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Plants in Pots and Containers

As a general rule, all climbing plants can also be grown in pots or containers, especially long-bloomers/annuals. (We've even dedicated a separate section just to potted grapevines.) For perennials, the cultivation in containers should generally remain a backup solution, because they don't produce the desired foliage density, flowers or fruits, and overwintering is sometimes tricky. Choose an earth planting where possible and lead the plant to the balcony from the ground. On a rooftop terrace, or if it is not possible to plant the plant from the street, the plants will have to make do with a container. The advantage: since the vigour of a potted plant is limited, easy or light wire rope systems are usually sufficient.

Mandevilla are ideal pot plants for outside
Mandevilla are ideal pot plants for outside

Plant Pots and Tubs

The plant container should have a capacity of at least 10-30 litres, have good drainage (to prevent any standing water) and be protected during winter. A shaded spot- as shady as possible- will be best for the pot. It needs a water drain-- a bed of drainage gravel or similar, as many plants don't like to have "wet feet." That is why there shouldn't be any saucers under the pots either! On wooden decks or balconies, it is best to prop the pot up on some bricks to avoid potential water damage to the wood. Topsoil or a mixture of equal parts sand, clay, and compost make for the the best soil. A layer of regularly renewed mulch can prevent the soil from drying out.

Grapevine in a pot, bamboo trellis with espalier clamps
Potted plants: here, standard grapevine
Grapevine on a balcony before the winter pruning, insulated with a bag filled with autumn leaves
Winter protection for potted plants
Grapevine in a pot
Grapevine as a potted plant
Honeysuckle on wire rope, with groundcover
Greening in plant pots

Winter Protection

Many winter damages are not caused by cold but by dehydration; that is, as temperatures drop, watering plants is often forgotten; the soil dries out because most people don't think about the evaporation factor and forget to rehydrate their plants. Note: evergreen plants (e.g. some climbing roses) transpire (evaporate water) and draw water from the pot even in winter! 

The best way to overwinter plants in containers is to water them moderately again after the leaves have fallen and then place the container in an earth pit (hole in the ground) before covering it thickly with earth and leaves, straw, or pine branches so that only the stems of the plant protrude. From March / April, the pots can be placed back in their usual spot.


As an alternative, the pot can be wrapped with bubble wrap or something similar to reduce temporary heat spikes from solar radiation which may trigger in the plant a false feeling of rising soil temperatures and the 'beginning of spring.' However, this packing/insulation cannot prevent the pot from cooling down to the ambient air temps during particularly cold nights. A grapevine, for example, which hasn't lost too much of its forces by bearing excessive fruit furing the summer, can tolerate temperatures down to -20º C and below. Please Note: overwatered plants can freeze and burst. It is important not to water the pots too much!

Hops in a pot
Annual morning-glory
Plant pot with morning-glory