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The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 9)

One of the best pot plants - tunning foliage of Rib Fern Silver Lady, a tropical plant

We continue our rundown of some fo the best pot plants with a few favourites. And for some points on how to get the most out of your pot plants, see our tips.

Crepe myrtle – A flowering potted tree

If you are looking for a spectacular flowering tree to grow in a pot, have a look at the “Crepe myrtle” tree.   (They are sometimes spelled “Crapemyrtles too).

You’re probably used to seeing them as full-blown trees in suburban streets, but they are also one of the best pot plants.

“Crepe myrtle” trees are small deciduous trees which flower for an extended period in summer. They also have attractive foliage which changes to bright oranges and reds in autumn. 

“Crepe myrtles” come in various flower colours from whites to pinks and purples. There are also various sized “Crepe myrtles” from shrubs up to arching trees. In pots the tree varieties usually grow to a size of around 3m and larger. The bigger the pot, the larger the tree varieties will grow.  

Generally speaking “Crepe myrtles” should be grown in larger pots, this aids root development and stops the plants blowing over in strong winds. 

The best place to grow a “Crepe myrtle” is outdoors in full sun. 

The best climates to grow “Crepe myrtles” are cool temperate, temperate and warm temperate regions. “Crepe myrtles” are deciduous trees , which means they will drop leaf for around 3 months of the year. 

However, many “Crepe myrtles” have attractive bark, which will add some winter interest. Being deciduous is also useful if you have a position in the garden which gets summer sun and winter shade. 

To care for your “Crepe myrtle” tree pot plant:  

Pot your “Crepe myrtle” into a good quality potting mix with slow release fertiliser. Pick a large broad pot and water well through the summer period. A large self-watering pot is a good investment and will make watering a breeze. 

Fertilise in spring with some general purpose NPK fertiliser or slow release fertiliser for flowering plants. Alternatively you can use some liquid NPK fertiliser every fortnight through the growing season. 

Pruning can be done in winter, if required. July is generally the optimum time in most climates. 

Pests are not a big issue, but you may get soil borne curl grubs which eat the roots and also aphids in spring.  See your local nursery for treatments of these.

“Crepe myrtle” plants are long-living plants and will survive in large pots for many years, under good conditions. 

Coprosma repens – A low maintenance pot plant

Coprosma repens is a lush, glossy leaf plant that makes an excellent low maintenance potted plant. Also known as the Mirror Bush, this verdant bush is one of the best pot plants to cultivate if you prize foliage.

The great thing about this Coprosma is that it does not need much water once it is established.  Coprosma is also excellent to grow as a pot plant in regions which get strong salty sea winds.  

It is a very hardy plant. The Coprosma Repens is drought tolerant, salt tolerant and wind tolerant, making it an excellent potted plant for the home gardener.

Although they are not a spectacular pot plant, they are very adaptable and create a lush backdrop in a coastal or dry-land area.  

They will also grow in semi-shade through to full sun conditions.  Coprosma Repens does not have noticeable flowers, but has cascading stems which will grow over the edges of the pot and, eventually, right to the ground. 

The best climates to grow Coprosma is temperate, warm temperate, Mediterranean and some subtropical regions. Light frosts are not a problem for Coprosma and the only pests which limit them are soil borne curl grubs, but even these are usually not a big issue. 

One of the best pot plants - This is a bright foliage with a golden middle of the Mirror Bush (Coprosma Repens).

To care for your Coprosma repens: 

Pot it into a good quality well drained potting mix. Full sun outdoors are the best positions to grow Coprosma. Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser at any time of year. Or use liquid NPK fertiliser every two weeks throughout the growing season. 

Coprosma can live in a large pot for around 10 years in good conditions. 

Silver lady fern – a potted plant

The “Silver Lady” fern is our favourite potted fern. More than that, we feel it is one of the best pot plants full stop.

The answer was easy, as our favourite potted fern is the “Silver lady fern”. The “Silver lady fern” is a majestic looking fern with long cascading fronds. 

