When we made the decision to
move to France, one of my first thoughts was whether we could bring
all 300+ of my container grown plants with us. True, I could have
replaced them all once here, but when you have nurtured them from
seed to mature plants through many seasons it's like they're almost
part of the family. In the end I decided to bring them all with
me, shipping the majority of them in the same lorry as our furniture.
All the plants were watered well on the morning of the move and
packed into open top boxes that were placed near the top of the
lorry which had a semi-transparent roof. Every one of them survived
the four day journey.
Growing plants in containers in this part of France
is not really that different to the UK. Generally the growing conditions
here are ideal. The season starts earlier and finishes later than
the UK - be prepared for plants to start coming to life up to a
month ahead of the UK. Note, however, that although the weather
is much warmer on average than the UK it can also be more extreme.
Probably the biggest risk for container grown plants
is during the summer. Terracotta and clay pots will dry out very
quickly in hot weather due to their porous nature. It is therefore
very important to water the plants frequently - every day, if it's
really hot. Don't forget to feed the plants once a fortnight during
the growing season to keep them strong and healthy. A lot of nutrients
are washed out of the soil with frequent watering.
For plants in larger terracotta containers one
method that we use to help slow down the water loss is to line the
inside of the pot with clear polythene sheeting. Don't use black
polythene, however, as this will only help to speed up the water
Plants like to be grouped together, but remember to leave some space
around them in humid weather so that air can circulate. This will
help to reduce the risk of diseases such as Mildew.
The location of a plant can be essential to its
survival, especially when placing it in a south facing position.
Because of all the stone (or brick) work a south facing patio or
balcony can easily generate temperatures 10 - 20 degrees above that
of the rest of the garden. More than enough to bake a plant to death
without frequent attention.
Growing in pots has many advantages: you can move
them around the garden to suit the conditions; give pride of place
to plants that are just reaching their peak; and you can take them
with you if you move house.
It’s true that growing plants in containers takes a bit more
effort, but the results can be really rewarding.