metal planters in garden healthy plants

Maintaining Outdoor Planters: Tips For Healthy And Vibrant Plants   

Tending to a garden, especially those that incorporate outdoor planters, can be a rewarding venture. Plants that grace your outdoor space with their presence add colour, texture and a breath of fresh air. We’ve embraced our garden this year and explored a number of options in terms of growing our own fruits, vegetables and beautiful flowers. However, we’ve quickly learned that these plants’ vibrancy and health depend on the care they receive.  

If you’re planning to create a vibrant environment reminiscent of a traditional English landscape, invest some time and effort into some important gardening techniques, planters, and carefully selected flora to bring that picturesque charm to life. By employing these essential elements, your garden will flourish with an enchanting array of colours, scents and textures, evoking the timeless beauty of an idyllic English countryside.

planters metal in garden

As one of the key English garden structures, outdoor planters provide flexibility, allowing you to arrange your flora to best showcase their beauty. This comprehensive guide provides multiple strategies to ensure that the plants in your outdoor planters remain healthy and vibrant. We’ve picked up a number of useful ideas, tips and tricks from social groups and like minded individuals which I like to share with your throughout this post. Let’s get started.

Selecting the right planter 

In gardening, the vessel is just as important as the precious life it carries. Choosing the right planter is a delicate balance of aesthetics and functionality, playing a pivotal role in plant health and growth.

sleeper planter

Consider the following when making your selection: 

  • Choose containers with proper drainage to avoid waterlogging, which increases the likelihood of root rot and other plant diseases. 
  • Planters should have ample room for roots to grow and spread, promoting healthier, more robust plants. 
  • The type of planter material can affect soil temperature and the lifespan of your planter. Choose based on the local climate and the plant species. 
train planters Etsy
Train planters Etsy

We’ve experimented with a number of different planters throughout our garden and each serves their purpose. Taking the time to choose the right planter, be it a traditional outdoor planter or an alternative like a vertical garden, you need to assess your space and environment for the ideal choice.

garden surrounded by planters

Our garden is surrounded by thick wooden planters, custom-made to fit the complexities of our garden terrain. For the middle section, our vegetable patches we selected durable metal corrugated containers that simplify the setup and provide a long-lasting vessel. Check out my DIY planter build:

Just as critical as selecting the right planter, is understanding your plants’ specific needs.  

Understanding and caring for your plants 

Every plant is unique, each with its preferred sunlight exposure, water intake, and temperature range. To help your plants thrive, research the specific needs of your plant species. If you’re cultivating Lavender, understand that it requires full sun, well-drained soil, and little to moderate watering as it’s drought tolerant.

Monitoring plants for stress and disease is essential for maintaining their health and optimising their growth. Early detection of issues allows for timely intervention and prevention of severe damage. Here are some steps to effectively monitor plants for stress and disease:

  1. Regular Observation: Regularly observe your plants to become familiar with their healthy appearance. Healthy plants have vibrant green leaves, sturdy stems, and show vigorous growth.
  2. Know the Symptoms: Learn the common symptoms of plant stress and diseases. These can include wilting, yellowing or browning of leaves, stunted growth, leaf spots, mold or fungal growth, and insect damage.
  3. Check for Pests: Inspect your plants for pests regularly. Look for signs of insects, such as holes in leaves, webbing, or visible bugs on the plant. Use a magnifying glass if necessary to spot smaller pests.
  4. Watering Monitoring: Overwatering or underwatering can stress plants. Monitor soil moisture levels and adjust watering frequency accordingly. Stick your finger about an inch into the soil to feel for moisture, or use a soil moisture meter.
  5. Soil pH and Nutrition: Keep track of soil pH and nutrient levels, as imbalances can cause stress to plants. A soil test kit can help determine the pH and nutrient status of the soil.
  6. Weather Conditions: Be aware of weather conditions in your area. Extreme temperatures, frost, or strong winds can stress plants. Provide protection when needed.
  7. Keep a Garden Journal: Maintain a garden journal to track plant growth, changes in appearance, and any treatments or interventions you apply. This can help you identify patterns and make informed decisions.
  8. Use Plant Apps or Websites: Some plant identification and care apps or websites can help you diagnose common plant issues by comparing pictures and symptoms. These resources can be valuable tools for identifying diseases and finding appropriate remedies.
  9. Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Adopt an integrated approach to pest management. Encourage beneficial insects and natural predators, and use chemical treatments only as a last resort and in a targeted manner.
  10. Quarantine New Plants: When introducing new plants to your garden or indoor space, quarantine them for a period to ensure they don’t bring pests or diseases that could spread to other plants.
  11. Pruning and Plant Hygiene: Regularly prune dead or diseased plant parts to prevent the spread of diseases. Clean your gardening tools between plants to avoid transmitting pathogens.
  12. Consult Experts: If you’re unsure about a plant issue, seek advice from local horticulturists, extension offices, or gardening communities. They may provide valuable insights and solutions.

