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

Pots and containers are a great way of introducing wildlife features into more formal areas of the garden like the patio, or outside the front door. They are also perfect for small gardens or spaces like window ledges or roofs. Herbs, in particular, make good container plants and attract lots of wildlife, as well as being useful in the kitchen.

There are many ingenious planting schemes that can be tried: 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. 

Use a quirky container

You can use anything you like for planting. Try an old watering can, chimney pot, kettle or teapot, holey boots, metal pails and buckets, bird or other pet cage, paint tins, catering tins, pans and colanders, veg racks... the sky’s the limit! 

Make a hanging basket

vertical garden wildlife trust

Cath Hare

  1. Rest the basket or container on a bucket or large pot for stability.
  2. Line with an old woolly jumper (not a moss liner) cut to size, or choose a solid basket.
  3. Plant using peat-free compost. Put in a tall, central plant (such as scabious, lavender, sage), followed by smaller plants around it, and trailing plants through the sides.
  4. Continue building up plants and compost until about 5 cm from the top.
  5. Feed once a week and water frequently in summer.


What to plant in your hanging basket:

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, Patio Tomatoes, Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Sage, Patio Strawberry, Dwarf Lavender
Trailers: Ivy, Nasturtium, Honeysuckle, Sweet Pea, Lobelia ’Pendula’ 

Make a meadow pot


Niall Benvie/2020VISION

  1. Make drainage holes – if necessary, drill 5-10 mm diameter holes into the bottom of the pot about 15 cm apart.
  2. Cover with crocks.
  3. Half fill with peat-free compost.
  4. Start planting! Continue building up plants and compost until about 5 cm from the top.
  5. Feed once a week and water frequently in summer.
  6. Sow each year.


What to plant in your cornfield meadow pot:

Cool blues: Cornflower, Wild Pansy
Hot reds: Poppy, Corncockle, Pheasant’s Eye
Soft yellows: Corn Marigold, Corn Buttercup 

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