which of these plants will look good in one pot?

greentoe357August 19, 2013

I am generally not a fan of combining different plants into one planter - they may have different watering /fertilizing /light /humidity /temp requirements, but also important for me is they simply may not look right together interior design-wise.

I'd like to at least think about combining plants. Design-wise different plant height levels work, I think - a tall plant in the back, middle height in the middle and a short plant in the forefront of the pot. Or tall in the center and shorter plants toward the edges of the planter, and maybe a vine spilling over to the outside on the very edge.

I do not have any tall trunk indoor trees, but I guess a vine running along it may look nice or some low ground covering plant at the foot of the tree.

How else do you think about combining plants? I am ready to experiment a little with this.

Here is a list of all my plants. Which ones do you think may work well together? I am interested in hearing about other plants not on the list as well.

Aglaonema Siam Red
alocasia poly
false aralia / Dizygotheca elegantissima
caladium x2
calathea "tropical satisfaction"
dieffenbachias (2 kinds)
Dracaena Marginata
bird's nest fern
Himalayan maidenhair FERN
Ivy "Gold Child"
maranta red
philodendron "prince of orange"
phalaenopsis orchid x2
Velvet Leaf PHILODENDRON / P. Hederaceum
ficus burgundy / rubber plant
FICUS Benjamina
hoya carnosa
hoya regalis
hoya brevialata x2
hoya wayetii x2
Jade / Crassula Argentea x2
satin pothos
pothos "marble queen" x3
cycad / sago palm
sansevieria (3 kinds)
Rhoeo "Tricolor" / "Moses-In-The-Cradle"
Wandering Jew / Zebrina pendula

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honestly, it's best not to plant them together, unless all culture conditions match.
as a temp solution with similar, but not quite same conditions plant as if an annual pot: put sev pots inside a bigger pot and backfill with some suitable medium. this way you can focus on aesthetics, and water/feed separately.
light can be controlled by placing shade tolerant plants on the bottom or shaded by other plants.
it's next to impossible to suggest combos without knowing your exact light conditions.
but when you have smaller pots within larger pot - you can swap diff plants at intervals without much deterioration. think office plants/planters. they don't have to be very careful, 'cause they rotate plants all the time and then put plants in optimal conditions for recovery.
i just group the sep pots in groups of 'light conditions' - and then based on color/shape what looks good together, if it's dense enough, pots become inconspicuous and you get a mass of green as if it is a 'plant bed'.
again, that allows me to reshuffle the pots periodically to maintain good looks without deterioration.
certain plants like trailers: pothos, tradescantia, ivy can be combined with most plants, since they are tolerant and dispensable. i love spider plants - grass like , very gracefull in any setting and totally adaptable to any condition. 'fillers' so to speak. you can put smaller/baby pots with trailers/spiders on top of large pots with 'trunks' - it's ok for a mo or two.
think 'dense' foliage. just mass as many plants next to each other as your tables/shelves let you.
you should know by now which plants have similar needs - that should be number 1 condition, unless you can rotate often.
that's generics, i'll look at your list tomorrow for some specifics. smbody with pro experience in hotels/offices of course would be optimal. there's no forum for that, is there?
i'll give you an example of grouping for similar light conditions that worked for me (all sep pots) that include a lot of your plants.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:23PM
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CactusBoss(Zone 5a)

Dieffenbachia with Aglaonema maybe?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:25PM
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this is my standard middle of the room grouping in fall/winter for low light: sansi, zz , pothos and a blooming temporary plant for display (thanksgiving cactus in this case, but i also put there orchids and amaryllis in bloom).

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 9:31PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I don't have any lone plants in pots as of this summer. Far too many pics to start adding them here, but feel free to browse my imageshack account. (Does this link work?) It's mostly plants, but there's some flood and 'weeds' pics, just go past those for more house plants.

If your house is like most, you have one humidity level. So that's not a factor. If you've conquered the 'well draining soil' thing, that's not a factor either, who likes more or less water, doesn't matter.

If you've had these plants for a while, or even years, then you are familiar with their tolerance/requirement for light, so that's what you should base decisions on primarily. After that, it's a matter of whether or not the roots all fit together in the pot, and the foliage above. It's not a decision you have to keep indefinitely, so don't stress too much about getting into it. If you like the visual effect, and the plants will be happy in the same location together all winter, go for it. When spring rolls around, you can redo anything not working or that you end up not liking (or, of course, sooner, if you think there's some emergency.)

Some things tend to have most of their roots very deeply, like a Dracaena. Others have roots mostly at the surface, like a rhizomatous Begonia or creeping plants like Callisia repens and Tradescantia zebrina. So they can be great to pair with the deeper-rooted plants to help everything dry not only more quickly, but evenly as well.

