Clay flowerpots are the best containers for growing decorative house plants. They are made of unfired clay and are not glazed. As they are porous, the moisture in the soil tends to maintain a balance with the moisture in the atmosphere. However, this is not always advantageous. Plastic pots also retain moisture well. They are cheap, light and modern and practical in design, which makes them suitable for use in arrangements of several plants. In addition, they are available in a wide range of colours to suit any interior décor. Nevertheless, ceramic pots or other ceramic containers continue to be great favourites. They also come in a wide variety of shapes – rounded or angled, flat, shallow or deep .

Container arrangements

Of course, a single species of plant can be grown in a single container, but a combination of several different species grown together is becoming an increasingly popular method. When growing an assortment of plants, however, it is necessary to know the requirements of the individual species. It is impossible to grow desert plants in the same container as moisture-loving ones, or shade-loving species with light-loving ones. Plants also differ widely in their soil requirements. Therefore, plants requiring an acid soil should never be put in the same container as plants that like soil containing lime.

Another important factor in the selection of plants for growing in a single container is their combined aesthetic effect. A combination of plants in harmonizing colours will certainly be more effective than a bland combination of similarly coloured green plants. A striking effect can be achieved, for example, by putting relatively tall plants, such as Dieffenbachia picta, its green leaves speckled with cream, in the centre of the bowl, with pendant and prostrate species of Peperomia and Maranta around it.

Pots and flat bowls may also be made more distinctive by putting a moss cone or pillar in the centre. Take a wooden, plastic or even glass rod, wrap wire mesh or nylon netting round its entire length and then wrap sphagnum or some other moss around that. Hold the moss in place with wire or nylon string. Put some climbing plants in the bowl and anchor them to the pillar as they grow. They will soon root in the moist moss and will rapidly cover the entire surface. Plants that are very suitable for this purpose include Philodendron scandens, Syngonium podophyllum and Ficus pumila. To promote growth, water the moss cone with a weak hydroponic solution.

Hanging containers

Small hanging containers provide a very good method of growing plants in small flats. The containers may be flat on one side, which look attractive against a wall, or spherical and so suitable for hanging in the middle of a room from the ceiling or from a shelf. Many different commercial baskets are available or you can use various plant materials, such as coconut shells or bamboo stalks. The plants grown in the containers should be small, and climbing or trailing species are best of all. These may be put in soil, and some undemanding species may even be grown in just plain water. However, it is best to grow them in a hydroponic solution, for this eliminates the need to water them – which is easily overlooked with a hanging container – and the plants do very well. Plants recommended for such containers are Hedera helix, Ceropegia woodii and various species of Tradescantia and Rhipsalidopsis.

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