We kick off our final investigation of the best pot plants with a fragrant herb.
If you’d like some advice on which large pots plants are best for screening, see here and read this if you’re interested in cultivating palms in pots. Or perhaps you’d like to grow roses in pots? And for our smart tips on growing all of the best pot plants, see here.
“Basil” – a practical herb for Growing in Pots
One of the most handy plants you can grow in pots is the herb “Basil”. In fact, herbs in general are obvious candidates as the best pot plants.
Basil is a very popular herb for cooking and has a place in everyone’s garden. If you do not have a garden, a pot of “Basil” on the patio or veranda is always useful.
“Basil” grows best in a sunny spot. But, even in part day sun they will grow reasonably. “Basil” only grows from spring till autumn and usually dies back in winter (temperate climates). Plants can grow to around 50cm tall, so a pot of around 30-40cm wide is best to use.
You can buy “Basil” as a seed over the internet or buy it as seedlings from your local nursery. Most times only one or two plants are required per pot.
To care for your “Basil” pot plant:
Plant it in spring, in a good quality potting mix. Use a 6 month slow release fertiliser when planting. Good drainage is important to grow basil well, so make sure your pot has a hole in the base. You may like to purchase a self-watering pot this makes watering your basil easy.
Position your pot of “Basil” in full sun if possible, or a spot that will get sun for most of the day. Keep your “Basil” well fed, it is the secret to growing good herbs generally.
Fertilise once a week during the growing season with a liquid NPK fertiliser. This will keep your plant healthy as you remove the foliage to use in cooking (always wash your basil before cooking).
Continue to feed the plant right through until autumn at which point it may start to die back. In areas with warm winters, basil can be grown all year around. However, basil usually needs to be replanted at the end of winter.
“Dwarf umbrella tree” – An indoor or patio pot plant
The “Dwarf umbrella tree” (Schefflera amate) is a small leafy shrub with glossy green leaves.
It is a subtropical plant that makes an excellent indoor and patio plant for around the house or office. The “Dwarf umbrella tree” is used extensively in the indoor plant industry as a potted foliage plant. It is a very hardy and low maintenance plant and has few pest issues.
In most cases a “Dwarf umbrella tree” will grow to around 1.5m tall in a large pot. It makes a good plant to mass plant in a planter box or as a single foliage plant in a pot.
To care for your “Dwarf umbrella tree”:
Plant it in a good sized pot with a quality potting mix. Use a long lasting slow release fertiliser (12months). A self-watering pot is a good idea and these plants thrive in such pots. Most of the professional indoor companies use self-watering pots.
For best results pick an indoor spot which gets a long duration of indoor light. If you are intending to place your Dwarf Umbrella tree outdoors on a patio, a shaded spot is ideal.
Dwarf Umbrellas grow well in the kind of artificial light found in an office, so long as the light is of sufficient strength and duration.
Fertilise with a liquid NPK fertiliser once a fortnight. It is important to follow instructions on the fertiliser packet as indoor plants do not require as much fertiliser as outdoor plants.
Pest issues for “Dwarf umbrella trees” are Mealy bugs and scale insects. Both these insects can be controlled using white oil on a regular basis. White oil is also useful for wiping the leaves to remove dust and keeping the leaves looking glossy.
“Dwarf umbrella trees” live for many years as an indoor or patio plant, making them one of the best pot plants in those environments.
You may also come across another “Dwarf umbrella tree” with the botanical name Schefflera Arboricola. This also makes a decent indoor plant.
Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” – A Native Plant to Grow in pots
Many gardeners like to grow Australian native plants, but not everyone has room to grow these beautiful flowering plants.
However, growing Australian native plants in pots is very possible as there are many that flourish in containers. One of our favourites is the Grevillea “Robin Gordon”.
Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” is a medium sized growing shrub to around 1.5m. The leaves are a deep dark green and the shrub naturally develops a nice bushy rounded shape.