“Silver lady ferns” look very similar to “Boston ferns”, however “Silver lady ferns” have broader, softer foliage.

The “Silver lady fern” is a very adaptable fern. It will grow from semi-shade conditions to almost full sun. This makes it a great fern to grow on a patio or veranda, where light conditions can fluctuate.

Unlike many other ferns the “Silver lady” fern grows from a central point, it does not spread like the “Boston fern” which can become invasive in gardens.  Most “Silver lady” ferns grow to around 50cm tall, but they can grow to 1m.

To care for your “Silver lady” fern: 

Pot your “Silver lady” fern into a good quality potting mix with slow release fertiliser.  A self-watering pot would be a good choice for a pot. 

To grow well the “Silver lady” fern does require good moisture. Do not let it dry out or the foliage will die back. Old fronds can be cut off as they die to keep the plant looking neat.

To keep your “Silver lady” fern looking healthy, fertilise with a seaweed based NPK based fertiliser every fortnight for best results.

Pests are not usually a problem for “Silver lady” ferns, however they will get Mealy bug in very shaded conditions.  To overcome this problem pick a spot which gets a good duration of light during the day or gets filtered sunlight.  

With good moisture, fertiliser and enough light you will have a beautiful fern which will enhance your home or office environment. 

Kaffir lime citrus (Makrut Lime) – fruiting pot plants

“Kaffir lime” trees are very popular potted plants for around the house.  

They are grown not so much for their fruit, but for the foliage, which is used extensively in Thai food cooking.  

The small trees are well suited to growing in pots as they tend to be small trees, but they must be grown in full for best results.  In large pots “Kaffir lime” trees will grow to around 1.5m tall, but they can be grown in smaller pots if required. 

The trick to growing good “Kaffir lime” pot plants is to keep them growing in a healthy manner. Give them adequate sunlight, water and fertiliser and you will be rewarded with an attractive and productive plant.  

If you are interested in growing citrus, see our article Citrus – Our Ultimate Guide

To care for your “Kaffir lime” tree: 

Plant it in a large pot with a good quality potting mix with slow release fertiliser.  A self-watering pot is a good investment.   

To keep your plant looking good feed each spring and autumn with a small amount of specialised citrus fertiliser.   You can also use slow release for citrus or use some liquid NPK fertiliser once a fortnight through the growing season.  

If you are a keen home chef, then you could be constantly picking the leaves for cooking. If this is the case, it is important to keep your “Kaffir lime” watered and fertilised. If you need to prune your Kaffir lime to shape, prune it in winter. 

The major pests that may affect your “Kaffir lime” tree are Aphids, Scales and Mealy bugs. Also, some beetles like Bronze orange bugs can attack new foliage in spring. 

Given good conditions, you should be able to keep your “Kaffir lime” in a pot for many years. 

We have already mentioned how Meyer Lemons make one of the best pot plants in Part 8 of this Ultimate Guide to pot grown plants.

“Impatiens” – flowering potted plants

Impatiens” have long been on the list of the best pot plants for many gardeners.

“Impatiens” develop a vibrant display of flower colour during the warmer months. “Impatiens” can be grown outside in filtered sun or can be grown in full sun in some climates. 

“Impatiens” grow best in temperate, warm temperate and Subtropical climates. They will also grow in Mediterranean climates with extra summer watering.  

“Impatiens” is an excellent plant to grow on a patio or veranda which gets sun for part of the day. They can be grown in small pots or mass planted in large low pots. “Impatiens” can also be brought inside periodically in homes which have bright indoor light.

“Impatiens” make great hanging basket plants as well as pot plants. They will flower constantly through the warm part of the year in good conditions.

“Impatiens” are generally inexpensive to buy and come in a range of colours, from white to pinks, oranges and purples.

One of the best pot plants - New Guinea impatiens or Impatiens hawkeri flowering plant with large pink flowers and thick petals

To care for your “Impatiens”:  

Pot your “Impatiens” plant in a good quality potting mix with slow release fertiliser. It is important to use a potting mix that provides good drainage as well as moisture holding capacity. 