Understanding your plant’s needs is fundamental to creating a conducive environment for growth. Next, we turn to the foundation of it all – the soil.   

Proper soil selection and preparation 

great soil for planters

Proper soil selection and preparation are crucial steps in ensuring the success and health of your plants. The soil serves as more than just a medium for root growth; it acts as the life source that nourishes and supports the entire plant ecosystem. Here are some top tips of how to choose and prepare the right soil for your plants:

  1. Understanding Soil Types: Different plants have specific soil requirements based on their natural habitats and characteristics. Some prefer sandy soil, which provides excellent drainage, while others thrive in loamy soil, a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay. Some plants, on the other hand, prefer clayey soil, which retains moisture well but may require amendments for better drainage.
  2. Assessing Drainage and Moisture Retention: One of the critical factors in soil selection is its ability to drain excess water while retaining enough moisture for plant uptake. Poor drainage can lead to root rot and other waterlogged soil problems, while inadequate moisture retention can cause plants to wilt and struggle to access necessary nutrients. To assess drainage, observe how quickly water is absorbed and whether it pools on the soil surface. For moisture retention, feel the soil to determine its ability to hold water.
  3. Improving Soil Quality with Organic Matter: Enhancing soil quality with organic matter is essential for promoting healthy plant growth. Adding compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic materials to the soil boosts its fertility and improves its structure. Organic matter increases the soil’s ability to retain moisture, allows for better aeration, and facilitates the release of essential nutrients, all of which contribute to plant health.
  4. Soil Testing: Before planting, consider conducting a soil test to assess its pH and nutrient levels. Soil testing kits are available at garden centers or through local agricultural extension offices. Understanding your soil’s characteristics will help you choose the right plants and determine if any amendments are needed to optimise its fertility.
  5. Amending Soil: Based on the soil test results, you can amend the soil to adjust its pH or nutrient levels. For example, if the soil is too acidic, adding lime can help raise the pH; if it lacks essential nutrients, you can incorporate fertilisers specific to the plants’ needs. However, it’s crucial to follow the recommended application rates to avoid over-fertilisation, which can harm plants.
  6. Soil Aeration: Regularly aerating the soil by gently turning or tilling it helps loosen compacted soil, improves drainage, and allows roots to penetrate more easily. However, be cautious not to overdo it, as excessive tilling can disrupt the soil structure and beneficial microbial activity.

By understanding your plants’ soil requirements and preparing the soil accordingly, you lay the groundwork for their successful growth. In combination with adequate water and proper nutrient management, your plants will have the best possible environment to flourish and thrive.

Watering and feeding your plants

water irrigation system

Watering and feeding your plants are essential aspects of plant care that require careful attention and customisation to ensure they remain healthy and thrive. Here are some key considerations to get the best from your plants:

  1. Watering for Optimal Growth: The watering needs of plants can vary significantly depending on their species, pot size, environmental conditions, and stage of growth. It’s crucial to research and understand the specific water requirements of each plant you have. Some plants prefer consistently moist soil, while others thrive in drier conditions. Factors like humidity, temperature, and air circulation also influence watering frequency. As a general guideline, water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain out, and then wait for the top inch or so of soil to dry before watering again.
  2. Avoiding Overwatering and Underwatering: Both overwatering and underwatering can harm your plants. Overwatering leads to oxygen-deprived roots and creates a conducive environment for root rot and fungal diseases. On the other hand, underwatering deprives plants of necessary hydration and essential nutrients. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves, wilting, and a foul smell from the soil, while under watering often causes wilting, dry and crispy leaves, and soil pulling away from the pot’s edges. Monitor your plants closely and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  3. Feeding Plants with Appropriate Fertilisers: Fertilisers are crucial for providing essential nutrients that plants require for healthy growth. Different stages of growth demand different nutrient ratios. Nitrogen is vital for leafy growth, phosphorus for root development, and potassium for overall plant health and flower production. Consider using slow-release fertilisers for long-term nourishment, or apply liquid fertilisers during the growing season. Be mindful of not over-fertilising, as excessive nutrients can cause nutrient imbalances and harm the plants.
  4. Tailoring Feeding Practices: Customising your feeding routine to suit the specific needs of each plant is essential. Some plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilisation, while others may thrive with minimal feeding. Always refer to the plant’s care guidelines or consult with experts to determine the most suitable feeding schedule and fertiliser type for your plants.
  5. Additional Considerations: Factors like the quality of water used for irrigation can also impact plant health. If tap water contains high levels of chemicals like chlorine, consider using filtered or dechlorinated water. Additionally, consider supplementing your plants with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, which not only provides nutrients but also improves soil structure and promotes beneficial microbial activity.

