How To Grow Shrubs In Containers

Planting shrubs in containers is a common gardening practice for many reasons.

Growing plants in grow bags or containers is a viable option for several reasons, including the desire to cultivate species poorly suited to your climate, and those related to space constraints. As a bonus, they can improve the visual appeal of a deck or patio.

Growing shrubs in containers is very similar to growing them on the ground. Both have equivalent planting and growing needs.

The primary difference is that you must pay more attention to plant’s water, sunlight, and nutrient demands. This is because they are being planted in a limited location and may spend some time indoors for at least part of the year.

Planting Instructions

  • Once you’ve decided on a plant and a container, it’s time to get planting! To prevent drainage holes from blocking due to soil, line the bottom of the pot with porous landscaping fabric or rocks before planting your shrub.
  • Carefully loosen the soil around the outside of the root ball once you’ve taken the plant out of its nursery pot. Root-bound plants can be untangled by gently shaking them or spraying them with water from the hose. This will help to loosen some of the soil, then pry them apart.
  • Transfer the soil mixture (sand, compost, and potting soil) to your chosen new container. Garden soil doesn’t drain well enough to be used for container growth and can lead to rot.
  • You can plant tropical shrubs in a mixture without soil or with shredded pine bark instead of the potting soil that the nursery recommends.
  • Spread a thin layer of potting soil at the bottom of the container before placing the plant inside. If the tops of the roots sit more than an inch below the rim, adjust the amount of potting soil in the container.
  • Once the plant is in place, put more potting soil around the base of the roots and tamp it down to get rid of any air pockets.
  • The finished soil level should completely cover the roots.
  • To insulate the shrub, shield the soil, and retain moisture, cover the top with half an inch of crushed rocks, moss, wood chips, compost, manure or use vermicompost.
  • Water thoroughly until the water is dripping from the bottom of the pot’s drainage holes.

What shrub grows well in containers?

  • Rhododendron

A lovely splash of color appears early in the spring, and dwarf types are ideal for containers because they never exceed 32 inches in height.

Around 900 unique colors are available, including every shade of white, yellow, pink, red, and even purple.

  • Boxwood

This is the most well-known type of container shrub due to its adaptability in terms of pruning. Topiary is a popular hobby; almost any kind can be successfully grown in a container. With some careful pruning, you can make it look as lovely in January as it does in July.

  • Camellias

Camellias are a beautiful addition to any garden, with their glossy, evergreen leaves and waxy, red or pink blooms similar to the Magnolia tree.

They flower when few other plants do, so you may use them to lengthen the period of time that your shrubs are in bloom.

  • Hydrangea 

This low-maintenance plant responds well to pruning to keep it small enough for a pot.

After the initial blooming period ends in late spring or early summer, it can be clipped to encourage a second flush of hydrangea flowers in late summer or fall.

What evergreen shrubs do well in containers?

If your soil isn’t acidic enough to support their growth, growing them in containers is a great alternative. Some choices thrive in either full sunlight or moderate shade.

  • Hebes

Most species of Hebes are suitable for use as evergreens in a container garden. For instance, “Pink Elephant” is a wonderful choice.

At warmer temperatures, the entire plant turns a pretty pink, which takes on a deep purple hue at cooler temperatures. Throughout the summer months, little white blossoms are also a bonus.

  • Aucuba japonica

This medium-sized shrub features little purple flowers and huge, glossy red berries. In addition, its lovely evergreen leaves can be variegated. It may function effectively in either partial or full shade.

What soil do shrubs need in containers?

Many plants, when grown in pots, require moist soil that drains well. Root rot and other deadly or destructive plant diseases are common results of consistently damp soil.

Most shrubs do best when potted in soil-based potting mixes. Use an ericaceous mix with the right micronutrients for acid-loving shrubs, including heathers, rhododendrons and azaleas.

The potting mix should already contain perlite, or you can add it as a separate ingredient. Because perlite keeps the soil bright and drains quickly, the roots have little trouble getting the oxygen they need.

How often should you water shrubs in pots?

Shrubs that are grown in pots benefit from rain, and you should place them so that they get rainwater when it rains. Shrubs in containers usually need nearly constant watering.

