Super Seven – The Best Trees to Pot for Autumn

Wednesday, September 27 , 2017

Super Seven – The Best Trees to Pot for Autumn

Autumn is the perfect time to plant trees. The increased rain fall helps to establish root systems.  As the air temperature drops below the soil temperature, top growth stops allowing a stronger root system to grow in preparation for the following spring. Trees greatly benefit from this and are easier to care for if planted in autumn or winter and need less watering than those planted in spring or summer. Many garden centers only offer Bare-root and root balled trees and shrubs in autumn.

Make a Tree Feature

Trees make a feature in planters in gardens of all sizes. Here are our Super Seven top trees for containers.

Bay Tree

Laurus nobilis

Evergreen, hardy to  -5 degrees C. Native to the Mediterranean, likes full sun. Produces small, white/cream flowers in spring.  Easy to prune, slow growing and happy potted. Widely used in cooking and oil of bay has properties known to alleviate Arthritis and Rheumatism.  Easy to grow. Here, growing in Chilstone’s Harewood Jardiniere on Lions’s Feet


Japanese Maple

Acer palmatum

Small, deciduous, hardy tree. Protect from late frosts and cold winds. Likes a sheltered spot in sun/partial shade.

Flowers early-mid spring with vivid red leaves in autumn. Easy to grow.


Tree Peony

Paeonia suffructicosa

Deciduous shrub that grows like a tree.  This plant seems delicate, with large, tissue paper like blooms, but it is tougher than it looks. Long-lived and hardy, these beauties are easy-moderate to grow as long as you are careful not to overwater them.  Originally from China, but widely available, these show stoppers flower mid spring and smell divine. They are slow growing and are happy in pots for around seven years.




Magnolia stellata

Deciduous, hardy and easy to grow. There is a wide range of Magnolias available that vary is size and spread, from the gorgeous Rustica Rubra with highly fragrant, saucer shaped flowers 12cm across, to the evergreen magnolias used in warmer climates as hedging. But for container gardening the smaller Magnolia stellata works best, reaching 2.5m at full height. Stellata has shallow roots with large white star-shaped flowers that bloom in mid spring on bare branches. Magnolias are one of the oldest plant groups from 20-95 million years old and predate bee pollination, reliant on beetles instead.  These plants have a low nutrient requirement and will live happily in large pots. Select a sheltered spot in sun, away from northerly and easterly winds, that could snap branches. These trees grow best in sturdy stone pots with good drainage as they have a wide spread and are prone to winds toppling them and dislike water logging. Wooden planters are best avoided as the wood preserving treatment can damage roots.



Evergreen, hardy shrub, easy to grow in pots and shape as desired. This is the traditional plant potted around drives and entrances of some of the smartest homes and hotels around. Low maintenance, high style. Looking stunning in Chilstone’s Waddeston Urn.


Dwarf Flowering Cherry


Deciduous, hardy and easy to grow. These produce a fantastic floral display in early spring, with clusters of pink blooms. Many flowering cherries do not bear edible fruit, but make a stunning spring feature. If you love spring blossom, this is a tree for you.  With a huge variety available from double blooms, such as Prunus ‘Little Pink Perfection’ to weeping white cascades of flowers from Prunus ‘Snofozam’, these won’t disappoint.


Japanese Apricot Tree

Prunus mume ‘Beni-chidori’

Deciduous, hardy, small fruit trees that flower prolifically in early spring. These grow to 2.5m and make a change from the usual flowering cherry trees. Produces quality edible fruit, with easy pollination and great for container gardens to add interest across the seasons, with good foliage colour in autumn. for even the smallest gardens.


Save for Spring – Olive Tree

Olea europaea

Evergreen with small silver-green leaves , frost tender, it can struggle in very cold temperatures and it is best to protect potted Olives in severe winter weather. Indigenous to the Mediterranean, the Olive loves sunny summers. Self pollinating, with small white flowers in summer, that rarely reach full fruit size outside in the UK. These can be pruned to shape and look wonderful in pots in gardens large and compact.


Choosing Pots and Planters

There are a variety of suitable pots and planters on the market. They key is good drainage and enough root room.  Chilstone make a variety of cast stone planters, all available with drilled drainage holes, all hand finished, from the sleek Semi Sphere Planter, to the intricate classic Waddeston Urn.

Watch out for offers coming soon at ngs.chilstone or visit our Kent showgarden.

Bay tree pair in Chilstone’s Kent Bowl.

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