The one caveat, as you've probably already thought, would be pests. If you've got 3 plants together in a pot, and they are all susceptible to the same pests, you'll have 3 plants with that pest if it shows up. To some that would be easier to handle, just one pot. If you prefer to deal with pests manually when possible, it might be impossible with much more foliage packed much more closely together. For that reason, I wouldn't invite any ivy to this party!

A few comments about individuals...
caladium x2 (this can be stored dormant for winter, so no need to use pot space unless you want to.)

Dracaena Marginata - I've had smaller plants decorating the soil surface of these trees for years. heart-leaf Philodendron, Alternanthera, Hypoestes, so many cute little plants to decorate the base of a tree!

ficus burgundy / rubber plant - I haven't had one of these for a few years, but this would be tougher than most, at least the little tree I had. Very full from top to bottom, exceeding the diameter of the pot. Wish it was still here to present this problem, I'm sure something would come to mind.

Any of the vines that can attach to a support can be mixed for a cool combo of dangling and climbing.

sansevieria (3 kinds) - this a toughie. Sans rhizomes are one of the strongest plant entities you'll encounter. Unless there's a lot of room in the pot, Sans would probably squeeze most companions to death, quickly using all extra space in a pot. So although I would do...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:52AM
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ok, I tried to think and look at your plant list and I am at a loss. mainly 'cause I have no idea about plant sizes.
another consideration I thought up: rate of growth. you might want to put fast grower in sep pot that is sunk in a larger pot - this way you can yank it and pot smth else there without complete repot.
here's a suggestion: using paint tool paste small images of your plants together in one or sev composite images, but try to indicate the size of plant by the size of the image.
if you could post smth like that we'll have much better idea of what you've got.
if you can't - then group your list by size of plant with pot size for each approx at least , in groups of large-med-small. and what pot sizes you're planning to use for combos.
I agree with purple that sansi should be on its own or sunk in 'a pot within a pot', so it does not take over.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:16PM
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Greentoe. I looked your list over, but keep forgetting which plants you have. lol.

Do you want your plants in a container arranged height, or does it matter?

The importance is compatibility.

I'd combine Sans together. The same with Hoyas.
Jade would look best solo. Especially if you want it to grow tree-shaped instead of bushy.

Tall plant in the center, surrounded by vining plants look good.

Maranta and Calathea work. Do they hang or grow upright? 'When mature.'

Birds Nest solo.

I'd need to jot down all your plants to remember which you have. lol

Pet...your Thanksgiving Cactus is amazing. So many flowers.

Purple..I like your combo but love the hummer. :)
What a cutie!

Don't know if it's my eyes, but hummer seems to blend with the foliage. No wonder I rarely see them.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:48PM
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A detail of Purp's hummer for those who couldn't see it. :)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 6:03PM
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Thanks everyone, lots of food for thought and ideas here - all highly appreciated. Beautiful pictures, too.

I see now the list of plants is of limited use without seeing how tall /wide /which variety the plants are and how they are trained (duh!) I am waiting for a 5-level shelving to be delivered from Home Depot and already have a grow light for the top shelf, and I think the pictures of that setup with all the plants arranged by height and light preferences will make it significantly easier to give me more personalized and relevant advice. I'll make close-ups so that relative sizes can be seen better.

Petrushka, love the idea of lots of foliage with one winter bloom plant in there - looks great. Would have been bland without the blooming color.

Purple, yes, the imageshack link works.

Humidity throughout the house is not the same - I have a humidifier I will put next to the most moisture loving plants in the winter. In the summer, when a/c is on (rarely), it's on in one room but not others.

Well-draining soil is in place for most of my plants - but I thought drought-loving plants still need to be watered less than moisture-loving ones, no?

Re my experience with these plants: somewhat limited, and my lighting conditions are about to change drastically, and this winter will be the first with a humidifier, and the soil is relatively new, so I guess all past growth rate and other history goes out the window - good problem to have for sure, as these are improvements.

Toni, all good ideas, but maranta+calathea is especially interesting considering how my plants look. My calathea is a bunch of petioles growing from a very tight one spot in the pot, the rest of the mix looking bare. Maratha is a bunch of separate smallish plants (8 or so) that are currently loosely spread about in a 6' pot. I am thinking calathea surrounded by maranta may look interesting. They both had small root structures if I recall the last repotting correctly. They require similar care. And the similar "praying" behavior of both plants should look interesting in the same pot.

Re sanses: I have 2 kinds (3 shoots in the same pot), and I am getting 2 more kinds in the next few days in the mail. I'll see if they look good together when I get them.

Generally, good design and eye-pleasing everything (plants, pots, shelves, pots etc.) are very high on the list of my priorities, with plant growth and well-being a second.

