Enjoy plants all year long

Linda Stephens-Urbaniak
On Gardening

Beautifully planted pots can add decorator touches to indoors as well as to our patios and entryways. The same basic design principles that are used for outdoor pots will create beautiful pots to enjoy all year long.

Start with a large pot, 12 inches or more in diameter, that matches or accents the colors you use in the room for which the pot is to be created.

Many beautiful pots are available from garden stores, even box stores, in many colors. Unlike pots to be used outdoors, the one you select does not need to be frost-proof. Be sure, however to choose a saucer of the same color or a clear, heavy plastic one to catch moisture that may leak through. Make sure that the pot has large enough holes for good drainage.

Fill the pot three quarters full of potting soil to leave room for the plants. Remember to use soil specifically designed for the task. Many of the better potting soils are light-weight and have added slow-release fertilizer. This is important as these soils actually have little “soil” in them. Even with the fertilizer in the soil, it will be used up in three to five months, and you will need to add more slow-release fertilizer or you can use diluted solutions of liquids or fertilizer sticks when needed.

You can find plants for your pots at most nurseries, box stores and even grocery stores. There are many wonderful combinations that can be used, stressing the leaves, flowers or size of the plants. Try hard to keep the growing conditions of all the plants the same. African violets, for instance, need a lot of light and will not do well combined with plants that do well in low light, and cactus would not do well combined with plants that need constant moisture. Ask those behind the counter if you’re not sure of the growing needs of the plants you pick.

For a sunny planting mixture that will do well near a bright window (but not in direct sun), try a yellow or orange flowering Abutilon, the flowering maple, planted with the yellow-touched-with-orange shrimp-like flowers of Biloperone gutta called the shrimp plant after the shape of the flowers. Add the beautifully variegated leaves and tubular orange-yellow flowers of Episcia cupreata, the flame violet, at the base so that it can cascade over the side of the pot. This is a combination that can provide both leaf and flower interest all year.

Even areas of the home that receive little light can be invigorated by a small garden in a pot. Try a tall Sansiveria, the snake plant, with narrow dark green leaves edged with creamy yellow for the tall plant. Choose a medium-sized Spathyphyllum, the peace lily with dark green leaves and the occasional pure white calla lily-like flower for the center and front it with Maranta, called the prayer plant, with leaves that are wonderfully veined in red with creamy yellow variegation for easy care. With all plants that are kept in low light, move them closer to a window on overcast days once in awhile.

If you have only a sunny window, you can still have a dramatic display of cactus. With occasional watering and bright light you can be rewarded with outstanding flowers, some with scent and some with flowers of gigantic size. Attractively arranged in a large shallow pot with rocks of various size covering the surface of the soil (choose special cactus soil), your garden will have dramatic appeal.

Every area of the home can be enlivened with plants, and combining several in a beautiful pot can give you a garden to enjoy year ’round.

Linda Stephens-Urbaniak can be reached at

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