How To Plant A Trough Planter For Flowers And Vegetables

Trough Planters and Window Boxes are all great little containers for your outdoor spaces. These can act not only as a floral display, but can be an ideal solution for fruit and vegetables.


Trough planters are very similar to hanging baskets. They are generally constructed in the same way, more often than not they need a liner to hold its contents, and you can plant many of the plants that you would do in hanging baskets. The obvious difference is that you hang a hanging basket, whereas trough planters are free standing.

Trough Planter Liner in a Metal Frame


Trough Planter Size


The added bonus of having a planter is that because it is on the floor, it can be a lot larger than a hanging basket and the extra weight is not a real safety concern.

Planters can come in many different shapes and sizes and can be made from materials such as wire and wrought iron. You will find that most trough planters and window boxes are elongated and usually within 48” in length and within 16” wide.



Where Can I buy a Trough Planter?


Like anything there are lots of places to buy trough planters and window boxes from online market places like Amazon and Ebay, to gardening superstores like B&Q to your local garden centre and nurseries. However, judging by the size and weight of these items, you may find that buying your planter local will work out cheaper, as the postage costs are so high on these bulky items.




What Type of Planter is best?


The type of planter to be used depends on the type of things you wish to grow in them and the effect that you want to gain from your planter. Many people chose solid side planters. These are great for simple top planting. These can be used for many different plant types include vegetables.

Planters with bars or wire construction can be used in the same way, but are also ideal for side planting. This means that the plants can pop through the side of the bars and the plants or fruit can hang. It’s a good way to grow Strawberries or Tomatoes etc and the fruit will not rest on the ground. Great effects to floral plants can also be gained from side planting (as you may see in our demonstration for making hanging baskets).

With bar style trough planters, a durable liner will be required to keep the contents from falling through the bars, such as The Amateurs Answer Universal Liner.





What Kind of Soil do I use?


To keep healthy plants in a container such as a planter, you will find that it will need to be different to the typical soil that you will drop plants into the garden. Container plants will not get the nutrients from garden soil, along with the required amounts of water and air to thrive.

The key to a healthy hanging basket, planter or any container is water drainage, but also good moisture retention.

Healthy roots are achieved with access to air and for them not to be in stagnant water.



Soil Mixture for Containers


It’s important to get a good potting mix for your containers. Multi-Purpose Compost will do with good results for many things such as vegetables. However, you can improve your results by seeking further advice with a more specific mixture to suit the types of plants that you are planting.

For instance, if you are planting for fruit, you could do with a mixture of a loam based compost and slow release fertiliser.

I find that there is a wealth of information with such mixes on the RHS website with great advice on What Potting Soil Mixtures To Use For Containers.


What Vegetables Can I plant in a Trough Planter?


You will find that vegetables can grow well in containers, which may surprise many. With a good container and compost mix it can be quite easy and fun to grow in these more accessible containers. If you are looking to sow early, (like most plants) start indoors to protect from the frost, ideally in a greenhouse.

Some of the best veggies to grow in trough planters or containers are ones that like the added warmth that the UK summers will bring, such as Cucumbers, Aubergines, Peppers and Tomatoes (Scientifically speaking, a fruit). These will do well if kept in sunny spots.

These aren’t the only vegetables that will do well in planters, so try something new.




What Kind of Fruit Can I Grow in a Trough Planter?


Many fruits can be grown in planters with great success. Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapes, Cherries just to name a few. However, you may be surprised to learn that even apples and oranges can do very well in planters.

The size of the planter has a part to play, but like veggies, the mixture and soil preparation in your planter can do with some careful consideration too to get the very best results. Seek further advice with the specifics of the fruit of your choice or just go with a decent Multi-Purpose Compost and Slow Release Fertiliser.





What Kind of Plants Shall I grow in a Trough Planter?


Considering your choice of plants for any container depends heavily on the appearance you want, the weather and light that the container will be exposed to, and the amount of attention you will be able to pay it.


Appearance – There are many kinds of flowering plants that do well in trough planters and window boxes, from annuals the perennials. It’s often an idea to have a good mix to provide different dimensions and textures to your container, so trailing plants and plants that fill go well.







Conditions – If your intention is to put this in a sunny spot, choose plants that like the exposure, such as Petunia  and Begonia  plants. With a mix of plants, choose to group together plants that enjoy the same conditions.





Attention – Some plants take a lot more looking after, mainly due to the conditions that they are in or the way they are planted. With trough planters that have bars, you can achieve side-planting with plants such as busy-lizzies, this will give an amazing display but be prepared that additional watering will be required due to the excessive drainage caused by the side holes.

Do Trough Planters & Window Boxes Need a Liner?


If your planter has bars or holes in the side, or looks like it will not contain the compost very well, then I imagine a liner will be required. Similar to Hanging baskets, there are a choice of liners to use, but we recommend the Universal Liner  this is a very easy to use liner that allows you the option of both side planting or top planting your planter.


Need a Liner for a Large Trough?


If you have a large trough planter or hanging basket with bars, then you may need a special size liner. This is a good option to suit your needs.




When is the best time of year to Plant a Trough Planter?


Summer Months

For the summer season, start making your Planters in April if you wish. If there is a greenhouse you can utilise, do so until all the days and nights are frost free.

Without a greenhouse, you should either start making the trough planter a bit later, or make the effort to protect the basket with shelter or covers with fleece during colder nights etc.

From the middle of May onward, you should find that your container can stay out without worrying about it getting too cold.

Summer season planters usually take a lot more attention, as the plants used need a bit more care to avoid damage from frost in the early and later stages of the season. Plus, you have to be careful that they don’t dry out on sunny days.



Winter Baskets

For winter troughs, you will need use more hardy plants that will not be affected by the frost. Start planting these In September or October, so they come on well before the darker months.












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