Thanks again, all, and I'll be back with the pictures.

As a P.S., I think we need local meetups. I would totally have a little wine and cheese or whatever party (and lots of plant talk, of course) - and getting advice when you can actually see the plants live would be invaluable. Did anyone have experience organizing such things?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:16AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

"Well-draining soil is in place for most of my plants - but I thought drought-loving plants still need to be watered less than moisture-loving ones, no?" You didn't mention any cacti or succulents besides the jade. The orchid is in its' own category, AFAIK, and bulbs like Amaryllis are different from the others. That leaves the rest. Not personally familiar with all of them, but all sound like fairly 'normal' house plants that like evenly moist but never soggy soil.

It's my theory and ongoing observation that if two plants that use water at a slightly different rate are paired together, the one that uses more water will help the other one by drying the pot more quickly. I've had various plant pairings for decades, but paired everybody with at least one other somebody this year. Not anticipating any, but I'll report on any failures, I always do.

With the humidifier, and light rack thing, it sounds like your home is already a "step above" regarding being a special plant place. I've never tried to enhance humidity, so will leave that discussion to those who do get into that.

I've organized a plant swap before, but not a wine'n'cheese schmooze. Sounds like fun, but seriously doubt anybody on here is near me! That's pretty much what we do here with pics, and too many Seinfeld references.

Instead of soliciting suggestions from a list, it might be easier or less confusing to just seek reasons to veto pairs or triples you're considering. But folks here love to yak, whatever way you want to do things is most certainly fine. I'm with ya!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:18AM
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another approach for which plants can grow together is a greenwall: obviously similar culture req./light/etc.
e.g. look at this list to see if your plants are on it (saw many) and also for ideas about other plants to add
of course, on the wall they are about the same size, no container arrangement, but at least you can see lots of plants at once for ideas.
there's some container ideas here that might be usefull in general

This post was edited by petrushka on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 16:06

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:57PM
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>> Instead of soliciting suggestions from a list, it might be easier or less confusing to just seek reasons to veto pairs or triples you're considering.

Yeah, you are probably right. I just took a bunch of pairing pics I am considering and wonder what you guys think. First though, as a "big picture", this is an early iteration of my setup, with only half the shelves occupied. I might get another light like that, which is a four 54W bulb 4-foot T5HO fluorescent fixture. This is in addition to window sills and floor space, obviously.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:45AM
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This has already been combined - three kinds of Sansevieria.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:48AM
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These 8 or so maranta plants (right) can go into the empty space around the calathea, don't you think? The "praying" action, which is lifting all leaves vertically at night and opening them horizontally to the light during the day, which both of these do, can look interesting in the same pot. Maranta has a trailing habit, which calathea doesn't, so that needs to be managed - which is the case even if they are planted separately, so no problem, I think. Care is similar.

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 2:34

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:56AM
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There is mix space around the Tradescantia Spathacea (left) for these little Tradescantia Zebrina pendula plants (right). The former is upright and the latter tends to fall over the edge of the pot, which will work well in combination, I think - as will the colors (both have purple in it, as does the pot). Both like lots of light and moderate water.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:02AM
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Can both of these hoyas be planted together? NOID on the left (Carnosa Variegata? Rubra?) and Carnosa on the right. Both plants are small and their roots at last repot were even smaller than I would expect looking at the tops of the plants, so there is definitely space in the mix in the same size pot. Any issues with two Hoyas bothering each other somehow when planted together?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:06AM
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Until these Jades grow up, can they go to live around this Sago Palm in her pot? Both like dry feet and lots of light.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:09AM
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I think I've heard repeatedly over the months a big garbage bin next to my building calling for this sad-looking croton with only one original variegated leaf remaining. If the leaf is gone, so is the plant, but meanwhile can it live with the Dracaena Marginatas for a while?

Both are fussy about their waterings, I read, but not sure if in the same way. Croton also likes more light than the D. Marginata, so the pairing is not ideal. It's based more on the plants' configuration and size.

This post was edited by greentoe357 on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 2:38

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:16AM
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I've started training this Philodendron Hederaceum Micans up a pole, but instead I can let it hang out of this Alocaasia Poly pot. Good light and plenty of water, and both should be happy - although I would like to see bigger leaves on the Philodendron, and I understand letting it climb to bright'ish light is the way to do that.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:29AM
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There is also this big pot where recently rooted tip of an overgrown and thrown-away by neighbors Dieffenbachia (Seguine? Bausei? don't know, appreciate if you can tell me) lives in. Plenty of space around it. When/if the Dieff gets tall and lower leaves fall off, then that place would beg for an ivy or something that can climb up the Dieff's stem. Even now any number of things can go there. Only thing is, the light is unlikely to be bright there because it's a floor plant.