“Impatiens” have a tendency to die back if the potting mix is sodden. The stems become soft and eventually root off, so be careful not to over water.

To keep your “Impatiens” growing well, use liquid NPK fertiliser every week during the growing season (at the specified rate). A seaweed based NPK fertiliser is best. A sprinkling of slow release fertiliser will also help growth.

“Impatiens” do not get many pests, however mildew and mealy bugs can be an issue. Both of these pest issues usually develop if the plant is in too much shade or is not healthy. 

If you can keep your “Impatiens” healthy, they will reward you with beautiful flowers throughout the warmer months.

“Hippeastrum” bulbs – flowering pot plants

“Hippeastrums” are a large growing bulb which makes a great flowering pot plant. 

“Hippeastrums” develop large trumpet like flowers in late winter or spring. The flowers are followed by broad strappy leaves. “Hippeastrum” plants go dormant in autumn and winter. 

Many gardeners plant “Hippeastrum” in low, broad pots and plant the pots with winter annuals such as Viola in winter when the “Hippeastrum” are dormant. 

“Hippeastrum” grow best in full sun to partial shade. Pots are best planted with a number of bulbs to create the best flowering display. “Hippeastrum” flowers are beautiful and make a great display of pink and white flowers.  

“Hippeastrum” bulbs can stay in pots for many years and are generally easy care and low maintenance.    They simply reappear each spring, year after year with a dazzling flower display.

To care for your “Hippeastrum” bulb plants:  

Choose a broad low pot. Plant three or more bulbs close together in a good quality potting mix. You may also like to grow some annuals around your “Hippeastrum” bulbs, in spring plant Petunias and in Autumn use Viola, Pansy or Lobelia. 

Use a slow release fertiliser when planting your bulbs.   You may also like to regularly use some seaweed based NPK liquid fertiliser after flowering. This will build up reserves in the bulb, so you will get the best flowers next spring.   

“Ranunculus” bulb – flowering potted plants

There are many bulbs that can be grown in pots and have pretty flowers, but one of our favourite bulbs is the “Ranunculus”. 

“Ranunculus” is a thick foliage bulb plant (actually a corm) which develops very bright and colourful flowers for a long period in spring. These beautiful blooms make it one of the best pot plants.

The flowers of “Ranunculus” are very pretty and will lift your spirits as the flowers appear in spring and into summer. The plants produce a constant stream of flowers which generally appear as yellow, red or orange.  

“Ranunculus” is a great plant to bring inside the house as a living bunch of flowers. They also make a vibrant and economical gift to give to friends when visiting.  

The corms are available from nurseries, hardware stores and they can also be purchased on the internet.   They are only a very small bulb, but they develop into a bushy little plant around 50cm tall. 

Once the plants die back, the corms should be lifted from the pot and stored in a dry spot.   They can then be used again the following year, so you will be getting new bulbs at no extra cost !!

To care for your “Ranunculus” potted bulbs:  

Plant them into any deep pot with a good quality, well drained potting mix.   Use 6 month slow release fertiliser when planting. 

“Ranunculus” are usually planted in late winter and grow through spring into summer and die bank in Autumn. The corms can be reused that winter, but must be lifted from the pot for best results (otherwise the corms tend to rot-off).  

When planting your corms plant a number of corms in close proximity, this will create a bushy effect. Make sure you plant the corms with the claws of the bulb down.  

Once the bulbs have begun to shoot in spring you may like to fertiliser them once a fortnight with a liquid NPK fertiliser. It is important to grow your “Ranunculus” in an open sunny spot for best results. 

Aphids seem to be the only major pest of “Ranunculus”. 


The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 1)

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 2)

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 3)

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 4)

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 5)

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 6)

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

The Best Pot Plants: Our Ultimate Guide for both Indoor and Outdoor (Part 10)

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