Indigenous Plants for Container Gardening

Container gardening provides flexibility in plant arrangement, allows for easier maintenance, adds visual interest with diverse plant groupings and also allows you to grow a variety of plants in limited spaces, making gardening accessible and versatile for any living situation. Using indigenous plants in your containers not only supports local ecosystems, but also ensures that your plants are well-suited to the local climate and conditions. They typically require less water and are more resistant to pests and diseases. Plus, they support local wildlife, including birds, bees, and butterflies, creating a more vibrant and biodiverse environment.

Tips for Successful Container Gardening

  • Choose the Right Container: Ensure your container has drainage holes to prevent water-logging.  Consider the size of the plant and its root system when selecting a pot.
  • Use Quality Potting Mix: A well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix is essential for healthy plant growth.
  • Water Wisely: Indigenous plants generally require less water. Water thoroughly but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Fertilise Sparingly: Use a balanced, slow-release fertiliser to provide essential nutrients without overfeeding.
  • Positioning: Place your containers in locations that match the light requirements of your plants. Rotate containers occasionally to ensure even growth.

We’ve listed below a few of our favourite indigenous plants that are great choices for pots and containers:

Agapanthus

Description: the Agapanthus is undoubtedly one of our indigenous botanical treasures.  They boast beautiful blue or white funnel-shaped flower clusters (known as umbrels) atop of tall stalks from mid-summer to early autumn.  They are very undemanding plants which can withstand periods of drought as well as strong winds and the coastal salty sea air.

Care: They perform best in full sun and well drained soils.  They thrive with annual feeding and mulching and are able to withstand extended periods of dry weather.  In pots, plant them in potting soil with added compost for extra drainage and nutrients and place in a sunny position. Protect container-grown plants from excessive wet, but also don’t let them dry out and in colder areas, provide them with a protected site during the winter months.

Tip: Use tall containers to showcase their dramatic flower spikes.



Barleria obtusa

Description: a small, hardy, evergreen, drought resistant shrub that produces a spectacular mass of long-lasting dainty purple-blue flowers in autumn.  It grows well in sun or semi-shade but blooms more profusely in the sun. It is great for pots and containers and it’s a low maintenance plant, other than needing a little pruning at the end of winter.

Care: grows very well in full sun or semi- shaded conditions.

Tip: Suitable for hanging baskets or raised containers for a cascading effect.



Clivias

Description: Clivias are one of South Africa’s indigenous super stunners and have become quite the collector’s dream.  They produce dramatic trumpet-like flowers in shades of oranges and yellows.  They can be grown as houseplants in a well-lit area, in shaded beds, or in pots on the patio with no direct sunlight.  They are most active from autumn to spring, but they’ll retain their lovely evergreen foliage all year round.  Clivias flower best when slightly pot bound and so with sufficient feeding they can thrive in the same container for many years to come.

Care: Prefers shade and well-drained soil. Water moderately, allowing soil to dry between waterings.

Tip: Ideal for shaded patios or indoor spaces with indirect light.



Dietes grandiflora (Wild Iris) 

Description: a very hardy, evergreen, fast-growing plant with sword-shaped leaves and elegant white flowers with yellow and violet markings. The flowers bloom in abundance in spring and summer, with blooms often appearing after rainfalls. While each flower only lasts a few days, the sheer volume of blooms during peak periods makes the plant incredibly striking. Dietes grandiflora also grows well in coastal gardens in partially shaded positions that are protected from the wind.

Care: this tough plant will grow in most soils (preferring well-draining soil) and once established, will survive harsh growing conditions.  It thrives in full sun, but also serves as an excellent filler in light shade under trees.  In pots and containers, it will give the same contemporary ambience as grasses planted in containers.  Just be sure to choose a large container. Do not remove flower stems as they continue to flower for several years.

Tip: Ideal for adding a touch of sophistication to patios and balconies.



Gazania (Gazania rigens)

Description: loved for their vibrant, daisy-like flowers in a variety of bright colours, these low-maintenance beauties are excellent for brightening things up.  Gazanias thrive in full sun. Morning or afternoon shade may cause the flowers to stay closed for a portion of the day and may cause the plants to grow lanky.  Their leathery foliage is a clue to the high drought tolerance of this flower. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

Care: Loves full sun and tolerates dry conditions, preferring well-drained soils, even tolerating poor soil.  Compost and supplemental fertiliser aren’t necessary.

Tip: Perfect for sunny spots where other plants might struggle.



Osteospermum (African Daisy)

Description: The striking bold colours of this indigenous beauty clearly dispel all and any suggestions that indigenous gardens have to be dull, dreary and boring.  These low-growing evergreen shrubs have stunning daisy-like flowers that vary in colour, with unique petal shapes and unusual patterns. Flowering can be encouraged with regular fertilising in spring and summer, as well as dead heading (removing spent flowers).

Care: grows best in well-drained, light soil in a full sun position (the more light you can give them, the better they will bloom).  Their flowers are light sensitive, often closing on cloudy days and at night.

Tip: Excellent for hot and dry areas, and are well-suited to growing in pots and containers



Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga) 

Description: this evergreen drought-resistant shrub is loved for its showy compact clusters of orange or white velvety, tubular flowers that boom in circles along the tall stalks from February to July.  The flowers attract birds and butterflies to the garden.  It’s great for coastal gardens, tolerating wind and salty sea air conditions.

Care: it thrives in full sun to light shade with moderate watering. Tolerates poor soil conditions, provided the soil is well-draining.

Tip: Prune regularly to maintain shape and encourage bushier growth.



Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)

Description: A vigorous, rambling shrub with large spikes of funnel-shaped flowers in orange, yellow, red, bronze or salmon colours, rich in nectar.  The flowers are borne from early spring, throughout summer and into the winter.

Care: Thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Requires well-drained soil. Can be pruned to maintain shape and encourage bushy growth.

Tip: Prune to control growth and shape, making it perfect for trellises or as a centerpiece in large containers.


DISCLAIMER:  The information presented on this website is intended solely as a general guide. We neither endorse specific plant varieties over others nor claim expertise in stock performance. All information is believed to be accurate, based on private inquiries and experiences, and is provided in good faith. Blackwood’s, including its employees, disclaims any responsibility for harm, loss, cost, or damage arising from the use or reliance upon any information on this website, especially if any part of the information proves to be inaccurate or incomplete. Please note that the displayed photos are not representative of current stock but are used for illustrative purposes only.