to a month and top up as necessary.


Do not forget to feed your plants in the growing season – which is different for each plant!