Pot-scaping (landscaping with a cluster of planted pots or containers) is a new buzzword for something that savvy gardeners have been doing for a long time.
The aim of pot-scaping is to cluster together pots to create a focal point, soften hard surfaces with foliage and add a colourful landscaped appeal to any area – indoors and out. Grouping together pots of various shapes and sizes adds a splash of style and colour to your outdoor space, whether it’s a substitute for a garden, to fill barren soil that defeats your green thumb, to brighten up a veranda, make an entrance more welcoming, dress up a deck or patio, or to introduce greenery to a confined space like a window ledge or balcony.
When you are selecting and potting up your plants there are a few things to consider: the amount of sun or light in the area you’re going to be pot-scaping; the growing and watering needs of the plants (the secret to success is to make sure you co-habit plants that enjoy the same growing conditions), and ensuring you have visual variety in your plants and pots too.
Use the “Thrill, Fill, Spill” technique when planting to create three layers of interest. That means filling a pot with one large statement or eye-catching showpiece or taller plant (the thriller) in the centre, combined with several plants that spill foliage, texture or colour over the edge of the pot. Finally, add the fillers, which are plants with shorter growth habits fill in the bare spots but don’t take away from the impact or compete with the height of the thriller.
If you don’t have large enough pots to fit 3 or more different plants in them, you can still use the Thrill, Fill, Spill principle in the actual grouping of your pots. Plant several pots of different sizes and heights and group them together to get the same effect. For example, a taller pot with a standard rose, surrounded by slightly shorter pots filled with salvias, lavender or foliage plants like ferns and coleus, that will cover and soften the container holding your thriller plant. For the finishing touch add smaller squat pots of petunias, lobelias or nasturtiums for more colour, or plants like sedum and ivy that puts the focus on foliage and will sit around the base of your filler pots cascading their botanical glory right down to floor level.
Succulents are also fantastic choices for exotic container gardens and creative pot-scaping, either mixed in with flowers or on their own. They’re low maintenance, withstand heat and drought (even neglect in my case) and come in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and colours. Ideal for container gardens, just make sure their pots have good drainage and quality potting mix. Then group your succulent pots together to create a succulent-scape. (Hint: filled pots can be heavy, so choose your location first and do your planting there so you don’t have to heave pots from one place to another.)
Here’s a few ideas and tips to get you started on the road to your pot-scaped paradise:
Choosing a pot
The plants add the personality, but their container sets the mood and theme of your pot-scape. It can be purely plain and functional, as stunning and decorative as you want, brightly coloured, boho or classic, animal themed, or quirky and whimsical. Pots come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and materials – round, square or oblong, terracotta, earthenware, glazed and ceramic, hand painted, printed, debossed and plain, metal and recycled… the choice is enormous.
To get started, have a look at Succtus’ great range of pots – there may be one that’s perfect for your plant and the look you want to achieve.
When sourcing the right pot for a particular plant, take into consideration the proportions between plant and pot. Avoid an awkward plant to pot ratio – the overall height of your arrangement should generally be as tall as your container. This is a basic rule of thumb but don’t be bound by it. There is always an exception to every rule.
Designing your pot-scape
Gardening is art and the right grouping of containers of different shapes and sizes will soon see you creating your own real-life masterpiece. Here are a few design tips to keep in mind.
1. Mix it up
Ensuring you have a variety of shapes and sizes is one of the best ways to add impact. A jumble of different shapes and sizes, mixing and matching styles, materials and colours are easy ways to achieve a more diverse and interesting display. You can also choose a colour theme but use different shades of that colour, and different styles and materials for your pots
2. Linear Repetition works too
Arrange pots of the same size in a linear pattern (for example ascending stairs, straight along a wall or on a balcony rail or window). This can create a necessary physical barrier or be a gorgeous way to accentuate or embellish an area. Potted plants soften the hard lines and angles of corners and make their geometry more pleasing to the eye.
3. Odd is better than even
The number of pots you need will depend on the size and location of your area, and what you are trying to achieve. Typically for a pot-scape, you will need at least 3 pots for a small cluster. Odd numbers tend to work better and look more natural than even numbers – nature is not perfectly symmetrical and your arrangement doesn’t need to be either. Think about trying 3, 5 or 7 pots or more if you have a large space (or a lot of plants like I do) to make up your pot-scape – you’ll be delighted with the results.
4. Get High
Give your pot-scape added dimension by elevating some of planters on plinths, tables, the edge of your balcony’s balustrade or even on top of overturned pot. And if you don’t have any more space on the ground, you can always hang a birdcage filled with succulent from the ceiling or create a lush aerial garden of hanging pots.
5. Contrast is key
Match a simple pot to an eye-catching plant or put a simple plant in a dramatic container. Or if you’re over the top like me, put a spectacular plant in an even more spectacular pot. With Succtus’ amazing range of pots, you’ll be inspired to spruce up your space with a beautiful array of pots (personally, I have my eye on the Zebra planters).
A potted garden is a great time and space saving alternative. It’s practical too – you can grow almost anything in the right sized pot, placed in the right location. Remember flowers for sun, foliage for shade and you’ll be pot-scaping like a pro in no time.