Contain the elephant’s foot
Our pot recipe this month is designed for a sunbaked patio that needs a graceful focal point but not constant care. You need to water it only when the soil is quite dry, although do remember that even the toughest plants, especially those contained in pots, will grow lush, sporting a deep-green, shiny foliage only if they are fed with a water soluble fertiliser once a month in summer.
2 x 4kg Portulacaria afra (Spekboom or Elephant’s foot)
4 x 12cm pots of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana ‘Orange’
1 x punnet of Crassula fragilis
We chose a narrow, tall pot with a wide mouth and some mosaic detail the elephant’s
What am I buying?
Portulacaria afra – Apart from all its ‘green’ attributes, it is a great plant for containers as it remains handsome throughout the year, demanding very little attention and it is a good container mate when mixed with other succulents and hardy ornamental grasses. The two specimens that we picked and planted together as a centrepiece for our pot were spoiled rotten by the nursery staff with ample water and fertiliser turning them into tall, well-branched, curvy numbers in fairly small nursery bags. Perfect accent plants at very good prices.
Carex comans ‘Bronze’– usually called “that dead grass” by gardeners not in the know because of its coarse texture and bronze colour. It is, however, the perfect ornamental grass to use in combination with dark-green succulent foliage – a must-have!
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana x hybrid – the most colourful hybrids in shades of blood red, flashing orange, bright pink, butter yellow and even a downtoned whitish colour has arisen from this indigenous species. These humble plants are the mainstay of the indoor pot plant market. They are available in flower all year round, are easy to grow and are guaranteed to supply flashes of colour when needed. If they exhaust themselves with all their floral performance, simply remove them from the pot, cut them back sharply and plant them in your rock garden where they will flower yet again. Then, fill in the empty space in your pot with some new ones, maybe in a different colour. They are also fairly cost effective.
Crassula fragilis – look under a dry and dusty bush and you will find a crassula. Then hunt between huge boulders and you will find another, with a different appearance. This versatile species and some hybrids will grow anywhere and there are many to choose from. Our fine and dainty little Crassula fragilis has become quite popular with gardeners needing the ‘hung over look’ around their pot edges. The best thing about this little ‘fatty’ is that it takes root wherever it falls – a good thing because one can never have too much of it!