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Matching the right plants with the right pots and containers

Keep these tips in mind when matching plants with pots and containers

Decide where the container will be placed before choosing plants for it. Will the pot be in the sun or shade? Does this change during the day? Remember that morning sun can usually be counted as ‘shade’, while morning shade can be counted as sun, since the heat of the afternoon is the force to be reckoned with.

Consider the height and width of the container in relation to the shape and size of the plant or plants. As with flower arranging, the overall effect of plant and container together is very important. A single, long stemmed cut bloom needs a tall, shapely container; a massed arrangement is generally placed in a less obtrusive (even barely visible) container – the same principles apply in container gardening.

Pots or containers with a glossy, bright colour will need bolder plants, probably with big, glossy leaves like a Strelitzia nicolai so that the pot and plant can harmonize. A delicate or fine-textured plant such as a Confetti bush (Coleonema spp) will tend to get ‘lost’ in a bold pot and will look better in an understated terracotta or concrete container.

Drainage is important, make sure that containers have adequate drainage holes. If the container’s drainage is poor plant bog plants that will thrive such as Juncus effusus, a grass that will make a soft fountain of tall, fine textured leaves, there is also a dwarf variety with deliciously corkscrewing foliage (Jucus effusus ‘Spiralis’). Cyperus species, relatives of papyrus, that include tall and dwarf species will also do well in poorly drained pots.


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