Planting Galvanised Tubs

March 30, 2015

As you may have noticed by now, I have a bit of a thing for galvanised tubs to plant everything and anything in my garden. I love their vintage look but also they're built to last and will long outlive terracotta pots that smash or crack easily through the seasons. A few people have asked me about preparing tubs for planting so I thought I'd put together a little guide -

I can't resist buying old bath tubs, buckets, watering cans and even big troughs to plant up in the garden and at the allotment. I love mixing different shapes and sizes. I normally find them at vintage shops/markets - I've written about my favourite treasure hunting market Kempton Antiques here. Whilst all of mine have been vintage finds, the newer versions like these look just as good.

As they've become more popular their prices have crept up but as a rule the tubs I don't pay more than £12-£15 for a medium size like the ones shown here. Up to £20-£25 for a large bath tub. Watering cans on average up to £14 and buckets £8-£10. Some have been real bargains, especially at car boot sales, £2 for a tub!! They're not all perfect but that's part of their charm. One thing to focus on though is the stability of the bottom, if it looks/feels as though it will rust right through within a couple of years then avoid it. 

Before planting you need to drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage or your plants will become water logged and rot. Three holes should be enough, just drill right through the bottom of them and place a few big stones/crocks angled over the holes before filling with compost. 

They're great for bulbs, just plant in the autumn and leave them be all winter until they wake up and bloom in the Spring. 

But equally they're great for plants and flowers too, stocks are pretty in late Spring. Be mindful of the fact that anything you plant in them, compared to being in the ground, will require more water if it hasn't rained much {just look/feel the soil} and nutrients occasionally. Either replace the compost completely when you're planting something new or add some feed once every few months. 

I like marguerite plants {standard daisies} in a bucket and I buy one every April that lasts on the patio steps all summer, flowering for months if you keep deadheading it!


Lavender, cosmos, geraniums and hydrangeas look good in them too for the summer. I like to fill the watering cans with trailing lobelia in the summer and heathers in the autumn/winter. I love changing them through the seasons for a display outside the back door throughout the year. 

You can also plant trees in them - I've got two bay trees that sit outside the patio doors, olive trees in deeper buckets on the patio and a magnolia tree in the front garden. Again, the same rules with drainage holes apply and just be more conscious of watering regularly and feeding.

Looking at these photos has me seriously lusting over summer and the garden being full of flowers again. We've got the best time of year to look forward to in just a few weeks and I can't wait!

Bigger garden post here if you haven't seen it before.

What have I missed on the galvanised tub advice? Feel free to ask any questions. What do you like to plant in containers?

R <3 xx 

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  1. Hi Rebecca, can you help? I'm unsure what you do with the plants/flowers when you take them out of the tub to put something new in them? I haven't got a big enough bed to plant them.
    Thanks Vikki

    1. It depends what type of plants/flowers they are and if they can be reused or not next year. I normally plant mine at the allotment in big beds to dig up again next year but if they're really past it or you don't have the space then compost them or give them away? xx

  2. hey smell like cloves too. She smelled some stocks and smiled - oh yes.forget me not flowers


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