One of the notable reasons for growing Grevillea “Robyn Gordon”, are the fire red flowers which develop throughout the year. The red flowers attract parrots and other nectar feeding birds.
Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” plants grow best in temperate, warm temperate and some subtropical areas. They do need to receive full sun to flower well, so position your pot in a full sun situation wherever possible.
It is important to use a broad pot and a well-drained pot. Australian native potting mixes are available in some nurseries to grow native plants in pots.
To learn more about how this entry in our best pot plants list can also be used as a hedging plant, see here.
Care of Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” pot plants:
Although Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” is a tough native plant, it does have a tendency to dry-out quickly in pots and this is usually the main reason they die. Even if they require a well-drained potting mix they still need to be watered.
Generally during hot summer conditions you will need to increase watering to get them through the hot times. In winter reduce your watering as they do not like sodden soil. If you use a pot saucer in summer to hold moisture and remove it in winter, this is always a good trick.
You can fertilise your potted Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” with slow release fertiliser. There are a number of Australian native slow release fertilisers on the market, a six month release is good. You can also use some Australian native liquid fertilisers every two weeks during the spring and summer. This will promote new growth and flowers.
Prune your potted Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” now and then. The best times to prune it are in spring and autumn. You may only need to tip prune it (take off the soft growth) with some hedge trimmers. Trimming your “Robyn Gordon” will keep in compact and bushy and improve future flowers.
Pests which attack potted Grevillea “Robyn Gordon” are: Aphids on new growth, “scale insects” on stems and, worst of all, soil borne “Curl grubs”.
“Curl grubs” will eat out the roots and are a major cause of the death of potted Grevilleas. Treatments for these pests are available from garden centres.
Grevillea “Honey gem” – A native Plant to grow in pots
Grevillea “Honey gem” is a beautiful flowering Australian native plant. And if you are looking for the best pot plants, why not cultivate some Australian natives?
It is well known as garden shrub in temperate climate gardens. Generally it grows to around 4m in the garden and is used mostly as a screen shrub along a fence line.
Grevillea “Honey gem” develops fantastic golden combs of flowers throughout the year with the main flowerings are in spring and autumn.
Birds love “Honey gem” flowers and you will find all sorts of birds visiting your garden to feed on the flowers. You can grow Grevillea “Honey gem” in pots and they will flower. The trick however to is use a large pot and good quality native potting mix.
Grevillea “Honey gem” will grow well in temperate, warm temperate and subtropical regions. Handily, it will withstand light frosts in winter.
Care of Grevillea “Honey gem” in pots:
The best feature of Grevillea “Honey gem” plants are the numerous golden flowers which develop through the year.
You can enhance the flowers of this plant by following these few tips. Most importantly you will need to get a large broad pot. You can expect your “Honey gem” to grow to around 2m in a pot. This makes them a handy screen plant (click here to read of other practical screening pot plants).
Use a good quality Australian native potting mix and native slow release fertiliser. Ensure that you place your pot plant in a warm, full sun position, or with as much sun as possible. Although these plants can withstand wind, they seem to flower much better in a protected position out of the wind.
Fertilise each year with slow release. For the maximum flowering potential make sure you also use some liquid Australian native fertiliser once early two weeks during spring and summer.
Seaweed based fertilisers are also very beneficial, such as Maxi-crop for developing a strong root system. Water your plant well in summer and reduce watering in winter.
Pruning is important to get the best shape and flower development on potted Grevillea “Honey gem” shrubs. The shrubs can grow a bit lanky if not tip pruned once or twice a year.
Generally if you tip prune (take off a small amount of foliage from the plant) you will develop a more compact shape and more flowers. Tip prune in early spring and in autumn.
You may find that the best time to prune is right after flowering in late winter or early spring and again after the major flowering in autumn. Generally you stop pruning throughout summer and winter to allow the plant to flower.
