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Plants in pots, south facing garden

(33 Posts)
ItsAllTLAsToMe Fri 10-May-13 11:43:19

I'd like to have a variety of heights and colours of plants in pots in my south facing garden, but I'm a gardening novice. Can anyone give me any advice / ideas?

LadyMud Fri 10-May-13 15:41:11

That sounds lovely, Its, but it'll be a lot of work keeping them watered, etc. Any chance of planting things in the ground, or creating some raised beds?

Ponders Fri 10-May-13 15:48:30

it is a lot of work, but it's nice work smile - if you have an outside tap & a water butt it'll be easier.

Definitely consider acers - they come in all shapes, sizes & colours & seem to quite like living in pots. I have a clematis montana which has been in the same (large) plastic pot for 10 years or more & is still going strong with no top dressing or anything (though I suspect it will die dramatically one day!) You can grow climbers quite well in pots if you put trellis behind them or an obelisk over them. Ceanothus & spirea do ok too.

I'm not so good at flowering plants so I put small bedding plants round the edges of the pots with the bigger plants in.

Ponders Fri 10-May-13 15:50:25

oh, & I have a lacecap hydrangea which had masses of flowers last year. If you want blue they need some ericaceous compost; my one had flowers ranging from true blue through purple to lilac. Was very pretty. It's a bit leggy but I'm not a confident pruner so I'm leaving it alone for now

HaveToWearHeels Fri 10-May-13 16:17:58

Hydrangea, hostas, hebe (evergreens) which also come in lovely verigated or pink tipped leaves, Azalea, have them all in pots at the edge of my decking. My garden slopes away from the house so you can't see much at the bottom of the garden and these look lovely from the kitchen window.
Always use odd numbered pots in a grouping. I have added a photo to my profile of my pots.

ItsAllTLAsToMe Fri 10-May-13 19:17:37

Lady and Ponders, what do you mean when you say that it's a lot of work? Do you just mean watering, or is there something else that I'd have to do regularly?

There's a stone patio at the front of the back garden, and my plan is to have some plants in pots in the corner between the house and the fence, then a table and chairs next to the plants.

Ponders, I saw a lovely acer in the garden centre today, but I wasn't sure if it would be suitable!

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, I'm going to Google images of them all smile. And thanks HTWH, it's great to see photos of some pots in situ to get ideas.

ItsAllTLAsToMe Fri 10-May-13 19:34:18

Right, I've Googled!

acers - these are lovely! I just realised that we have a red one in our current (rented) garden.

clematis montana - I love the white ones, but it's possibly complicated by them needing something to climb up.

ceanothus and spirea - hmm, I'm somehow not keen.

lacecap hydrangea - gosh, I've never seen such a thing! It's really pretty, but it's probably a bit too fancy for me blush. I'm not sure about the normal ones either.

hostas - I like these, nice different greens, quite low lying though, apart from when they flower?

hebe - looks nice, cute and round!

azalea - I like these too.

I'd like the plants to look nice all year round too, does that limit things somewhat?

HaveToWearHeels Fri 10-May-13 21:07:51

Hostas are quite low but if you plant in a tall pot they look amazing however they do die off in the winter. Hebe are ever green so look great all year round. Azaleas also die back in winter.
Do you like architectural type plants ? if so what about a Fatsia Japonica, also ever green. Also evergreen ferns are easy to grow.
Heuchera's are lovely and evergreen and come in an array of colours. I have some lovely deep purple ones that look lovely in pots next to a varigated Hosta.
I am pretty new to gardening, pots are great as you can move them around to find what goes with what without much hassle.
A good website I have found in

Ponders Fri 10-May-13 22:19:15

I have just uploaded to my profile some pics from my back yard last summer smile

we're going on holiday on Sunday but I'll try to get some more including ceanothus & spiraea before we go

oooh, thinking on, I have an old pic of a ceanothus in a pot I used to have (before the roots grew out through the drainage holes & blocked them & the poor thing drowned...) will upload that in a sec

HaveToWearHeels Fri 10-May-13 22:39:45

ponders you have a very pretty garden, I love the ceanothus, not seen one before (that I know of) gorgeous display of colour.

