Container Gardening on the Patio - January 2011

Hello again to all our keen gardeners! I hope you have had a great Xmas / New year and are now enjoying the fruits of the work you did earlier in the spring  in your garden.

Today I am going to touch on  how to get plants to perform in containers on your patio and some good options. Many gardeners get dissapointed when they purchase a plant for a pot they have at home and the plant fails to live up to their expectations. Either the plant doesnt look happy, fails to flower, or the plant dries out and the foliage goes brown. There are lots of reasons that can contribute to unsuccessful performance of plants in containers, but you can help the odds to be more in your favour by following a few basic principles that I often pass on to my clients.


  1.  Always select a pot/container that is as big as the area will allow. This allows a bigger area for the roots to grow.
  2.  Dont use straight potting mix as the media to grow the plant in - they dry out too much. Buy a good quality container/shrub and tub mix as most of the good quality mixes have water holding gel already in the mix. This will dramatically cut down the watering needed. If you are going to use potting mix, add a bit of  quality topsoil or organic matter to the potting mix before potting to help hold the moisture
  3. Give your plant at least 2 good waterings a week over the hot summer months .
  4. Feed your container plant 2x per year: Sept and March, with a well balanced slow release fertiliser. This will keep your plant fed and looking tops all year round. Dont wait until the plant looks unhealthy before you feed it.
  5. Constantly check to see if it needs any trimming to maintain the shape you are wanting.
  6. Generally speaking, slower growing plants are better suited for container gardening because they require less maintenance to keep them looking great.
  7. Avoid using plants that are intolerant of drying out as they will cause you too many problems as container plant.

Three good plants for container gardening

MANDEVILLA RED FANTASY - a great small growing climber,thats not too vigorous for a patio container,has the  brightest red flowers all summer long from november until april.RED FANTASY does need a little climbing frame to twine itself onto and to show off the   beautiful display of flowers.A little frost tender,but what i do is move it onto the porch for the winter months,and then in october put back out onto the summer patio,cut back any spare stems,feed with a slow release fertiliser and away it comes again straight back into flower.Our two plants at home would have a continual display of over 50 flowers on each all summer.

BUXUS SEMPERVIRENS - Everyone knows the common buxus,and this plant  rightly so, deserves a place in any container gardening list of good options.The BUXUS is very forgiving for a gardener that doesnt always remember to water and feed as they should.Please dont think that they dont need any attention,because like all plants they will respond if you do look after them.They need very little trimming to keep their shape and look great 365 days a year.BUXUS can be grown in virtually any size container,and the eventual  size of  your  plant  will be somewhat determined by the size of the pot/container.
RAPHIOLEPIS UMBELLATA - (or in fact any member from the raphiolepis family)-This is a family of plants that are extremely tough and will more than hold their own to all the elements-hot and dry,wind,frost, and can be easily kept trimmed into any shape or size by the odd trimming.We have two  RAPHIOLEPIS  UMBELLATA (white flowering variety trained into topiary standards ) in our garden in large containers,and they honestly  only get the 2x feeds per year and one trimming to keep their shape,and we dont need to do anything else,now thats what i call a great container plant!!!!
There are many other good options for use in containers.
ALSTROEMERIA PRINCESS SERIES -  a great range of dwarf  varieties that just wont stop flowering,and come in a variety of flower colours to suit any decor
BAY TREE - one of the best subjects for containers,and will look great all year,can be topiaried into any shape and size,
PORTUGUESE LAUREL - another tough subject that also doesnt mind the  hot dry summers,and being restricted in a pot,but keep the slow release fertiliser on for best results
 DWARF POHUTUKAWAS - Tahiti and Red Baby-  both great container options for your seaside property or under the cover of the patio over the winter months,
CAMELLIAS - select smaller growing varieties, -great for adding flower to the patio area over the winter months.Feed with slow release acid fertiliser


Garden Articles Archive

Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
Website by WebSpring: web design NZ | Links