With limited space, you want every plant to be special in some way: delicious, beautiful, productive, hard to find in the shops or expensive, evocative, scented, or attractive to insects. The best container crops tick several of these. In searching these out, it’s worth casting a wide net – as there are some hidden gems amongst the lesser known and more exotic crops.
Award winning garden designer and exotic edible plant hunter, Paul Barney of Edulis Nurseries, has tried and tested hundreds of different plants from all over the world. Here, he recommends his top choices for containers. If you want to try any of these plants, I’ve included the Latin names to help you track them down! Download a list of the fruits (including pot sizes and sun need) Paul mentions here, and a list of the leaves, herbs and alliums, here.
Designing a container garden
After introducing himself, I ask Paul to imagine he is designing a container garden in a small space: what would he think about first? He talks about trees, climbers, delicious crops and scent.
Delicious and exotic fruits
(Small) trees can add structure and beauty to a container garden – as well as tasty fruit. Paul shares why Hascap (similar to blueberry but easier to grow) and Chilean guavas (his favourite fruit) are brilliant container crops. He shows you lemon and Szechuan peppers with their amazing scents, bright coloured aronias and even a dwarf pomegranate.
Climbers for small spaces
Like trees, climbers can be used to add height and beauty to a container garden. In this video you’ll find out about the ornamental and delicious Japanese wineberry, the scented and tasty purple sausage vine, cocktail kiwis and yams.
Oca and Alliums
Paul shares several brilliant sounding container crops: Oca with edible roots AND leaves; allium hookerai, every bit of which is edible and bees love it; beautiful Chinese chives; and a variety of society garlic with a gorgeous fragrance.
Paul shares some unusual and tasty perennial greens which will grow with little sun, including an easy to grow ‘watercress’ and garlic cress.
Discover about Vietnamese fish mint (edible roots as well as leaves), a hardy ginger that grows well and looks amazing in pots, wasabi, and Paul’s favourite mint (out of the 30 he grows).