Water Wise Container Gardens

Container gardens are popular for enhancing the appearance of indoor and outdoors spaces. And containers themselves can serve as eye-catching focal points. Growing plants in containers is considered a water wise practice, providing certain guidelines are followed.


Choose the right container

Avoid containers that are porous and lose water through evaporation. Clay and terracotta pots are a good example of a pot that is porous. If you already have porous pots, such as terracotta, line them with polythene or a sealant such as Rust-Oleum LeakSeal, making sure to leave a hole for drainage.

Select the right size pot

Choose a pot that is the right size for your plant/s - you want a container that allows for root growth. However, when selecting a large container for impact - with only a small plant - to conserve water, fill the large pot with lightweight packing material and place a smaller pot containing the plant on top of this.

Growing medium

For healthy and thriving plants choose a good quality potting mix that is high in organic matter. You can enhance the water and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil by adding water-retaining granules.


Use slow-release organic fertilisers and foliar fertilisers that provide a regular supply of fertiliser over a period of time.

Watering requirements

Containers allow water to be used efficiently by plants, so it's always a good idea to place plants together with similar water requirements. Use low water usage plants in outdoor containers as much as possible, especially if containers are potted up with sun-loving plants against hot north- or west-facing walls.

Position indoor container plants away from any draughts, and away from direct sunlight.

Place drip trays under containers of high water usage plants – these will collect excess water that the plant will draw up as the soil dries out.

The most water efficient method of watering container plants is by drip irrigation, as this ensures that water is distributed slowly throughout the soil, rather than soaking through it. Alternatively, water them slowly, by hand.

Container plants need mulch

Mulch reduces water loss through evaporation. When planting up containers, leave a 5cm gap below the top of the container to allow for mulch. Keep the mulch about 3cm away from plant stems to avoid possible fungal problems.