Plants for pots
As summer rolls in it's time to brighten outdoor living areas and there’s no simpler way to create a welcoming alfresco sanctuary than filling some well placed pots with your favourite flowers and foliage. WHAT MAKES A GREAT CONTAINER PLANT?
Almost anything will grow in a container if given the right level of care, but some plants are more tolerant of pot life than others. Plants with drought tolerance in their breeding are the most forgiving of lapses in watering. Those that insist on perfect drainage will perform better in potting mix than heavy soil.
Choose plants that are worthy of the pride of place their container bestows on them. They might have a super long-lasting display of colour or an especially appealing shape. Ideally both! At this time of year garden centres offer an exciting array of flower packed plants with tidy, pot-perfect growth habits.
Rather than flowers, beautiful foliage may be the main event, as is the case with dry-loving succulents, swishy grasses, colourful heucheras and soft leafy hostas. Shapely evergreen shrubs hold the fort all year round, the most famous of these being clipped English box. NZ native alternatives which respond well to shaping include many different corokia and coprosmas with interesting foliage.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT PLANT CONTAINER?
Life in a pot can be tough. When container plants run out of water, food or space to grow, they can’t just spread their roots like a plant in the ground, so they’re completely at the mercy of their gardener. But as long as your vessel is large enough and has adequate drainage it has great potential as a place to grow plants. The role of the container and its potting mix is to hold enough water and nutrients to keep plants happy while letting the excess water drain away.
The smaller the pot, the more often you will need to water. Err on the large side, especially when planting fast growing perennials, vege plants and fruit trees. Hanging baskets are particularly vulnerable to drying out if too small. On the other hand a pot that’s too big for its plant may be a waste of potting mix and nutrients or worse, lead to cold damp conditions that cause root rot. This applies to the likes of orchids and houseplants. As a guide, the new pot should be 3 to 5cm wider than the old one.
FAR LEFT: Bacopa