When we moved into our current house, there wasn't much planting space on the ground, so I had the idea to buy 20 small, metal planters to hang off the slats of fence. They are 12cm tall with a 14cm diameter. I planted them all up over the years but most of the plants have since died. I've realised that's most likely because the conditions in the pots are very harsh what with them being small and metal, and I didn't water them twice a day in summer like I probably should have, or repot them enough.

Now we have a toddler, so I definitely wouldn't have time to care for them properly if I planted them all up again.

They are still all hanging on the fence, and look nice as they are, if a bit bare, but I was wondering if there was something I could do with them that would be very low maintenance, while also benefiting wildlife - in particular pollinators. I am very focused on helping pollinators and so far have really only done so by buying only pollinator-friendly plants for the ground space we do have, which I am happy to say are mostly all alive and doing well.

Any ideas?

  • 2
    Where are you located? That affects what will be available to buy.
    – kevinskio
    Commented May 24 at 13:56
  • Glasgow in Scotland
    – DrVHam
    Commented Jun 3 at 13:17

3 Answers 3


Pollinators do not only need food. They also need save space to rest and lay eggs or similar.

So you can research the habits of pollinators of your area and give them what they need.

Examples (for my area) would be:

  • old dry natural wood to bite parts off and use as material for building nests
  • sand to lay eggs in
  • clay to build and/or lay eggs in
  • straw/bamboo and similar tube-shaped "sticks" for laying eggs
  • water in hot periods (with a stone or other place to land on and drink from)
  • old wood with drilled holes to lay eggs in

The bees in my area like to lay their eggs in small holes/tubes and will close them with clay. Then the sun will provide the temperature and the bees get descendants.

"Insect hotel" is one search term, but you should avoid shops and instead use information of organisations who preserve nature and wildlife.


If you want to help pollinators, plants are somewhat required.

If you'd like to make use of your hanging planters but don't have time to hand water them, install a drip irrigation system to water them and run it on a timer-valve (or a fancier controller with a rain sensor as well to not water when it has rained recently, or is raining.)

It's also possible that you might get your toddler interested in gardening/planting by initally giving them creative control over what's planted in one or more planters, (preferably one they can peer into without being lifted) and as they age, more responsibility for them as they are able & if interested.


I don't have any idea that don't involve plants. But as another toddler parent who killed off many potted plants when my children arrived, I have learned to embrace flowering weeds. They are hearty, free, you don't feel bad when they die, and for the pollinators - any flower is better than no flowers.

I let some weeds go to seed, and now have neglected pots full of Geranium molle, various clovers and mints, red dead-nettle, purslane, and many other things that were growing in my yard already. I've put all my smaller pots in the shade so they dry out more slowly, and wait to see what grows. We've had plenty of native insects visit, and its a great lab for the kids to observe.

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