Ponders Fri 10-May-13 22:53:11

aw, thanks, HaveTo smile

there's a lot of trial & error in growing pots in a paved garden. I keep trying (& failing) with jasmine & lavender. In my head it's a mediterranean garden, but that just doesn't work in Lancashire!

HaveToWearHeels Fri 10-May-13 22:59:51

I am new to gardening, have a new build so only planted it up this time of year 2010. Lots of stuff I originally planted I hated and dug up. My pots are OK though (touch wood). I have a french lavender doing well in a pot, although it is getting a bit woody now. I think I also prune my jasmine at the wrong time every year and hasn't flowered since the year I planted it.

I love my pots because I can move them around and the whole garden looks different.

cantspel Fri 10-May-13 23:13:25

Ponders your pots are lovely.

onefewernow Sat 11-May-13 00:09:25

Some David Austen Roses. A bay tree. Something spiky for difference. Ginger lilies and cannas. Real lilies eg Lilium regale.


I like while mop head hydrangeas. Species violas.

Grassy things for contrast.

Large ferns eg royal fern or shuttlecock.

ppeatfruit Sat 11-May-13 15:57:42

Our house is all front garden and the terrace is up steps to our front door. I look after the pots on the terrace but apart from trimming and mowing leave the rest of the garden fairly wild. IMO large pots are always more effective I buy good quality plastic because the ceramic ones get too heavy and break easily in the frost . I have mine in pairs e.g. 2 either side of the front door and french windows and 3 coming down each step they are in the shade though so don't do very well I tried herbs but they do need sun so no luck there. I do put pelargoniums (geraniums) in 4 for the summer and then bulbs for the winter.

If you don't want the trouble of changing the flowers twice a year then acers as ponders said are nice or olive trees\bays. I put climbing miniature roses in 2 pots by the back door but they aren't doing very well. It does take work because you need the correct potting compost and you are totally responsible for watering and feeding the plants unless it rains very heavily. Rain water is the best IMO so collecting it is a good idea.

We are in centralish west Fr. but we get such bad winters that my 2 potted olive trees died last year. I can't work out why !

onefewernow Sat 11-May-13 17:14:20

I have the odd large pot dotted around, but on the whole I prefer them grouped. I think it makes watering much easier, and they look more effective as a group.

I like a good mix of evergreen and summer stuff, as it gives some balance.

I was in a pub restaurant for a work related meeting yesterday, and they had really lovely window boxes. They were all choc full of evergreens, with a skimmia in the middle, and things with smaller leaves next in line (miniature hebes, I think) , then some small leaved ivies trailing over, and filled in between with white pansies and white begonias. There was evidence of deadheaded miniature daffodils. The tiny yellow eyes of the begonias really worked with the yellow in some of the ivies. And there was real variety of leaf shape and size.

I might copy it, as it looked more satisfying than many of my past window boxes. When the violas are over they could be replaced with white busy lizzies.

Another thought- in our old house I had an old chimney pot in shade at the bottom of the garden, and put one upright and one cascading tuberous begonia in it every year. The flowers tumbled down a metre or more, until they froze in October.

Long post, sorry!

digerd Sat 11-May-13 21:43:17

I've tried many plants in pots, but usually they last only 6 years. The best are Camelias which are blooming <late> now. Though I have lost some of those too. They are supposed to prefer a shady site, but many do well in full sun if watered copiously with rain water preferably. Acid soil is a must.
Not had any success with conifers in a pot, although my neighbour has!!

I have been very pleased with a climbing rose that has done well in a pedestal pot, called Maid of Kent, placed against a sunny fence with a fan trellis in the back of the pot, and a trellis top on the fence.

ItsAllTLAsToMe Sat 11-May-13 21:51:27

HTWH, thanks for the plant suggestions! Yes, I like the Fatsia Japonica, and an evergreen fern is definitely on the list. I like Heucheras too. The website that you linked to is great, I did a search for plants that grow well in pots. I had a french lavendar plant too, they're really pretty (but see below!).

