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how do I know which plants can share a large container?

(27 Posts)
WriteforFun1 Fri 20-May-16 18:06:51

My balcony plants have arrived - well they arrived a while ago but the company supplying the pots let me down..grr...

anyhow, I'm now wondering if I can plant any of them together in a trough. They have been delivered as very little plants and I don't know how much the roots will spread in a container or if it's a bad idea to mix them up.

I have jasmine, choisia, bougainvillea, ivy, blue leadwort.

I also thought it would be handy if any could be planted together because they are less likely to topple over in the wind.

Also, how many times is it okay to repot these - I have no idea whether they will grow to be quite big, mum reckons with proper care, they should but they are all only about 15cm tall at the moment. So not sure if they should go in the size of pot/container that I expect them to grow into - that's what I'd be inclined to do because surely it's the equivalent of planting them in a garden?

hope this makes sense. I clearly need "gardening for beginners"!

Ferguson Fri 20-May-16 19:23:10

These links might possibly help a bit:

GeorgeTheThird Fri 20-May-16 19:31:15

Some of those are quite big shrubs aren't they?

WriteforFun1 Fri 20-May-16 19:51:21

Thanks for the links
I am probably being thick but I was thinking that even if they share conditions they probably don't want to bump roots in a pot? (Sounds rude) or can they cope?

I've just been looking at pot prices and they are so expensive, so if I just put them in plastic pots for now, will they be unsettled if I repot them later in summer?

They actually arrived more than a week ago but the stupid company sending the pots stuffed up the order. The plant company said to plant them immediately so I don't know whether to just use what I have, small pots and do them again when they've grown more. It will be like two repottings in two months. Does that upset plants?

They are ones that can grow quite big but they have been delivered as tiny, presumably very young plants.

shovetheholly Fri 20-May-16 19:53:39

jasmine - this is a climber. Needs a reasonably large pot and some support. I'm hoping it's one of the hardy kinds and not an indoor variety

choisia - this is quite a large shrub, so a big pot is needed. It's hardy though!

bougainvillea - this is a conservatory plant. It can be outdoors in the summer, but it will need winter protection. Likes it hot!

ivy - this can be a climber, but also an attractive trailer for underplanting. It's hardy and most varieties are really tough!

blue leadwort - again, good underplant as it's low-growing and hardy.

shovetheholly Fri 20-May-16 19:55:38

Oh, and for potting - get them into some compost asap. Anything is better than leaving things bare-rooted or in tiny modules that dry out. Grow them on and then repot.

Plants get hit by repotting, but it's sometimes necessary when you're growing small plants on. It's better to repot a couple of times in the right sized pots than to put them in something way too big too early.

catsofa Fri 20-May-16 20:04:31

Yes plant in small pots then bigger ones later. Plants don't mind bumping roots grin as long as they don't block each other's light then they will probably have enough soil each too. The plant labels should tell you how tall and how wide they can get. Imagine that their roots are as big under the soil as the top of the plant is above it. That'll give you a guide to how big a pot they need now and what they'll end up needing.

gingeroots Fri 20-May-16 20:24:15

With pots I find it quite a challenge to get the balance right between keeping them moist enough but not too wet ! My tip is to make sure they have drainage holes and put them on those pot feet or something to let a bit of air underneath them .

But I'm not exactly ( at all ) an expert so if I'm wrong I hope someone will help .

WriteforFun1 Fri 20-May-16 20:45:39

Thank you all, this is brilliant advice. I will get to potting them first thing tomorrow and see how they do, then repot as needed.

It may be a blessing in disguise that the pots I ordered didn't turn up as they might have been too big. But given that people plant these plants in gardens, I'm unclear how much of an issue a too big pot can be?

catsofa Fri 20-May-16 23:39:44

In a too big pot some of the soil and nutrition will wash away because there are no roots to hold it, it is a bit different to planting in soil in some ways.

Also moisture at the bottom is important as soil doesn't dry out a foot down, so garden plants can always get water by rooting downwards enough, whereas pots can easily completely dry out. In summer I keep all pots in trays so the very bottom is always wet- as long as the tray isn't too deep they can't drown.

Also fill to maybe a cm below the rim of the pot so you can get water IN, if soil is dry water will take a minute to soak in and just runs off the top if there's too much soil in the pot. If soil is dry then water everything twice, the second lot is absorbed much better. Of course small pots dry out quicker than big ones.

WriteforFun1 Sat 21-May-16 00:08:01

Catsofa, thank you, that makes more sense to me now.

I've noticed that most container plant advice says "well drained soil" so I've not considered any pots that don't have drainage. But given what you've said about how easily pots dry out, I'm less sure. I was worried about root rot and over watering but perhaps my worries are wrong and some plants will be okay in pots without drainage holes.

shovetheholly Sat 21-May-16 09:32:33

Definitely use drainage holes (and drill them in if pots don't already have them). Otherwise you will end up with a swamp not a pot come the autumn. The soil will go all bad and stink!