And I think I am going to stop here with the pics - I am good on the rest of the plants. The Aglaonema I have looks very pretty alone, another Dieffenbachia has foliage wider than the pot, so ditto there. There is a ficus burgundy that I did not take a pic of now - same idea as the Dieffenbachia pic attached to this post.

What do you think about all of this? Any other pairing suggestions? (I feel a bit like pairing wine with food at a fancy restaurant.)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 2:30AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

In general, yes, yes yes!!

I'm a fan of the Sans! Agree with Calathea/Maranta, the Tradescantias, jade/Sago...

Croton - I wouldn't pair this spider mite magnet with anybody else, unless it's a plant known to be impervious to them! Same for the ivy, maybe put the Croton and ivy together so the SM's die of indecision faced with 2 favs?

You could put the Drac with the... didn't get to anything suitable, IMO/E.

The Philo/Alocasia - I would do this but keep the pole for the Philo to climb up, past the Alocasia. Generally, to get larger leaves, a vine needs to climb. The ephemeral leaves of Alocasia aren't suitable.

I might put the Dief with the Tradescantias. Maybe it could pair with the Hoyas? IDK Hoyas.

In the top pic, I'd trade Dracaena with Tradescantia spathacea, regarding light exposure.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:03AM
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>> Croton - I wouldn't pair this spider mite magnet with anybody else.

Purple, have you considered a crime fighting career to make use of your predictive powers? After my posts here I found spider mites on several plants including this croton. I used the excuse and paired it with the garbage can instead of with another plant. :-) New beginnings!

Thanks for the other ideas, too.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You're welcome. For future reference, SM's aren't a reason to panic on most house plants. They can be successfully battled, and sometimes it's just a tiny regular spider hanging around, keeping an eye on things. But, if they're so likely on a particular plant that they can be predicted, round-filing it may be the best decision, in regard to your sanity and spare time. I might have put it somewhere outside to be all it can be, until it's too cold to be anything... (but that would tempt one to take mercy, huh? You just did it like a band-aid, strong.) Leaves are a fleeting fancy, out with the old, in with the new! We'll always have the pics!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 3:56PM
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Speaking of pics, here is how this Croton looked when I brought it home from Home Depot. Quite a difference to only one original leaf surviving and new growth coming out puny and all-green, huh?

Admiring live plants is better than admiring pictures... I wonder if Home Depot people will mind if I bring a lawn chair to their garden department and sip coffee and read the paper in front of their row of crotons?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 4:05PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

LOL! That's actually not a bad idea. A lot of malls welcome people to come in and walk before they open, kinda similar... coffee with crumpets and Crotons?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 9:26AM
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greentoe, I think you'll need a light for each shelve - otherwise it's too dark for bottom plants.
somewhere in other post I think you mentioned you're getting another fixture?
or you might clip-on side lights to illuminate 2 bottom shelves at an angle. even highlighting them from the bottom with small spot lights (will look very good besides!) can help a lot and will dispell the industrial look.
didn't want to hi-jack calathea thread completely - so why are you so over-concerned with plant growth over winter?
it's normal for most plants to slow down and just maintain the status quo. just keep them drier and you'll be ok.
are you combining them because of limited light/shelving?
I am not familiar with Hoyas, but from other plants, sansi/pothos/rubber plant and philos will take the lowest light for the longest time - so they should be candidates for lowest shelves,etc. sansi is great on the tabletop too.
another thing I would do - hang smaller plants off the sides, elevated mid-shelf to maximize exposure. pothos and ivy are candidates, also may be Hoyas?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Yeah, I am strongly considering another light fixture. I am very happy with the one I've got, but it won't fit on lower shelves - I need to shave off about an inch off the 13-inch depth of the fixture. Thinking of sawing grooves on the sides of the fixture, so that it can be slid into the shelving unit. Looks like it can be done.

There are four shelves for plants with the fifth top shelf for the fixture itself. I am definitely not getting four fixtures in total - thinking on hanging the lights every other shelf, but setting pots looser, so that some light reaches the lower shelves, where more shade tolerant plants will live.

>> are you combining [plants] because of limited light/shelving?

Several reasons. I like the look of full pots. Aesthetics can be improved (I would not do it otherwise). Experimenting with combos is interesting. Limited space with good light (plenty of other space though). All of these are my reasons.

>> another thing I would do - hang smaller plants off the sides, elevated mid-shelf to maximize exposure.

Yes, I also thought of that. I deliberately bought the 4-foot wide light fixture for the 3-foot wide shelf to max the light availability for plants, and because 4-ft fixtures are so much more widely available. Those plants off the sides of the shelves are hopefully benefiting from the light, as well as from slightly higher humidity because plants are grouped.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 7:20PM
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