New England gardening: Going native with pots

Correa “Cardinal Bells”: A newbie on the nursery scene with a shower of eye-catching orange-red tubular flowers.
Correa “Cardinal Bells”: A newbie on the nursery scene with a shower of eye-catching orange-red tubular flowers.

Balconies, patios and verandahs will all be improved by the addition of some greenery growing in containers. Gardeners usually think of exotics when it comes to potted plants. There are many native plants that will survive and thrive in pots for many years.

First a few words about setting up your potted native plants. What type of pots may be used? Ceramic pots are attractive but once full of soil are a trifle heavy. As an alternative, plants could be grown in plastic pots then these containers placed in a ceramic pot. Containers should be a minimum of 30cm in diameter.

What potting mix should be used? The plants are going to live in a confined space for many years. In this case it is best to splash out and use premium native potting mix. Once established, feed your plants with native slow release fertiliser once every six months.

Water the plants regularly so that they do not dry out. A layer of organic mulch will reduce evaporation.

To keep your potted native plants looking their best, pinch out the growing tips regularly.

The range of native plants suitable for life in pots is considerable. These are just a few that will bring colour to your balconies, patios and verandahs.

To keep your potted native plants looking their best, pinch out the growing tips regularly.

We do not think of wattles being suitable for this restricted form of cultivation but there are some dwarf forms that will cope with life in pots.

Acacia “Bushwalk Baby” is a dwarf form of the Ovens wattle (Acacia pravissima). This ground-covering wattle has a spread of about 50cm, so plants will spill out of a pot.

The leaves are wedge-shaped and in spring plants are covered with clusters of yellow flowers. After the flowers fade, cut off each branch behind the spent flowers. This will keep plants dense and blooming abundantly.

The correas lend themselves to pot cultivation. They have proved to be hardy, free-flowering and long-lived in containers. There is a multitude to choose from but here are a couple worth trying.

Correa “Autumn Blaze” is a compact bush growing to a height of 30cm. The leaves are glossy and spotted with oil dots. The tubular flowers are an outstanding feature. They are bright orange with pale tinge on the petal tips. Flowering extends from autumn through winter. The blooms are conspicuous and profuse.

Correa “Cardinal Bells” is a recent addition to the nursery scene. This compact shrub reaches a height of 1m. The foliage is bright green and the large, eye-catching tubular flowers are orange/red and appear in large numbers in the cooler months. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract honeyeaters.

Eremophila “Thundercloud” reaches a height of 1.5m. Dark green leaves have a succulent feel. Large tubular flowers are purple, full of nectar and appear from late autumn to early summer.

There is a record of an eremophila or emu bush living for at least six years in a pot.

These are a few examples of native plants that will survive and thrive in pots.