By carefully tailoring your watering and feeding practices to the specific needs of your plants, you provide them with the best possible care and support for their growth and well-being. With these essential elements covered, let’s explore the often-overlooked art of pruning and other vital aspects of plant care.

Pruning and plant care: The art of plant grooming 

pruning plants

Maintaining the health and vitality of your plants goes beyond providing water and nutrients. Regular grooming, including pruning and vigilant pest monitoring, plays a crucial role in promoting healthier growth and overall plant well-being.

  1. Pruning for Optimal Growth: Pruning involves the selective removal of specific plant parts, such as branches, leaves, or flowers. It serves several important purposes for your plants. Firstly, by trimming away dead or diseased branches, you not only improve the plant’s appearance but also prevent the spread of diseases and pests. Secondly, pruning can encourage the plant to grow more vigorously and bushier by redirecting energy to areas where new growth is desired. Strategic pruning allows more sunlight to reach the inner parts of the plant, enhancing photosynthesis and overall health.
  2. Understanding Pruning Techniques: Different plants require different pruning approaches. For instance, some plants benefit from regular pinching or tip pruning to encourage branching, while others may require more extensive structural pruning to maintain their shape and size. Always use sharp, clean pruning tools to make precise cuts, minimising the risk of damage and infection. Timing is also crucial; prune flowering plants right after blooming, while for deciduous trees, winter is often the best time.
  3. Promptly Addressing Plant Issues: When you identify any problems, take action promptly. Remove affected plant parts, treat diseases with appropriate remedies, and control pests using targeted methods. Quarantine affected plants if necessary to prevent the issue from spreading. Quick and decisive action can make a significant difference in saving the health of your plants.
planter seating area

As we continue our journey in plant care, it’s essential to recognise how it changes with the seasons. Different seasons bring various challenges and opportunities for plant care. For example:

Spring: Spring is a time of renewed growth and the start of the growing season for many plants. It’s a great time to conduct thorough pruning to remove winter damage and shape plants. Focus on providing adequate water and nutrients as plants begin their active growth phase.

Summer: During the hot summer months, plants may need more frequent watering and protection from extreme heat. Regularly deadhead flowers to encourage continuous blooming and keep an eye out for signs of stress or pest infestations.

Autumn: Fall is a time of preparation for winter. Continue monitoring for diseases and pests and clean up fallen leaves to prevent disease spread. Consider planting winter crops or cover crops to enrich the soil during the dormant season.

Winter: In colder climates, winter requires protecting plants from frost and freezing temperatures. Reduce watering for dormant plants and avoid pruning, as it may stimulate new growth susceptible to frost damage.

Understanding the unique needs of your plants throughout the seasons allows you to adapt your care routine and provide the best possible support for their growth and resilience. By embracing the art of plant grooming and being attuned to your plants’ requirements, you can create a thriving and beautiful garden or indoor space that brings joy and satisfaction throughout the year.

Add a personal touch: DIY outdoor planters

Building your planters can add a personalised touch to your garden. Building your planters also allows for customisation to cater to your plant’s needs.

how to make a raised bed

I’ve built a number of planters now, each unique and customised to their required function. Wooden planters are super easy to build and it’s a fun, rewarding process.

  • Consider the size, depth, or material of your planters. 
  • Custom planters can enhance the health and appearance of your plants. 
Three tier planter Etsy
Three-tier planter Etsy

After mastering the art of DIY planters, it’s time to think beyond just plants.  

Looking beyond plant care: Embracing sustainability 

metal planters vegetables

Taking a sustainable approach can enrich not just your garden but the environment as a whole: 

  • For instance, composting kitchen waste can enrich your soil, promoting a richer, more sustainable garden ecosystem. 
  • Employ water-saving methods like mulching. 
  • Choose eco-friendly materials for your planters. 

With these sustainable practices, you’re contributing to a greener earth. Let’s tie everything together in the conclusion.  


Outdoor planters bring charm and elegance to your outdoor space. Choosing the right planter, understanding your plants’ needs, selecting and preparing the proper soil, mindful watering and feeding, regular pruning and seasonal care, DIY planter building, and sustainable planting practices are all integral to maintaining vibrant plant life. When these components harmoniously unite, you create a verdant sanctuary that captivates all senses, fostering an environment where nature thrives in all its glory. Now, equipped with this knowledge, you’re ready to create healthier, happier planters!

Leave a Reply