The aim is to have a lush, full-looking arrangement from the moment it’s assembled. Our four examples each consist of between nine and 13 plants, which may seem excessive and implausible, considering the size of the container. However, the root balls of the plants we used ranged from cell-pack-size to about 20 centimetres in diameter; some of the soil surrounding their roots was removed to squeeze them in. A good-quality packaged container soil mix and attention to watering, feeding and deadheading throughout the growing season will help ensure plants grown in close quarters thrive.
Size them up: Pick the perfect planter
If you’re in the enviable position of shopping for new containers, consider this:
- Large pots offer more design possibilities and require less-frequent watering.
- Some pot colours are more accommodating than others. Black or dark brown contrasts well with all flowers and foliage, and complements most house colours and styles. Ivory or sage is easy to work with, too.
- A pot’s shape has an impact on how easy it is to plant up. For example, urns have a small planting area, and the Ali Baba pot shape shown here can be tricky, because its rim is several centimetres narrower than its middle. In my opinion, the easiest shape to work with—for both practical and design purposes—is a vase-shaped pot, taller than it is wide, and flared at the top.
Rosy perfection (shown above)
Conditions: Full sun to part shade; keep evenly moist
Here’s a rosy combo that glows like a ruby with rich, saturated colours. The coleus stands up to sun. Deadhead the salvias and lantanas. Cut back the sweet potato vine and coleus if they grow too rampantly.
- Dwarf purple-leafed Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii cvs.)
- Dwarf pink fountain gauras (Gaura lindheimeri ‘Walgaupf’)
- ‘Black Heart’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas ‘Black Heart’)
- Lantanas (Lantana camara cvs.)
- Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)
- Crimson salvias (Salvia splendens ‘Vista Burgundy’)
- Red stained glassworks ‘Copper’ coleus (Solenostemon hybrida Stained Glassworks Series ‘Copper’)