Gardening Step by Step,

A themed planting of subtropical species in a large pot will look dramatic and exotic until the first frost. Choose a mix of bold foliage and flowers, and try to use a limited palette of “hot colors” to tie in with the terra-cotta pot. Arrange the larger plants toward the center and back. The scheme will look most effective against a neutral background, where the textures and colors of the plants can be more easily appreciated.

Choosing a Container

Containers for subtropical plants should be a square terra-cotta pot or a similar-sized round one that his approximately 24 x 24 inches (60 x 60 cm).  Use good-quality, multipurpose potting mix and keep plants in a sheltered, sunny position.

Types of Subtropical Plants

  • Canna ‘Musifolia’ 
  • Begonia fuchsioides 
  • Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Star of the East’ 
  • Pelargonium tomentosum 
  • Isoplexis canariensis 
  • Canna (orange hybrid) 

Planting and Aftercare

Arrange the plants carefully in their pots before planting them to see how they will look in their final positions. The scented foliage of the pelargonium is best used spilling over the pot’s edge. Place plenty of crocks in the base of the container before pouring in the potting mix. After planting, water well and keep in a greenhouse or cool, light area indoors before placing the pot outside once any danger of frost has passed. Feed the plants regularly during the summer and make sure the soil is kept moist. Deadhead the canna as the blooms fade to encourage further flowers. In fall, before the first frost, bring the pot under cover.


Gardening Step by Step,

Dorling Kindersley Limited

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