Christmas Gifts from my Garden

It can be so much nicer to receive a gift that shows thought and effort by the giver, rather than something that is simply gift-wrapped on payment in a shop. Growing plants in containers is the perfect gift for gardening friends, for those in apartments or with a garden terrace, or, in the case of herbs, for those who like to cook. Such planted containers need not be expensive and can be designed to individual taste. If this idea appeals, now is the time to start, since you will want to give the gift well grown and preferably in flower.

Your starting point is to choose a container. A visit to your local nursery will reveal a broad selection available. You can choose plastic, terracotta or glazed containers to suit your needs.

Another idea: If you choose terracotta you can paint a pattern on the pot, perhaps stripes of colour or a simple flower picture, making the gift more personal. Use latex paints in bold and attractive colours.

Remember, too, that a pot with a small diameter won't allow you to grow much in it, whereas a broad rimmed pot is more conducive to mixed growing, even if it is relatively shallow.

Having made your pot selection it's now time to purchase your potting mix. More plant problems stem from poor root growth than anything else, so my advice would be to buy quality potting mix, Debco's Terracotta & Tub or Debco’s PotMate Premium which contain controlled release fertilisers and SaturAid granular soil wetter  are both excellent choices.

Debco Terracotta & TubDebco's Terracotta & Tub or PotMate Premium will ensure that your friends get great results from your gift, with very little effort. Just as long as they water it, things will be fine, though I'll give you some more tips at the end of this article. Remember, one bag of Terracotta & Tub or PotMate Premium will provide sufficient mix for several pots (depending on their size). Your nursery staff will tell you how many bags you will need for the pots you are creating. If you are really friendly you may need two bags or even more!  

Now think about the plants you want to use, remembering the likes and dislikes of your friends. A herb garden is always a success – thyme, basil, sage, rosemary, parsley, and coriander are all easy to grow, but mint may be a bit invasive, or you could use a cute miniature rose surrounded by alyssum or trailing lobelia. If you are a traditionalist, the red and white of mixed pelargoniums may appeal to you.

For the most economic gifts you should buy your plants as seedlings or in small pots. The larger plants are when you buy them, the more expensive they are. That's why you are planting these gifts now, so they've got time to grow and fill out the pots.

If your chosen plants are quite small I would fill your containers with the potting mix and plant them up by carefully pulling the mix to one side with a trowel or your hand and slipping the plants in. Remember all the plants you put together in one container should enjoy similar conditions of sun, shade, and moisture, so they thrive together. Also try to design the planting scheme, either by using a large plant at the middle and planting around it, or by placing the largest plant at the back and the smallest at the front, cascading over the pot's edge.

Once you've finished your planting make sure you are happy with the overall feel of your container and water it well.

Put the containers in a suitable outside position, water them daily in normal conditions, twice daily if it's really hot or windy, and apply a soluble fertiliser every two weeks or so to boost growth. Debco Plant Food is perfect for this.

When the time comes you can tidy up the plants with a light pruning, tie a ribbon around the container into a big bow and hand over a seasonal gift with love and pride.

Give you plants' new owners some advice with their gift:

  • water at least daily during the summer
  • apply Debco Plant Food fertiliser every two weeks for sustained growth and flowering
  • continuously dead-head for better growth and blooming
  • place the container in a sunny or shady position to suit the plants

On the other hand, you may have grown so fond of your gifts you decide to keep them for yourself!