Container gardening can be an excellent way to enjoy the colors and textures of plants without consuming a lot of water. If you thought drought tolerant plants look boring, these beauties will change your mind. Their bright colors and unusual shapes will win you over.
Some of these plants can grow quite large. Consider constructing a container garden that plays with the scale of plants. Use three or five pots (odd numbers of items please the eye more than even numbers) that look like they belong together. Have several small plants in one, and larger plants in the other two.
Here are some to try – these first four plants are smaller and can be planted together.
1. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)
The fat leaves of this hearty sedum need very little water. Just give them a sprinkle to avoid shriveling. This plant looks spectacular in vertical planters that are popular right now. Its tight and mounding growth pattern keeps it nestled into the growth medium.
2. Black Rose (Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’)
The numerous spectacular flower-like rosettes of black-burgundy leaves are a perfect foil for light colored plants. Bright yellow flowers appear in winter and the strong stalks on which the rosettes appear can rise to several feet in its height.
3. Lemon Coral (Sedum Rupestre)
This eye-catching chartreuse plant is a vigorous grower with a mounded to trailing growth habit. Its spiky foliage has a spread of 12-24 inches and an optimal height of just three to six inches.
4. Mangave “Bloodspot”
This compact plant is one of the most attractive of the smaller Agaves. It grows a single, very symmetrical rosette, about 12 inches tall by 15 inches wide. The upright, one-inch wide blades are a mottled gray-green color with dots of burgundy.
These next three plants are large. With regular pruning, they can share space with other plants in a container. Alone in a large pot, they will produce a big, showy plant.
5. New Zealand Flax (Phormium)
The blades of this plant grow about two inches wide and are green edged in red. It will grow up to five feet tall. In hot summers, it features a spike of tubular, red flowers from the center, followed by sturdy seed stalks. This flax grows well under full sunlight or partial shade.
6. Willow Wattle (Acacia iteaphylla)
This container-friendly shrub has lush gray-green leaves. Pale yellow fragrant flowers emerge in late fall to early spring. Left untended, it will grow to up to 12 feet tall and 15 feet high.
7. Albany Woollybush (Adenanthos x cunninghamii)
The Woollybush hails from Western Australia. This shrub gets its common name from the dense, blue green foliage with red tips. This sun-loving plant can grow three to six feet tall and spread four to seven feet wide. Tended in a container, it is a trailing plant that balances taller plants.
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