Colourful combos: Utilising pots for tropical plants


Colour combos are a perfect idea to spruce up your garden and add some colour to any landscape

However, before embarking on this gardening project, there are two crucial elements: using a large pot, and having a ‘thriller’ plant. Let’s start with the pot.

With a large pot, the soil will dry out more slowly after watering than that in a tiny pot. Try to find a pot that combines a look and feel you like with a large enough size. Fill the bottom 10 centimetres with coarse gravel and cover with a piece of flyscreen to stop the potting mix moving south and blocking the drainage holes. Then add the potting mix, leaving yourself maneuvering room for the plants. Get the best mix you can and don’t be tempted to use garden soil. It will pack down. It will repel water and deflect it to run down the insides of the pot and out the holes.

Looking to the plants: Any stunning large pot relies on its “thriller” plant.

The main plant needs to catch the eye as a feature plant. With this in mind, some suggested plants may be the Tropicanna® Canna original, Tropicanna® GOLD or Tropicanna® BLACK. The foliage is bold, broad and striped in striking hues. One is enough for our pot, so we set it off-centre and towards the back and kept the number of different supporting-cast  “filler” and  spiller plants to two or three. Nestle your other plants in and around the main feature, arranging them while still in their pots until you find the right place for each.

A great mixed container design comes down to a “thriller” plant,  which is often a big , bold and beautiful plant at the top of the composition; a “filler”, usually a mid-level plant that softens and complements the “thriller”; and a “spiller”’ – a tumbler or trailer over the edge of the pot that provides lower-level personality, texture and a finished look.

When you do end up planting your final selection, make sure you fill the pockets around and in between all the plants and aim to have each plant’s original potted surface, level with each other and about 10 centimetres below the pot’s rim. Scatter over some mulch and don’t forget to water the pot very well the first time so that everything is set up and ready to grow.

With these steps and tips any garden can be well on their way to colourful, tropical perfection.

For more information

Anthony Tesselaar

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