One way to make better use of the space you have is by combining several plants in the same pot. This is something that can help the place to look more beautiful, while allowing you to grow more species, which you may like to know if you are a collector and / or just want to have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the largest number possible of plants. But it is very important to choose the species well, otherwise they will end up having problems.
On the one hand, they will compete against each other for space and nutrients in a brutal way, until only those that grow faster and are therefore stronger remain; On the other hand, if plants with different water, soil and / or fertilizer needs are in the same container, the weakest ones will also end up falling. So, if you want to be successful, write down the keys to combine several plants in a pot, a planter … or any other container.
To make reading this article more comfortable, I have divided it into two sections: Plants and Flowerpots. In the first we will focus on how to choose the plants correctly, while in the second we will talk about how the pots (or other containers) have to be for the composition to look perfect. Let us begin:
How should the plants be used to make compositions? Broadly speaking , it is very important that they meet these characteristics:
Its adult size is small
The larger a plant, the more space it will need . Therefore, if in a composition we have, for example, a Yucca or Dracaena-type tree or shrub, along with plants such as geranium or sugar cane, the most likely is that the former will ‘steal’ the nutrients from the others, thus preventing them from growing normally.
To prevent things like this from happening, it is highly recommended to choose small or not very big plants, such as bulbous flowers, aromatic plants, or most succulents (succulent plants and cacti).
They have similar cultivation needs
Since I started blogging in 2013 until today, one of the most frequently asked questions is “I have a water stick in kokedama and I’m dying, what’s wrong?”. The words may vary, but the message is the same. And the measures to take, too: plant the water stick in a pot with soil that drains the water well and water it little. Why?
Because we are talking about a plant, whose scientific name is Dracaena fragrans , which is not only unsuitable for kokedamas as it can reach a height of more than 6 meters, but we must also know that it needs a soil that is capable of absorbing and filtering quickly the water, because otherwise its roots will rot. And this is just an example.
If we want our plant compositions to last us for many years, it is essential to choose those that have similar needs . Therefore, we invite you to do them taking into account the following:
- Sun, little water and mineral substrate (volcanic sand): succulent plants, such as Fenestraria, Argyroderma, Lithops, or even some cacti such as Rebutia, Mammillaria or Frailea.
- Sun, moderate watering and peat-based substrate (preferably mixed with perlite): bulbous (tulip, narcissus, hyacinth, …), or aromatic plants ( Thymus vulgaris or thyme, Mentha spicata or peppermint, Rosmarinus officinalis or rosemary, …).
- Sun, frequent watering and peat-based substratum: with these conditions, one must look for aquatic or semi-aquatic plants, such as Alisma plantago-aquatica (plantago), Carex, Iris sibirica , or Lobelia cardinalis .
- Half-shade / shade, moderate watering and peat-based substrate : practically any fern, such as the Nephrolepis, Pteris or the Asplenium (bird’s nest). Also flowering plants such as Viola x writrockiana (pansies) or Begonia.
- Half-shade / shade, moderate watering with lime-free water and substrates for acidophilus : Rhododendron (and azaleas), Camelia, Gardenia, Daphne odora , Forsythia.
Don’t forget to transplant or prune them when necessary
Plants grow, some more than others. When making compositions, the ideal is to look for those that do not grow much, since they will be the ones that will have to be transplanted a few times throughout their lives. So if you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, they’ve taken up the entire container, or some are starting to grow faster than others, don’t hesitate to plant them in a larger container.
On the other hand, depending on the plants you have chosen, you should prune them from time to time. Thus, those that produce numerous side shoots, such as peppermint, will have to be pruned after flowering to keep them ‘small’. If you have opted for succulent plants like Haworthia , or others that tend to produce suckers, these can be separated / removed at any time.
Pots / Containers
Let us now talk about the characteristics of the pots or containers where these plants are going to be, since there are different models and materials, and if we want them to look really good, we have to stop and think a little about it.
The size of the container must be adequate for the plants
Once you have decided which plants you are going to use to create your composition, keeping in mind the adult size they are going to have, you will be able to know if the container should be rather large or rather small. For example, if you are going to grow a few bulbous plants, a small container will be a better choice than a large one; on the other hand, if you are going to plant shrubby plants you will have to do it either with a big pot or with a wide and deep planter.
How do you know that this container is the most suitable? Well, in general, herbaceous, bulbous and succulent plants have a superficial root system, so that, unlike shrubs, they do not need to be especially deep . In fact, they are better advised to plant them in wider than deep pots. But if you have to plant bushy or large plants, do not hesitate to choose those pots that are more or less as wide as they are deep, or that have a greater depth.
The material must be resistant
As we well know, there are pots and planters of different materials: plastic, clay, ceramic, brick. Depending on where you are going to have the composition, one or the other will be more recommended:
- Plastic : it is a very, very durable material, as well as light. Its price is also interesting, so much so that we find good quality pots and planters at low prices. But if it is in the sun, and if it is an area with a high degree of insolation, over the years it spoils, although fortunately nowadays you can find well plastic pots that have been treated to withstand those conditions.
- Mud : it is a material that can be very decorative, so it will look great outdoors. But you must be careful, because it does not resist falls. The price is higher than that of plastic.
- Ceramic : like clay, it is very beautiful but very fragile. Besides, ceramic pots are usually small and without holes in the base.
- On site : one option is to make your own pot or planter with construction materials. Thus, you can make it the size and shape you need, obtaining a durable container. Another advantage is that it can look great both on terraces and in patios and gardens.
It must have holes in its base
The pots or containers where plants are grown must have holes in their base that will serve as a drain. Only if you grow aquatic plants should you choose those that do not have such holes. Why is this important? To prevent the roots from rotting . And it is that, having constant contact with water, the plant literally drowns.
Therefore, in addition, it is not advisable to put a plate under them unless you always remember to remove the excess water after each irrigation.