Plants in containers need more water as their roots expand. This is to provide proper structural support for the plant’s further growth. During hot, dry weather, check the soil moisture level of your potted shrub every day.

This is especially important as your plant nears maturity. Don’t let the soil dry up entirely before watering deeper than the top three to four inches. If you have a sizable container garden, drip irrigation is an excellent choice for simplifying watering.

How long can you keep shrubs in pots?

As long as the container is large enough, shrubs can spend their entire lives in containers. Bacteria and mold can spread more easily in a pot. Keep an eye on the plant’s soil, water, and light water conditions.

Shrubs have an average lifespan of seven to ten years. Yet, it would help if you still took care to provide the best environment possible for your plants. Before you put your new shrub into its container, make sure to give it a good cleaning.

Can shrubs survive winter in pots?

Any containers you leave outside in winter should be frost-proof and resistant to cracking or flaking. Most climates require additional protection for glazed or terracotta ceramic pots.

A plastic pots or resin planter will be ideal if you intend to keep the shrub permanently. Choose hardy plants in one or two zones cooler than your garden.

This is true if you place your container garden in a more exposed setting, such as a deck or roof garden.

This will ensure the plants have a great winter with minimal extra care on your part. You can use layers of burlap or horticultural fabric to insulate the roots and soil in planters.

Shrubs that do well all year round

  • Daphne

This shrub is quite attractive because of the clusters of fragrant pink flowers it bears. Midwinter through early spring is its prime time to flower.

There are blooms, beautiful dark green foliage with golden edges, and scarlet berries when the flowers have faded. It’s low maintenance to cultivate and has a wonderful fragrance as well.

This evergreen shrub has clusters of beautiful pink flowers as a bonus. It’s in full bloom from the middle of winter to the beginning of spring. Dark green, glossy leaves with golden borders frame the flowers.

Scarlet berries follow these once the blooms have faded. Growing requires little care and rewards its caretakers with a delightful aroma.

  • Kaleidoscope

This shrub is a great choice for a decorative background plant because its leaves change colors all the time. It has flame-colored evergreen foliage with a gold and orange color scheme.

  • Abelia

If you have a bit of shade in your yard and want a fragrant plant that blooms late in the season, abelia is the way to go. The trumpet-shaped flowers emit a jasmine-like aroma, luring in pollinators and nectar-hungry winged creatures.

This shrub’s lustrous, dark green leaves turn an appealing bronze-red in late autumn, and tiny white flowers bloom on it.

  • Azalea

This high-quality blooming shrub is available in a wide range of sizes and hues. Moist soil with filtered sunlight is ideal. To get the greatest results, choose a nutrient-dense, acidic medium.

  • Forsythia

Forsythia’s bright canary-yellow flowers, which remain for up to two weeks, are like the first rays of sunshine after winter’s long, dark days. Despite its short bloom duration, this shrub is definitely worth growing.

This is due to its delightful explosion of yellow blooms. Forsythia bushes, with their loose, arching branches, are best used as border plants or background accents.

Other Tips about Container Gardening with Shrubs

  • Repot every three years

After growing for a while in their current pots, shrubs need a bigger one to fit their spreading roots. You should replant shrubs every three years at the absolute minimum.

  • Water in the cold months

It’s common knowledge that the summer heat dries out the soil in containers, but did you realize that winter winds may do the same thing? If rain or snow isn’t in the forecast, give your pots some water now and then.

  • Avoid Fall Feeding

If you fertilize in the fall, new growth will happen, but it won’t have time to get strong before winter, so it will probably die. This is a form of winter kill that can cause significant damage to the shrub.

  • Find a container that can withstand freezing temperatures

If you want to leave your container outside during the winter, it needs to be able to handle the cold. Although terra cotta pots are lovely, fiberglass ones are more practical.

Improve your garden with potted shrubs

Shrubs in pots can be used in many different types of gardens and landscapes. This is because of the wide variety of container styles and sizes available.

They’re versatile and useful; you can plant them alone or in combination with other plants.

Hence, a container shrub can be integrated into your landscape no matter where you live or your garden design. Any shrub will do; all you need is a container.