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The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 7)

One of the best pot plants - Vivid Green Dracaena Fragrans or Happy Plant


This is the seventh part in our series on the best pot plants for the home, whether indoor or out
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We also suggest that you also check out our introductory article: Smart Tips for Growing Healthy Pot Plants at Home

We have also compiled guides to how best to grow roses in pots for the home; how best to grow palms in pots; and the best large pot plants for using as privacy screens.

Plectranthus “Mona lavender” shade pot plants

Finding a colourful flowering potted house plant to grow in a shaded spot can be harder than you think. But here at Greenfingers, we like a challenge and finding such a plant is exactly what this list of best pot plants is about.

Unfortunately, most shade plants that are easy care do not have a great flower display but Mona Lavender is one that does.  These are a terrifically easy plant to grow and they love semi-shade and shaded spots.   They make a great small pot plant to place on a windowsill or large table on the patio.  

The leaves are a dark green colour with a purple underside and the flowers are a dark purple.  Flowers spikes develop in sprays and cover the plant through the warmer months.  Plectranthus “Mona lavender” do not need constant care, being fairly low water use.

Mona Lavender is quite a durable pot plant, generally having a life span of over 5 years . They can grow fairly quickly under good conditions so you may need to cut it back or re-pot the plant to a larger sized pot.  

Plectranthus “Mona lavender” grows best in temperate and warm temperate regions, however will grow in cooler climates in a warm niche under cover.   

“Mona lavender” is a thoughtful plant to give to a friend as a housewarming gift, as each year they will be rewarded with pretty flowers. Just another factor that puts it on our list of the best pot plants.

Care of Plectranthus “Mona lavender” pot plants:  

To care for your “Mona lavender” make sure you plant them into a good quality, well drained potting mix.  Azalea/Camellia potting mix would be excellent. 

Use a slow release fertiliser.  Flower development and growth can be improved by the use of NPK liquid fertilisers.  “Mona lavender” responds well to Seaweed based fertilisers and tonics.  

If your soil has become a bit stale use some wetting agent to improve water holding.  Plants may require pruning once a year to keep foliage compact.  Prune plants after flowering.  Pests are not normally and issue with this plant.

Poinsettia colourful sun or shade house pot plant

If you are looking for a colourful house plant to grow in a pot for winter cheer, then the poinsettia could be amongst the best pot plants for you. 

Poinsettia plants have colourful leaves which develop in winter on the outer branches of the plant.  They are commonly grown as a potted colour plant to give as a gift around Christmas time.  

Most of these are specially grown in light controlled greenhouses to develop the out-of-season leaf colour.  You can grow Poinsettia plants at home in pots and come they come in a variety of colours.  Poinsettia plants make great pot plants for full sun or part-shade positions and are surprisingly hardy.  

Poinsettia plants come in a variety of sizes from large shrubs which grow to around 4m, to dwarf varieties which are around 2m.  There are also miniature varieties which have come onto the market which only grow to around 50cm. 

These newer varieties of dwarf and miniature poinsettia are excellent for growing in pots.  They can be grown in full sun or part-shade around the house on patios etc.  

The colourful leaves develop around the tips of the branches, these are not flowers but leaves and they last for many months in some cases.  The leaf colour change occurs in winter when there is not much colour around the garden.  

You can grow any sized Poinsettia in a pot, but they will need pruning at some stage, to manage growth.  Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring once the plant has lost foliage colour.   Poinsettia plants are usually quite long living so you should be able to keep a poinsettia plant in a pot, with a little care, for many years

Poinsettia plants come in various colours from reds to pinks, whites and yellow. 

One of the best pot plants - Christmas Poinsettia and Ferns Basket

Care of Poinsettia pot plants: 

To care for your potted poinsettia plant make sure you plant them in a good quality potting mix.   Use a slow release fertiliser. 

Poinsettia plants mainly grow in spring and early summer.  Fertiliser is important as plants look much healthier when actively growing.  Usually Poinsettia plants need a boost around the peak growth period in spring. 

You can use a single dose of general purpose garden fertiliser, or use some liquid fertiliser every two weeks during spring and summer.  A seaweed based plant tonic will assist plants which need a bit of TLC.

Pruning should only be required once or twice during the growing season to keep plants compact.  Stop any pruning in late summer to allow plant to develop leaf colour for winter. 

Poinsettia grow well in full sun or part-shade on a veranda and these plants tend to stay more compact in sunnier positions.  Plants coming from a shady spot may take a while to adapt to full sun.

Gaura Butterfly Bush flowering house pot plant

This little plant really looks like a bunch of butterflies drifting on the wind.  Gaura lindheimeri is the botanical name of this very hardy and colourful house plant. 

Gaura “butterfly bush” is commonly grown as a garden plant, but it also makes one of the best pot plants if you pop it in a container indoors.  If you are looking for something to brighten up your day and you don’t have room for a garden then what about growing these excellent flowering perennials in pots. 

Gauras love the sun, so find a sunny corner to place them. They don’t mind windy spots either. 

Gaura “Butterfly bush” mainly flower in the warm part of the year, but in some areas with mild winters they may flower longer.  Gaura will grow in any climate (as long as there is water) outside the tropical regions.  They are usually drought tolerant and can tolerate light frosts.  

They are usually grown as a perennial and can go on for years in a pot.  However, if you live in an area with very cold winters you may like to grow them as an annual.  Gaura “butterfly bush” come in a variety of sizes, the smaller ones being best for pots. 