The only pest which is a problem on Grevillea “Honey gem” are soil borne “Curl grubs”. “Curl grubs” will eat out the roots and are a major cause of the death of potted Grevilleas. Treatments for these pests are available from nurseries and garden centres.
Incidentally, Grevilleas are one of the best native Australian plants to grow in your garden. To learn more, see here.
Grevillea “Moonlight” – A native Plant to grow in Large pots
Grevillea “Moonlight” is a large growing Grevillea (5m) which has large white flowers throughout the year.
The flowers are snow white combs which attract various birds into the garden. To grow Grevillea “Moonlight” in a pot you will need a very large pot, like a planter. However, we think this is another of the best pot plants that you can grow if you want dramatic natives, so the effort is worth it.
You could expect your Grevillea “Moonlight” to grow to 3m in a large pot, but could be kept to just over 2m. They make good screen plants for pots, but must be grown in full sun to flower well.
To care for your Grevillea “Moonlight” pot plant:
Ensure that you use a good quality Australian native potting mix and slow release fertiliser. The pot needs to be large enough to stop the plant blowing over in the wind, so it may not be a pot that you generally find at your garden centre.
Your pot needs to have good drainage. Position your “Moonlight” in a full sun position for best results.
Fertilise each year with a few sprinkles of ‘slow release’. You will also need to use some Australian native liquid fertiliser every two weeks during spring and summer. Seaweed based fertilisers are also beneficial, such as Maxi-crop.
Pruning is very important for creating a neat and compact plant. Pruning your Grevillea “Moonlight” pot plant in spring and autumn increases foliage density and improves flowering.
A good tip prune across the whole plant removes soft growth on the outer stems. This makes the plant more compact and promotes healthy new growth. Avoid pruning old hard wood if possible as it does not always regrow new growth.
Tip pruning with hedging shears is a quick and easy way to trim your plant and is usually the only maintenance that is required on these splendid flowering plants.
The only pest which is a problem on Grevillea “Moonlight” are soil borne “Curl grubs”. “Curl grubs” will eat out the roots and are a major cause of the death of potted Grevilleas. Treatments for these pests are available from garden centres.
Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” – a new Flowering Variety of a Native pot plant
Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” (pbr) is an excellent flowering variety of Grevillea.
Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” has only come onto the nursery market in the last few years, but it is turning out to be a very versatile garden plant. Not only is it great a garden shrub or hedge plant, it also makes an attractive potted container plant.
The plant eventually grows to around 1.5m tall and has a nice compact habit.
The flowers are yellow/orange and very cheery. Birds love the nectar, especially honey eaters and parrots. Flowers develop throughout the year. Regular trimming keeps the plant neat, reduces its size and improves flowering.
Care of your Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” pot plant:
Select a broad pot of good size to grow your “Peaches n’ Cream” and use a good quality potting mix with slow release fertiliser.
Ensure that your pot and potting mix drain well, as these plants do not respond well to water-soaked roots. Position your plant in a full sun position. Water your plant well during the hot part of the year and reduce watering in winter.
Fertilise your Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” each year with native slow release fertiliser. You will also need to use some native liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the spring and summer, this will maximise the development of flowers.
If your Grevillea is looking a touch lacklustre, treat it a few times with a seaweed based liquid fertiliser, particularly in spring and summer to bring back its sparkle
Prune your Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” now and then to maintain a neat shape. Tip pruning with some hedge trimmers in spring and autumn is generally recommended.
The shrub flowers almost constantly, so don’t be too worried about trimming off the flowers as they will grow back.
The only pests that Grevillea “Peaches n’ Cream” seem to be attacked by are Aphids on the new growth and soil borne “Curl grubs”. Aphids are easily fixed with a spray of Pyrethrum.
However, infestation from “Curl grubs” requires treatment with a systemic insecticide available from your local garden centre.
This completes our look at some of the best pot plants that you can cultivate, either in your home or garden. For additional information, see below.