|After three years it is still in its pot
We received a lovely visiting party last Thursday. A very knowledgeable bus load of 52 keen Nottingham gardeners. We were rather apprehensive on this occasion as Boundary Cottage had barely seen one inch of rain in three months, yet ironically there was just a dribble when they arrived! Sods law!
We need not have worried, although their observation was forensic they expressed delight at my strange garden.
|Two years later - still in its pot
No one has previously noticed (or at least dared mention) that a few of my plants - in this case pittosporums and ferns are planted in permanently plunged ten litre plus pots. A lady inquired about this strange practice and made the sensible suggestion that it enabled my somewhat tender pittosporums to be lifted for the Winter. True for their first year or two but not when my now splendid six foot high plants have rooted through. For the record I have had wonderful pittosporums before but they were destroyed by the 2010 double Winter and should minus 16 degrees return these new ones will die.
I have form on this planting technique. Six years ago dear Harry found a plastic pot of three foot high privet in the base of his hedge. What idiot would do this? He never discovered it was me!
|Ferns do not like our dry weather and dry soil but survive in plunged pots
I have explained before that our fine sandy soil is hydrophobic when dry. It repels water and until successfully wetted water refuses to sink in. I have lost several newly planted plants over the years to soil drying out in raised parts of my garden. The point of planting a pot is its rim. If manually watered it just has to sink in and in my case when wetted retains water extremely well. Better than any compost.
|The pots must have large drainage holes
Please note my large pots do contain my own garden soil and if in organic compost my plants could be doomed. Not only are plants reluctant to root out into a different medium, water movement upwards by capillarity and downward by drainage might be impeded.
This technique is counter productive if you do not intend to regularly water until the plant is well established and has started to root through. It might be sensible to enlarge the numerous large holes which are an essential characteristic of the plastic pots I use. I don't.
|I don't need to water now
I don’t need to water my pittosporums now. Their roots are deep in the ground.
|I ought to disguise the unsightly rim better
I have some kinds of ferns that previously always died when planted in the soil directly. They do well with this technique but even now need watering in dry weather. Unlike the pittosporums they hardly root through.
|The clematis has rooted through strongly and next year will find its own water
Now in their second year I have successfully used this technique to establish three clematis planted in 5 inch bottomless pots in dry awkward corners. They too have now made roots deep in the ground but the rims still facilitate extra watering in a dry year like this
This is a much more common practice than my subject today. It is useful to brighten temporary empty spaces.
Peter gave me the above tender large specimen fuchsia with the comment that it seems my kind of plant. I stood it in an empty gap but it kept blowing over. So I plunged it. It might be too big to keep!
I often temporarily plunge pots of alpines or bulbs in larger ornamental tubs
|These near hardy cacti are plunged for eight months before they return to the unheated greenhouse over Winter
I am a little reluctant to advertise unusual methods which for inexperienced gardeners might lead to problems. I am afraid it does not stop me! With this in mind I intend to review very soon a few of my earlier posts which expose some of my eccentricities.
In an earlier post I explained how I am able to use my sandy soil as the bulky medium for almost all of my potting composts. Far better than some of the rubbish offered today.You can read about this by putting 'soil compost' in my search box