Matching the Plant to the Pot

A shallow yellow gold is the perfect vessel to display these succulents.

A shallow yellow container is the perfect vessel to display these succulents.

What’s even better than fabulous foliage? Fabulous foliage in an equally fabulous pot!

We recently had the opportunity to present a fun foliage-focused seminar at Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Our visit there proved to be one of the highlights of that trip and we spent several hours  taking photographs of the inspirational plant selection and creative displays. (As well as sampling yummy carrot cake and some seriously good coffee).

Soft blue-greens make an elegant monochromatic statement with the aqua containers

Soft blue-greens make an elegant monochromatic statement with the aqua containers

I love anything in blue, from deep cobalt to bright turquoise and have two of these containers in my own garden. Any one of these blue-green succulents above would look right at home in the shimmery blue pots, perhaps with a little silver added for sparkle. Wormwood (Artemisia) perhaps? Or the metallic silver bush (Convolvulus cneorum)? Or even Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ cascading over the edge? Of course a blend of all three of these succulents would have great contrast in texture and form.


Sometimes all you need is one plant in a pot

Bromeliads are typically grown for their brightly colored flowers but the beauty  shown above is a stunning blend of purple and chartreuse, perfectly showcased in this purple container by Le Beau. Who needs flowers?

This single orange succulent becomes the star in the equally vibrant pot

This single orange succulent becomes the star in the equally vibrant pot

I particularly loved the way the nursery had showcased their extensive selection of succulents with brightly colored containers, finding perfect color partners and bold shapes to highlight their unique foliage colors; the orange bowl above is a great example. These plants all require sharp drainage and similar light conditions and since they are short do best in a shallow table top container where they can really be enjoyed up close.


Such subtle detail – can you see the way this green container is the exact same shade as the foliage? Not only that but now you are looking closely you can appreciate the soft yellow variegation and hint of rosy-red which brushes each leaf tip.

Flora Grubb Gardens specializes in drought tolerant succulents (although there were lots of other great plants too), but this simple design trick can be used to make the most of any plant from an indoor favorite to a Japanese maple.

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Thank you to everyone at Flora Grubb Gardens for making us so welcome and to the our new foliage-loving friends that we met at the seminar!

12 thoughts on “Matching the Plant to the Pot

  1. Ena Ronayne

    All too often the pot or container is an after thought. How lovely to see plant and container blending beautifully in this lovely post Shared to my Google+

    1. Karen Chapman Post author

      Thanks for the share Ena! Whenever I teach container design I stress the importance of the pot being considered an important element in the design. These are beautiful examples to illustrate that point.

  2. Grace Peterson

    Although I love the classic pottery pots, I am a “junker” and the old galvanized washtubs really trip my trigger. One of my favorite combinations is a Japanese painted fern growing next to Heuchera ‘Green Spice.’ The color combination is spot-on and there is room in the pot for an annual or whatever seasonal contribution I’d like to try. Great post.

    1. Karen Chapman Post author

      Grace, your combination sounds wonderful – those metallic hues will really pop. Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ would be fun if you had enough trailing room and I found it takes part shade quite well. We also paired the Japanese painted fern with Dolce Blackcurrant heuchera in our book FINE FOLIAGE and it was yummy!

  3. Pingback: Potted Inspiration | Fine Foliage

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