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    « Before and After | Main | I'll take a dozen eggs, a quart of milk and a shot of inspiration »

    January 18, 2009

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    Mary Beth

    I love your suggestion of containers when you garden in clay! When we did some remodeling, I had to consolidate my pots in a "holding area" - The holding area was a planting bed that everything struggled in - I had always thought I was doing something wrong there - but the potted items did great! I finally reached the conclusion that I had been knocking my head against the wall by trying to get plants to flourish in that heavy clay. I'm all about the pots!

    Renate

    Very nice Troy! I'm amazed that the Epilobium did well. I have a lot of shade in my garden and have done well with ferns and heucheras. Also a rhododendron occidentale. I've found that many natives do very well in puts, must be the drainage.

    susan (garden-chick)

    Troy, the best thing about having you guest blog is I get to learn new things myself. Other than native penstemon, I don't think I've ever used a native in a pot and probably would have been hesitant to - thanks for the thoroughness of your info.

    Troy

    Which came first, the Native or the Pot? Hmmm

    Mary Beth- Pots are a great way to experiment with natives as well as a total solution for some species. Personally I never got the 'Amend the Clay' theory. Adding amendments for 20 years to get a friable soil... no thanks. Containers, raised beds and berms are the doorway to a world of happy gardening in heavy soils. The other option is to grow local species, however I'll leave that exciting and current topic for another post.

    Renate - I'd love to see a picture of your rhododendron occidentale, are you able to send a copy? I have 20 of the cultivar ‘Irene Koster’ here at the moment that will no doubt find happy homes shortly. I used both my white form and the 'UC Hybrid' cultivar of the Epilobium. The hanging baskets are 18" deep by 12" wide. I used a mix with a fair amount of coir and watered them once a week. They looked incredible... this year I'll get photo's.

    Susan - Apart from my earlier efforts in plant drowning, I've not had a problem with many natives in containers. I've been told that our native Salvias have too large a root system to do well, however I have three mother plants that would prove that theory wrong.

    Jess

    Troy,
    So many container plants to try, so little time and space...

    I have a Lavatera assurgentiflora in a medium-sized pot that has shot up from a little gallon plant last spring to about 4 feet now. I'm afraid it may be root-bound. How does one know when it is time to repot into a larger size, and is this a risky procedure? I'm hoping for a nice show of flowers on it this spring. Thanks!!

    Troy

    Hi Jess, thanks for bringing our Channel Island native mallow into the conversation. For those not familiar with the species its worth checking out. It blooms all summer with rose to pink flowers similar (kind of) to hibiscus but a lot more hardy.

    This is a great option for a larger container as the plant can reach up to 8'x8' or taller when happy. Take to it after the rains have finished with the pruners to keep it in check.

    Now is a great time to pot up and let those roots stretch out a bit. The main thing to look for when its liberated from camp '1 Gallon" are curling roots. Try to straighten these out as best as possible without breaking them.

    Try under planting with Artemisia pycnocephala ‘David's Choice’ for contrast. Alternativley Sidalcea malviflora 'Palustre' or Mirabilis californica for a complete pink flower theme. All will break up the hard edge of the container.

    lostlandscape

    I like your ideas for reasons to use pots. Yours look great, and they can solve a few problems for plants that don't get along with typical garden conditions. I've had a dudleya in pots for years that's been a showstopper, and a new addition is a baja galvezia (juncea) species that tops out at a manageable size. I'll look forward to how your romneya does. I've been too terrified to let it loose in the ground in my small garden spaces.

    I guess there's an aesthetic battle brewing here too. Do plants in pots represent too much control of nature for the died-in-the-wool natives set? I'd think people would be happy for all of us to use more natives, potted or liberated into the earth...

    Troy

    I have both Galvezia 'Firecracker' and 'Boca Rosa' in medium sized containers and they both perform well. These are mother plants and are always being raided for cuttings so they stay compact. I've wanted to try Galvezia juncea for a while now so I'd love to hear how yours does.

    http://www.plantoftheweek.org/week179.shtml

    I've planted Romneya in the ground before by cutting the bottom out of a 15 gallon container and sinking it down with the plant as a root barrier. It seems to be working. I'll keep you posted on the container version.

    Here's my two cents on natives: Protect and restore the wild places before it's too late and practice minimal impact, wildlife-friendly gardening at home.

    Native plants require less water, minimal to no fertilizer and are almost pest free (not all bugs are bad). At a time when resources are being stretched, good design and good information can move native gardens from niche to mainstream.

    The soap box is back in the cupboard :)

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