There are a heap of new varieties coming onto the nursery market, and the majority do well in pots.  Gaura flowers mainly come in whites and pinks. 

These plants are known for being hardy and do not need much water.  They are a low growing plant, which send out dozens of flower spikes.  Plants are very easy to care for only needing a good hard prune a few times a year to keep them compact and flowering well.

Care of Gaura pot plants: 

To care for your Gaura use a good quality potting mix and some slow release fertiliser.  Plants do best and become more drought tolerant in a good sized pot.  This allows for root development and moisture holding.  Small pots seem to dry out quickly with this plant.  Use a self-watering pot if possible. 

Gaura “Butterfly bush” grows extremely well on liquid NPK fertilisers.  To get the best flowering, feed with liquid fertilisers once a week when watering.  An application of 3 month slow release fertiliser around the surface of the pot is also quite effective.  There is no need to fertilise in winter.  

Plants can go often dormant in winter and so this is a good time to prune them back.  You can prune this plant at any time of year to create more compact growth.   During winter flowering may stop for a few months, but they will jump back to life once warm weather starts again in spring. 

Flamingo flower (Anthurium) – a stunning house plant

Anthurium (Flamingo) flowers are one of the most popular flowering indoor and patio potted house plants.  

If you want drama and vibrant colour, this is one of the best pot plants for you.

They are very easy to maintain and can last for many years in a pot if grown in the right conditions.  Anthuriums are a clumping plant which means that they are unlikely to outgrow their pots quickly.  

Flamingos have elongated, glossy leaves and upstanding flowers which appear throughout the year.  There are various flower colours from reds, pinks and whites.  

In the retail nursery they will come under various promotional names and many new varieties have been developed, so you will have plenty of choices.  

Anthurium Flamingo flowers do best in shaded conditions on the patio and bright light conditions indoors.  They do not normally do well in direct sunlight,  however in some tropical climates they will grow outdoors.  To grow them on a patio place them in a spot out of the wind with consistent shade. 

When growing them indoors place them in a spot which gets a long duration of bright light, but avoid direct sunlight if possible.  Anthurium will grow under artificial light (as you find in offices),  but they flourish best with natural light.   A sunny kitchen or entrance area is a good spot to place the Flamingo flower.   

Self-watering pots are a convenient way to water this plant and adding liquid fertiliser during the growing season will keep them looking and flowering well.  

One of the best pot plants - Isolated red flamingo flower (anthurium) blossom

Care of Anthurium “Flamingo flower” pot plants: 

To care for your Anthurium “Flamingo flower” pot your plant into a appropriate sized pot with some good quality potting mix. You can use a small pot for Anthuriums of around 25cm wide for a good result.   

Use some long lasting, slow release fertiliser of around 12 months, you can purchase indoor slow release fertiliser at your local plant nursery.  If you are growing your Anthurim indoors a self-watering pot is a good idea.  On the patio you an use a pot with a saucer, or self-watering pot. 

Anthurium plants can flower all year, so they will need to be fertilised for best results.   Use some liquid fertiliser once a fortnight.   Liquid seaweed fertilisers with NPK are also excellent for Anthurims and will improve flowering if used regularly.  

Pests are not normally an issue with your Anthurium plant,  however if grown in heavy shade they can get Mealy bug and sometimes scale insects. White oil is usually sufficient to fix these issues. 

You could also consider moving the plant to a new location with more light, as a healthy plant gets fewer pests.

Happy plant – Dracaena patio & indoor pot plants

Happy plant pot plants had a big burst of popularity in the 1980’s when they were ubiquitous in what seemed every home and office.

Since that time they have become less popular.   However, they remain one of the best pot plants to grow around the house or workplace.

We don’t know the origins of the name ‘Happy Plant’, but maybe it’s because these plants are just so easy to look after. These plants always seem to be in good health and growing happily.

Happy Plants are in fact a Dracaena which is a group of indoor & patio plants.  They are hardy, low water-use and easy care. 

“Happy Plants” have broad strappy leaves with, light green stripes.   “Happy plants” can grow in low light conditions, but look their best in bright light conditions.  When growing them indoors find a spot which gets constant bright light, but not direct sunlight.  

To grow them on a patio, pick a protected spot out of the wind and direct sunlight.   This Dracaena prefers constant shaded conditions.   “Happy plants” can live for 20 years and longer under good conditions. 

Care of Dracaena “Happy plant” pot plants: 

To care for your “Happy plant”,  pot them into a large container as they can grow to a good size over a number of years.   If you have a small plant start with a pot of around 25 to 30cm wide.  

Plants can vary in size, but most times they are sold around 40cm tall and can grow to around 2m and larger.  Use a good quality, well drained potting mix and use some slow release fertiliser.   

Self-watering pots are best for these plants,  but a pot with a saucer is a good substitute. 

There may be a point where you will need to prune your Happy Plant as they have a habit of growing vertically straight up.   Once pruned, the Happy Plant plant usually produces new growth from the sides of the stems.  

Fertilise occasionally with a seaweed based NPK liquid fertiliser.   

Pests are not really a problem with “Happy plants”,  but they can get Mealy bugs in heavy shade conditions.   A few sprays, now and then,  with white oil usually fixes Mealy bugs.   You may also like to wipe the leaves with some white oil to remove any dust build-up and make the leaves gleaming and glossy.

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