Maida Vale, WA 6057
Ph: (08) 9454 6260
Fax: (08) 9454 4540
The main advantage to growing natives in pots is you can control the conditions, soil and aspect
the plant grows in, and as many australian plants are quite particular to soil types this is a big
advantage. For example many people ﬁnd Boronias hard to grow, but if they are put in a semi
shaded position, with a ﬂuffy humus rich (slighlty acid) potting mix that holds more water, then they
will actually be quite easy to grow.
Banksias and most of the proteacea family like a well drained potting mix with a low phosphorus
fertiliser, the best for these is the Amgrow Native Potting mix. Also use this potting mix for
Macropedias, as they are phosphorous sensitive and come from a nutrient poor soil, while
Anigozanthos on the other hand prefer the richer soils of the Brunings Eclipse.
Another advantage to keeping your natives in pots is that you can prevent some of the damage
done by pests. For keeping snails off your Kangaroo paws, apply a copper ring around the top of
the pot, and they will not go past it. Keeping your pot off the ground using pot feet will also
minimise the damage that ants can do by moving pests around from one plant to another.
Drying out. This is very commonly the cause if a plant dies in a pot. It can be that if the potting mix
dries out it doesn’t re-wet again, then when you are watering the pot the water is running down the
sides, out the drainage holes and the soil is still dry. If this is the case and the pot has missed a
water for a while and you suspect that the water is no longer going in, use a soil wetter, and/or
place the pot in a large bucket of water for a few hours for it to soak up the water.
Too wet! As much as our plants like a drink, if they are left too long with soggy roots, then the roots
will rot and the plant will die. Mostly a problem if there is insufﬁcient drainage holes in the pot, or if
the roots have blocked the holes. In this case it is often worth repotting the plant back into the
same size pot, maybe creating a drainage barrier using some crushed stones. Maintain a regular
watering program and be mindful that if the pot is in a saucer then, the water will be sucked back
up into the pot using capillary action and out in the winter rain they will get pretty wet and soggy.
Problems with the pH! While a good quality potting mix
should have a neutral pH of between 6.5 to 7.5, the
addition of fertilisers and chemicals can change the pH
and this effects what the plants can get out of the soil.
Keep an eye out for Yellowing or purpling of leaves as
this is sign of a pH imbalance. Also know your plants
desired pH range, as some like the Boronia don’t mind it
a little acidic, while others like the Eremophilas prefer
slightly alkaline. Ask in store if you have any queries.
Generally you want to choose a pot that will give the plant some room to grow into, so a faster
growing plant you will want to have a larger pot for. As a rule at least twice the volume is a good
start. Also choose one that will emphasize the features, eg. A ground cover you may want a tall pot
for it to hang down over, while a tall shrub you may want wide and solid to act as a base for the
plant, adding to its stability.
Careful with the shape chosen, as if it tappers in at the top and the plant has a strong root system,
you will never get the plant out from the pot again! While pots that tapper in to a point at the base
will not be very stable and should be avoided in areas of high wind, or if planting a ‘top’ heavy
Keeping a native in a pot and maintaining its size by
pruning actually increases its life span. In the case of
bonsais, some plants can actually be quite ancient
while still remaining at a small size and ﬂowering every
year. Not all the natives make a good bonsai, for a start
try either Acacia ‘Green Wave’ or Melaleuca violacea
prostrate. For more choices, call into the nursery.
Regular pruning is essential in keeping your pot plant a manageable size, but should not be seen
as a chore, as this is the time to sculpt your plant into the shape you want. I like to start by thinning
out any branches that are not desirable then working my way to the tips, and ﬁnally check on the
root system as these may need to be pruned and some fresh potting mix added. Be creative,
experiment with different shapes or forms and ﬁnd the one that matches the pot.
TIP: After pruning is a good time to add some fertiliser, my choice is Organic Native Plant Food.
My Favourites for pots
Leptospermum Pink Cascade in a tall pot (probably a dark colour)
Melaleuca violacea prostrate and Acacia ‘Green Wave’ in a bonsai pot
Kangaroo Paws: Try a cluster of 3 different colours in a glossy pot, Fantastic!
Melaleuca incana nana in a round squat pot, pruned as a ball.
Grevilleas - I have found most to be terriﬁc in pots, favourites would be G. Jelly Baby, G.Supurb
and G. Gilt Dragon. For a large pot and regular pruning G. Moonlight is great too.
Dwarf Banksias like B. ‘Birthday Candles’, B. menzesii dwarf and B. blechnifolia are all great too!