Most people have a deep sense of connectedness with the natural world – they yearn to grow plants in their environment. The sense of a larger garden can be achieved in limited spaces through the use of a variety of strategically placed containers both indoors and outdoors. Not only do indoor plants create a pleasant ambience, many are able to extract toxins from general household cleaners in the air. A large number of native plants are highly suitable for growing in containers.

Plants produce their own food which is used in growth. Three ingredients are needed for this process – the energy from sunlight, water and mineral nutrients. The containers need to be placed in areas where they will get adequate natural light. Rainforest species require less light than those of more open areas. The water level must also be adequate, although there is a tendency to overwater indoor plants and this can result in drowning. Determining the correct soil moisture in a terra-cotta pot is relatively easy – if the pot rings when it is tapped, the plant needs watering, but if it produces a dull thud the soil has plenty of water. Using a self-watering plastic pot can overcome this problem as long as the well has adequate water. Applying a low-phosphate slow-release fertiliser for native plants as directed will provide the required mineral nutrients. Periodically the plant will need to be re-potted with a good quality potting mix suitable for native plants, sometimes into a pot one size larger than the original.

Indoor air-conditioned environments can be demanding for plants. It is advisable to grow them in self-draining plastic pots that are placed on a bed of gravel inside a decorative water-proof pot. Since dust must be removed from the leaves regularly, it easy to take lighter pots outside and give them a hosing to keep the leaves clean and able to perform their function efficiently.

The selection of the native plant depends on the type of container – size, whether it is a standing container or hanging basket etc. – and the position in which it will be placed. Low growing plants suitable for a container or hanging basket in a sunny position is the fan flower, Scaevola candelulacea, and the bulbine lily, Bulbine bulbosa, whereas the ivy-leafed violet, Viola banksia, the native hoya, Hoya australis, and ferns perform the same function in a filtered light A large number of grevilleas, melaleucas and leptospermums can be grown in larger containers that hold up to 5 litres of potting mix. Even larger specimens of trees can be grown, and maintained at a suitable height by pruning, in 10 litre containers. The small-leafed fig, Ficus benjamina, many lilly pillies (e.g. Acmena smithii), cordylines (Cordyline rubra and Cordyline congesta) and the walking stick palm (Linospadix monostachya) all perform well in pots

The staff at the nursery will be happy to advise and help select a container plant suitable for your requirements.

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