Thanks Ponders, what lovely photos. Really pretty Acer. Is lavendar hard to grow then? I've had a couple in pots, that haven't fared particularly well, but then again, I probably didn't look after them particularly well.

Thanks one, lots of great ideas. I particularly like the idea of a bay tree, although I'm assuming that would be £!) and a shuttlecock fern. Excuse my ignorance, are species violas what my Granny called pansies? They remind me of her so much, she loved them. I think you're right, I probably need to come round to the idea of a mixture of evergreen and summer plants!

Thanks ppeat, I do love the idea of a bay tree or an olive tree, but wonder how they'd fare (north of England). I definitely want to look into getting a water butt installed.

Thanks everyone, lots of great ideas. I hope I haven't mixed up my names / genus / species smile.

ItsAllTLAsToMe Sat 11-May-13 21:53:32

Thanks digerd, I wasn't initially thinking of including a climbing plant, but that might be a good idea actually smile.

onefewernow Sat 11-May-13 22:03:38

violas are smaller face pansies- the ones about an inch. There was a recent link to a pansies website on the rhubarb thread; I think it was bouts in worcester, for pictures. But any small violas will do. The larger ones- pansies- are rubbish in rain.

ItsAllTLAsToMe Sat 11-May-13 22:09:39

Ah, thank you one.

Ponders Sat 11-May-13 23:15:05

my worst lavender experience was when I brought one back from Italy (in the suitcase, wrapped in newspaper! shock) & planted it in really heavy moisture-retaining compost which was all I had at the time. I think that one drowned sad - they prefer it light & well-drained (it does well in Norfolk which is very dry)

my next door neighbour has a huge mass of it in the ground in her front garden. trouble with pots is that the roots can get very cold in the winter because they're above ground - if you huddle everything together in the most sheltered spot you have (or wrap them in fleece or bubble-wrap) they should do better

I have just added a couple of pics of my back yard today - everything is very behind this year because of the awful winter, I think I have lost the lantara I bought last year (optimistically - it loves places like Arizona grin) but otherwise everything seems to be coming back - touch wood!

You will be able to grow loads of lovely things in pots, ItsAllTLAsToMe, but it'll take a little while to work out what's happiest where. RHS plant selector might help smile

Ponders Sat 11-May-13 23:24:37

onefewernow, I have pansies which I didn't plant all over the place, doing very well (& it couldn't be much wetter here!) maybe if they establish themselves they're more robust?

I got a very neat water butt from Aldi - they often have them in - quite small, only 100 litres, but with Lancs rain always full grin & only £20 I think. supposedly they can be fitted as a DIY; we couldn't because our downspout goes into the ground, but we had new gutters etc last summer & they did it for us

def think about having a couple of raised beds built in corners allowing access to the ground below. you can grow much bigger things in those, roots are more protected & watering is less of an issue.

echt Sun 12-May-13 06:51:05

Big pots are better from the watering angle, though water-retaining gel crystals can help. You need to think about the weight of big pots, perhaps put smaller pot inside a bigger terracotta pot, so you can remove it easily for re-potting. Other weight-saving tips are to have polystyrene chunks as your crock.

Beware of pots that curl in at the top, as getting the root-bound occupant out can mean you have to break the pot.

I'm on the lookout for sturdy pots that don't taper at the base for my three bottle trees; it can get very windy where I am.

funnyperson Sun 12-May-13 06:52:55

Hello Ponders <waves to Lancashire> how is your DS?
Its interesting seeing your pots because it helps when making pot buying/planting decisions. I love your acers, and the clematis growing up the obelisk. This year I have put sweet peas in a pot with a wigwam of willow sticks which I am very happy with as the manufacturer has bent them slightly so its a curved wigwam.
I have found that pots are good for ericaceous plants such as magnolia stellata, camellia, rhodedendron, pieris when one has clay soil. I have those in successful pots. Also they are good for interesting groupings: for example at the moment I have purple sage in a pot growing through pieris forest flame in another pot and the foliage colour combination is stunning.
Clematis integrifolia grows well in a glazed ceramic pot.
Non glazed terracotta pots are best for drought resistant plants like herbs I find because they need a lot of watering.

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