Indoor versus Outdoor potted plants
While almost any plant can be grown in a container with suitable care (and hardware), some species lend themselves more naturally to pot culture than others.
Naturally compact/dwarf growth habit (both top growth and root system) and ability to bounce back after periods of neglect and over/under watering anre generally desirable.
Many species commonly grown as indoors in colder climates will grow in frost-free partsof Queensland, but note that they may nevertheless require a shaded and sheltered position. Go to Indoor Plants for more about houseplants.
For more sunny and exposed positions in Queensland, a quite different range of species is required. These plants have to tolerate not only the sun (and remember that many outdoor areas around the house have lot of extra heat reflected off walls and paving), but drought.
Unless you have an automated watering system, or are very dedicated, your pots are sure to experience drying out from time to time, exacerbated by wind exposure. Good container plants can surive perioids of dryness and recover quickly without excessive wilting, dieback or leaf drop.
Popular plants for outdoor containers
Plants popular for sunny balconies and patios in Queensland include:
For a shaded or semi-shaded position, also consider:
such as Raphis, Chamaedorea
Unlike indoors, there are many options for growing flowering plants in containers outdoors. The dwarf Bougainvillea and Poysean Euphorbias are exceptional for this purpose. However, you might also consider growing annuals and bulbs in containers for temporary displays of colour.
Pots, Potting mixes
These are discussed further on the following pages:
See also the pages discussing individual plants (see above) for specific requirements
Green roofs and living walls
Incorporating planted material into the architectural design of a building has been receiving a lot of attention lately. While the urban landscape may be improved aestheticaly as a result, the main purpose of these designs is to provide practical benefits to the people using the buildings and the environment in general such as temperature control, air quaility improvement or stormwater management. The following links contain more information about this developing field:
Living Walls Reearch
Overview of the Living Walls concept and current state of development worldwide. The Centre for Subtropical Design, Queensland University of Technology
More Online Information
These links are for general information. Obviously, not all information will be appropriate to your location.
Life on the Balcony
"Gardening Tips for Apartment and Condo Dwellers". Blog, Southern California
Missouri Environment and Garden, University of Missouri
Ferilisation of container-grown plants
This provides special challenges compared to fertilising plants in the open ground. The compontents from which most modern potting mixes are made, and the small total volume used mean that there is very little capacity for long-term nutrient retention but a big risk of short-term over-fertilisation and plant damage. This has given rise to a variety of soluble and controlled-released ferilisers which are especially suited to container culture.
New container for Kew veteran
One of the world's oldest pot plants - a specimen of cycad Encephalartos altensteinii collected from South Africa in the 1770s - has been repotted at the United Kingdom's Kew Gardens. With a trunk now over 4m long, great care and effort was required to lift the huge weight of this famous plant without damage. It now lives in a handcrafted mahogany box. Read more at the Kew website: Ancient cycad, the King of Kew's Palm House, gets a new home
A form of container gardening on a grand scale, the playing surface at the University of Phoenix Stadium is grown outside in a giant tray and wheeled inside the stadium for football games. This means shade problems inside the stadium are avoided and utility of stadium for other events is improved. Read more at The Human Flower Project: 106 Million Players: Super Turf '08
Some gravel plus plants in containers can make a temporary garden. Add some outdoor furniture for an outdoor living area
Large containers with suitably dense shrubs can provide a green screen where it is not possible to plant in the ground. Plants can be moved elsewhere if a more permanent solution is eventaully installed. Large grasses, bamboos or clumping palms might be alternatives
Need more ideas for your garden? Try the Garden Ideas Service