Large tiered rockeries are undeniably beautiful but they are not always possible to create easily in the average back garden. Instead why not consider planting an alpine display in a container?
When choosing alpines, most will be low growing, but always make sure you check the label for height and spread. Make sure you select plants that are neither too invasive nor too large for your chosen container.
10 to try: Arabis, Arenaria, Armeria, Campanula, Dianthus, Phlox, Saxifrage, Sedum, Sempervivum and Thyme.
All you will need to plant an alpine container:
- John Innes No.2
- Horticultural potting Grit
- Small decorative gravel in your preferred colour (optional)
- A suitable Terracotta pot (s) (available in-store)
- A selection of alpine plants (available in-store)
- …and some gardening gloves!
How to do it…
- 1) Before you fill your chosen pot with compost, add a layer of broken pots or stones to the bottom to aid drainage.
- 2) Fill your container with a 50:50 mix of John Innes No. 2 and horticultural grit. Mix the two together to guarantee a free-draining mixture. Fill your container to within a few inches of the rim to allow you to position your chosen alpine plants first.
- 3) Arrange plants ensuring that any alpines with a trailing habit are placed near the edges. Try not to pack too many plants in at once. Alpine plants will quickly establish themselves and spread out so don’t worry if you have some gaps, they will disappear quickly. Once you’re happy with your arrangement, start planting. Ensure you still leave a small rim after planting for some finishing touches.
- 4) Infill any gaps with more compost and grit, firming each plant down gently. Water in your plants, allowing any loose compost to settle into any remaining gaps.
- 5) To finish off, add a thin layer of grit or decorative gravel over the surface. This not only looks attractive, but it will also prevent foliage that touches the soil from rotting.
- 6) Position your container somewhere sunny and sheltered and allow the soil to dry out in between watering.
- 7) Sit back and enjoy!
Growing alpines in containers can incorporate many different styles and ideas. Traditional ideas include planting in old Belfast or stone sinks as this creates a natural setting. However, over time more fun and quirky ideas have also become popular. Due to their small size alpines can be planted almost anywhere including wooden crates, old shoes, cups and saucers, teapots, bird cages and colanders to name a few. A great space saving idea is a tiered pot tower. Stack together planted terracotta pots of various sizes with one large pot at the base. This inexpensive display will not only add height it will also create an attractive focal point in your garden.
Alpines are the perfect way for adding some bright and cheerful colour to the garden. Over time alpines have earned a reputation for needing lots of attention and being tricky to grow. However, in spite of their delicate appearance, alpine plants are in fact easy to grow and require very little maintenance once planted. The beauty of alpines is their size. Their miniaturised form means that you can grow a large number of different species in a relatively confined space, creating beautiful miniature landscapes.