How to create a container garden for wildlife

How to create a container garden for wildlife

Introduce more wildlife features into a small space using pots and containers

Sow your own mini wildflower meadow in a windowbox, line a pot with plastic to make a potted pond or use walls to create vertical herb displays. 

Make a hanging basket

vertical garden wildlife trust

Cath Hare

  1. Line the container or basket with an old woolly jumper cut to size, or choose a solid basket.
  2. Fill with peat-free compost.
  3. Start planting! Put in a tall, central plant followed by smaller plants around it, and trailing plants through the sides. Here are some ideas:
    Cool blues: aubrieta, lobelia, wild pansy, nepeta
    Hot reds: marigolds, fuchsia
    Neutral whites: sweet alyssum, erigeron, ox-eye daisy
    Tall central plant: knapweed, scabious, lavender, snapdragon, pot marigold
    Herb smellies/eatables: verbena, tomatoes, chives, thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, strawberry, dwarf lavender
    Trailers: ivy, nasturtium, honeysuckle, sweet Pea, lobelia ’pendula’ 
  4. Continue building up plants and compost until about 5 cm from the top.
  5. Feed once a week and water frequently in summer.

Make a meadow pot

Long hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta) on cornflower at Bonhurst Farm, Surrey Wildlife Trust

Long hoverfly on cornflower by James Adler

  1. If needed, make drainage holes in your container, drill 0.5-1cm diameter holes into the bottom of the pot about 15cm apart.
  2. Cover with rocks.
  3. Half fill with peat-free compost.
  4. Start planting! How about:
    Cool blues: cornflower, wild pansy
    Hot reds: poppy, corncockle, pheasant’s eye
    Soft yellows: corn marigold, corn buttercup 
  5. Continue building up plants and compost until about 5cm from the top.
  6. Feed once a week and water frequently in summer.
  7. Sow each year.

How to make a pond in a pot

container pond

Edda Dupree - Shutterstock

  1. Find a suitable leak-free container, such as an old sink with the plughole plugged.
  2. Put a layer of gravel in the bottom and build up the edges with rocks and stones so that animals can get in and out. 
  3. Run water in very gently, preferably over plastic to avoid stirring the substrate. Use rain water if possible. Let tap water stand for a few days. 
  4. Plant-up after a few days when the water has cleared.
  5. Maintain the water levels.


What to plant in your pond in a pot:

Submerged oxygenators: Hornwort, Spiked Water-milfoil 
Submerged floaters: Potamogetons, Water Starwort, Frogbit
Emergent plants (on a shelf): Water Forget-Me-Not, Gypsywort, Flowering Rush, Arrowhead, Water Crowfoot
Cool blues: Wood Forget-Me-Not, Bluebell, Burgle
Red hots: Hedge Woundwort, Red Campion, Foxglove, Herb Robert
Neutral whites: Primrose, Lesser Celandline
Yellows and greens: Archangel, Ivy, Wood Avens, Ferns, Hellebores, Wood, Sage, Lords-and-ladies, Spurge

Click here for more pond ideas