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Easy shrubs in containers

Choose the plants according to the conditions in the area where the tubs are to be placed

Choose the plants according to the conditions in the area where the tubs are to be placed

Many of the most decorative shrubs grow well in large pots or tubs. Large tubbed specimens are particularly effec­tive on verandahs and patios, and in areas of open paving.



Shrubs that will grow well in con­tainers include Abutilon, several varieties of Abelia, Agave, Ardisia, Buxus, some varieties of Camellia, Choisya, many types of dwarf conifers, Coprosma, Cor­dyline, citrus such as limes and cumquats, Euonymous, Brunfelsia, Petrea, certain varieties of dwarf bougainvillea, Euphorbia, fuchsias, hydrangeas, Ilex (Holly), Lavan­dula (Lavender), Monstera, Nandina, several varieties of palms, philoden­drons, Azalea, Strelitzia, and several varieties of Erica, Hebe and Yucca.


Choose the plants according to the conditions in the area where the tubs are to be placed. Azaleas, camellias and philodendrons should be grown in shady positions; conifers and citrus in open, sunny positions, and the ex­tremely hardy Agave, Yucca and Euphorbia in hot, dry, out‑of‑the‑way places.


A tub 50cm wide and 40 to 45cm deep will be adequate for the growth of even a large shrub for many years. Ensure that it has sufficient drainage holes, and place a generous layer of drainage material in the bottom — broken pieces of pot, pebbles or gravel.


The potting mixture should consist of sandy loam, garden compost, peat moss, and if available, some well‑rotted animal manure. There are several ex­cellent commercially prepared potting mixtures available for those gardeners who are unable or unwilling to make up their own.


Ensure that the root ball of the shrub to be potted has been thoroughly moistened before you transfer it from its existing container. When planting, arrange the shrub in such a way that the top of the root ball is just below the rim of the pot.


As you place the potting mixture around the root ball, firm it in with a piece of wood, taking care not to damage the roots. Continue adding and tamping the potting mixture until it is about 1cm below the rim of the pot.


Water the shrub thoroughly after planting and whenever the soil surface begins to dry out.


Under­sized leaves, lacking their usual colour, and a general slowing down of growth are symptoms of a shortage of essen­tial nutrients. Ask your nursery about locally available organic supplements for containerised plants.


The growth of large‑growing shrubs can be slowed down by occasional root pruning, together with some judicious cutting back. Whenever you remove a shrub from its container for root pruning, it is good practice to scrub out the container, and to use new drainage material and fresh compost when replanting.