"Well drained soil" generally means adding a bit of horticultural grit.

You can fill big pots with several plants! Containers often look better this way.

WriteforFun1 Sat 21-May-16 10:34:54

Thanks Shove

That's an interesting code - I thought it just meant, er, well drained soil...

this planting malarkey is very expensive.

gingeroots Sat 21-May-16 10:42:39

Also fill to maybe a cm below the rim of the pot so you can get water IN

ha! this is something it's taken me ages to understand ,now I put earth in the container up to about 3/4 full ,sit the plants on top and then fill in the gaps with compost. I used to fill the container up and kind of make a hole and insert the plant . Which resulted in the too full container which overflowed when watered .

I can be a slow learner !

Oh ,and regarding pot feet .What I do if the pot gets a lot of sun or I'm unable to water for a few days is to put that pot in a pot saucer and mainly use the pot feet in winter . But I said about pot feet because I tend to overwater and I've had more trouble with badly drained pots than under watered ones .If any of that makes sense .

Good luck with your pots .I was eyeing up herbs at a garden centre and thinking how good they'd be in pots .

WriteforFun1 Sat 21-May-16 21:25:42

Thanks ginger
Does anyone have thoughts on those planters that have internal drainage? At the moment, because I've just got these cheap plastic pots, they have a saucer underneath so when I water them I will be able to pour away any surplus. With these internal drainage ones, I guess you just have to assume any surplus will evaporate? They def look better than the saucers...I never knew pot feet existed to be honest.

shovetheholly Sun 22-May-16 09:37:59

I don't bother with saucers unless it is a bog plant that needs to be kept constantly wet. I find it's just too easy not to notice that something is standing in a lot of water, and starting to rot. I just water things regularly and let the surplus drain away. I would be worried with the internal drainage that it would be very difficult to regulate!

gingeroots Sun 22-May-16 10:27:39

Ah words of wisdom from our lovely Holly . I do have some plastic pots with internal drainage but I find they keep everything too wet .

I've had more luck with water retaining granules - you can get these anywhere ,poundland for instance .

I found these plant pot stands which I like . ( me cheap ???? )

WriteforFun1 Sun 22-May-16 10:43:02

thanks Shove and Ginger

I can't just let surplus drain though, it's balcony plants so I have to keep a saucer under them. I did think about it and I think internal drainage is a bad idea, as I have no idea if the water is just going to sit there and get stagnant? Maybe when I am better acquainted with the whole planting thing I could get those, they are certainly better looking than having saucers and plastic pots.

If anyone did want those internal drainage ones, I found these and they look good value

oddly enough I am going to Poundland shortly to get some support sticks (for the plants, not for me, lol).

WriteforFun1 Sun 22-May-16 16:48:34

and today I have learned - don't to the Pound shop on a Sunday....big crowds round the gardening stuff too!

shovetheholly Mon 23-May-16 07:51:53

Awww ginger flowers

I am sure someone will come along with a smarter idea than this write, but if you can't let water flow through the pot because it would be anti-social then I would either do it anyway and water last thing at night/first thing in the morning and hope you don't get yells of annoyance from those deluged below grin, or water and then empty the saucers an hour or so afterwards if they are looking constantly full.

It's a bit counterintuitive, but inserting some broken crocks at the bottom of pots for drainage can be helpful - I put a small convex piece of broken terracotta pot over the drainage holes at the bottom of pots to make sure they can't be blocked. Of course, you don't want too many because baking and underwatering is also an issue with containers - hence the utility of water-holding granules!!

The key is really keeping a constant eye out for any problems to make sure the soil isn't too waterlogged. Every time I've had a problem with over or under-watering the number one thing above all others I could have done to prevent it was to keep more of an eye on the pot.

traviata Mon 23-May-16 08:02:50

a lightweight alternative to broken crocks (as you are on a balcony) is nuggets of polystyrene from packaging.

(just make sure it isn't the expanded maize type which dissolves)

shovetheholly Mon 23-May-16 09:09:05

Much better idea from traviata - polystyrene weighs loads less!

gingeroots Mon 23-May-16 09:18:20

Would putting these in the saucers help or hinder do you reckon ?

Might they soak up overflow water ( or just make it spill over ???)

WriteforFun1 Mon 23-May-16 20:36:31

Shove, yes at the moment I just keep an eye on the saucers, easiest way to do it.

I might have popped to Homebase after work and got a climbing rose to add to all this...

I've really got to stop now or there'll be no room for me to sit in my tiny chair that I keep out there!

shovetheholly Tue 24-May-16 10:10:55

grin It sounds great - like a mini-jungle!!

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