Great Plants for Pots

Gardening with pots is a specialized skill that results in compact and manageable plants for both the home and garden. Potted plants are an easy way to liven up a drab porch or bare patio. While many plants dislike the space restrictions of pots, there are several varieties that will thrive in a pot's confined environment.

Hardy Prickly Pear

Hardy prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) is a species of cactus native to the American Southwest. The plant sports broad green succulent pads that are covered in delicate spines. Hardy prickly pear makes an excellent and functional potted plant, providing bright yellow flowers and edible fruits that have a sweet, watermelon like taste. Hardy prickly pear is low maintenance and requires very little care once established. The plant does best in full sunlight in USDA zones 5 to 10, ideally in a good quality cactus potting mix or in a very sandy or rocky soil. Hardy prickly pear does not require supplemental watering if placed outdoors where it can receive rain.

New Zealand Cabbage Palm

New Zealand cabbage palm (Cordyline australis) is a perennial grown primarily for its rich purple or burgundy leaves, which can reach up to 3 feet in length. The exotic looking palm plant is well suited to containers and can be used as a house plant or as a patio plant. New Zealand cabbage palm is a warm-weather lover that should be grown in USDA zones 10 or 11. The plant will tolerate both partial and full sunlight, provided it has a well draining, fertile soil. Water the New Zealand cabbage palm on a regular basis, but allow soil to mostly dry out between waterings, as the plant is susceptible to root rot and fungal problems.

Rain Lily

The rain lily (Zephyranthes grandiflora) is a Central American member of the amaryllis family that is notable for its delicate, pale pink and white lily blooms. The plant sports thin, grass-like leaves and showy flowers that appear throughout the spring, summer and fall. The rain lily thrives in pots, and may be grown outdoors or indoors. When cultivated outdoors, rain lily does best in full sun or dappled shade in USDA zones 8 to 11. Rain lily prefers a well draining soil that's enhanced with fertilizer every month or so during the summer. As its common name suggests, the rain lily thrives in moist soils and should be watered on a regular basis. Water infrequently during the winter to keep the roots from rotting.

Keywords: great plants, potted plants, plant types

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.