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Australian Native Plants in Pots for Christmas

What could be nicer than giving someone a piece of Australia for Christmas? An Australian native plant will bring joy all year round with the smell of the foliage and the flowers, and will help attract visitors such as butterflies and birds to the garden. A gift that keeps on giving!

Now is a great time to hit the nurseries and pick up a few plants. They will have time to harden off, or get used to life outside the nursery, and will be in good shape for Christmas. A plant for Christmas can be a quick buy, or you can take a little extra time and repot the plant.

If you are short on time, buy a plant and a nice pot. Then it’s just a matter of a ribbon perhaps, and you are finished. You may wish to add some native potting mix, perhaps if you are doing a few pots, you might like to divide up a bag and put it in a snap lock bag. A few water crystals as well, maybe a trowel or some other garden related gift and you have something that anyone with a garden, unit or even a balcony would appreciate.

If you have a bit more time, then you may like to pot up the plant yourself. Select a pot that suits the receiver’s house, and also complements the plant. Terracotta pots are generally suitable, however they dry out quickly, so a plastic version is an easier care option, not to mention lighter to carry. Glazed pots generally work very well. Choose a pot that is larger than the plant, if you can fit your fingers down each side then that is probably about the right size.

Potting mix can be confusing, however chose a mix that specifies for native plants as they do not like too much fertiliser. The more expensive brands are worth the extra money. Mix a handful of water crystals into the mix as well, pots dry out quickly in summer. Don’t use garden soil in pots as it sets like cement over time.

To repot, soak the plant thoroughly. If it still seems dry or the water runs away without soaking in, then you may need to soak the whole pot in a wetta soil solution overnight. Then tap the pot upside down to loosen the pot. You may also squeeze the pot all around. Do not pull the plant out as that can break or weaken it. If the roots are thick and matted, pull out a few, or even cut off any wrapped around the bottom of the pot. The idea is to encourage the roots to grow into the new soil rather than around in the shape of the old pot.

Mix some water crystals into the soil in the pot. Gently place the plant in its new home, with a layer of soil on the base of the new pot, and trickle soil around it, banging the pot to settle soil in firmly. Water it thoroughly. A mulch around the top will help keep the moisture in, so use some bark mulch, or pebbles look very attractive as well. Don’t forget to put the plant label back with it.

As for the type of plant, you should consider what sort of plant they might like. A large block? Then a grafted gum, westringia, silver princess gum, native frangipani or a larger grevillea would be suitable. A native finger lime would be a nice gift for a foodie friend. A shed to cover or fence? Then hardenburgia or pandorea (this covers a big area) will be appreciated. These will need to be planted out in Autumn.

A suburban garden? A shrub or smaller plant would be a nice gift. Mint bushes, smaller grevilleas, correas, epacris, acacia cognate dwarf, dampiera, grasses and daisies would all fit well into an average garden.

A flat with a balcony or a small unit or rental? A groundcover to hang over a pot such as scaevola, myoporum or daisies, a variegated correa for interest, or a lilly pilly either a standard or to clip for the lovely red flush of new leaves. A pink mulla mulla would suit a very sunny balcony, or a shadier area might prefer a banksia such as birthday candles. Other feature plants include kangaroo paws (check the height). A hardenburgia on a tall trellis in a bigger pot would also be a feature. A larger low pot with several plants of varying heights would be like a small garden on its own.

Until next time,

Happy Holidays from The Potting Bench

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