Top 20 Plants for Your Pot

Here are 20 plants we recommend that work well in pots and can be used to add colour, structure, and interest to your outdoor space. This list contains a mix of feature plants and groundcovers and both exotic and New Zealand native choices.

# Name Common Name Description and Care Use and Size
1 Xeronema callistemon Poor Knights Lily Endemic to the Poor Knights Islands. Attractive, green flax-like leaves up to 1m long and stunning red flowers from Sep-Dec tipped with orange pollen resemble a giant bottle brush. Slow growing – can take up to 7-10 years to reach flowering size. Keeping the roots restricted in a smaller pot promotes flowering. Do well in pots under the canopy of established trees or on a deck. Like to be in the warm sun but do best when protected from the hot afternoon sun. Require a planting mix with excellent drainage as very susceptible to phytophthora root rot (drench with Foscheck as a preventative). Frost tender. Feature. Evergreen. Height 50cm – 1m. NZ Native.
2 Phoenix roebellini Pygmy Date Palm Small palm with dark green, feathery fronds. With age develops a small trunk and can form multi-trunks. Easy care – needs little pruning, is resistant to pests, and is moderately drought tolerant. Well suited to coastal conditions. Good option in a pot for warm sheltered patios with light shade. Feature. Evergreen. Height 1.5m.
3 Buxus ‘Green Gem’ Green Gem Boxwood Hybrid Buxus cultivar (Buxus microphylla var. koreana x Buxus sempervirens) that is noted for its globular shape and excellent winter hardiness. Elliptic to oval, glossy leaves emerge light green and contrast well with older dark green leaves that hold their color well in winter. Naturally, rounded shape makes it great for topiary. Easy to grow in sun or part shade. Greater resistance to Buxus blight than English Box and faster growing. Feature. Topiary. Evergreen. Height 50cm – 1m.
4 Laurus nobilis Standard Bay Tree Glossy green, aromatic foliage is used as an edible herb. Small, fragrant yellow flowers in spring followed by small black fruit. Shape into a topiary by trimming in summer. Tolerant of coastal conditions. Requires a sunny site in fertile soil and enjoys moisture. Feature. Standard. Evergreen. Height 1-1.8m.
5 Rhopalostylis chathamica Chatham Island Nikau Dark green leaves with a contrasting silvery white petiole. It is robust with broader, more crowded leaflets and larger fruit than the straight sapida Nikau. Takes several years to start forming a trunk. Hardiest to frost and drought and amongst the fastest growing of the Nikau varieties and species. High tolerance for wind and coastal conditions. Feature. Evergreen. NZ Native. Height 2-4m.
6 Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ Purple Japanese Maple Rich-crimson spring leaves turn bronze-purple in summer and then go scarlet in autumn. Deep-purple stems. Multi-seasonal foliage colour.It makes a lovely accent piece in a small area. Prefers afternoon shade and filtered light. Avoid harsh weather, such as drying winds and afternoon sun (especially in hot areas and summer). Feature. Evergreen. Height 2-4m.
7 Strelitzia parvifolia Spoonbill Strelitzia Handsome shrub with deep green paddle-like leaves and brilliant orange & blue long lasting flowers appearing on long stems. Thrives in well drained soils & full sun. Protect from heavy frost. Sub-tropical effect in a glazed pot. Feature. Evergreen. Height 2m.
8 Cycas revoluta Sago Palm The thick shaggy trunk supports a crown of shiny dark green leaves. New fronds are produced twice a year and are soft when opening, but gradually harden into their permanent shape. Require a well-drained planting mix. Benefit from watering during summer but allow to dry out between watering’s. Shelter from frost. Feature. Evergreen. Height 50cm – 1m.
9 Trachelospermum jasminoides Chinese Jasmine Masses of beautifully scented white flowers on slender trailing or climbing stems. Amongst dark green foliage from early spring to mid-summer. Trim in late winter and again after flowering to maintain shape. Grows happily in sun or shade in most soil conditions. Water well over dry summer months.  Groundcover or Climber. Evergreen. Height 30cm (groundcover) 2m Climber.
10 Lomandra Lime Tuff Lomandra An Australian native ornamental grass, bred for its compact growth habit and lush lime-green foliage year-round. Grows to a compact mound with cream flowers in spring. Plant in full sun or part shade. Requires little water once established and looks great all year round. Very hardy as it tolerates both frost and dry conditions. Thrives in full sun or part shade. Feature. Evergreen. Height 60cm.
11 Ficus Tuffy Tuffy Fig Dense, bright emerald-green foliage that darkens with age. Neat, upright habit lends itself to trimming into shapes. Prefers a moist but well drained soil in sun or part shade. Frost tender when young. Fast growing. Feature. Standard. Topiary. Height 2m.
12 Michelia gracipes Michelia Glossy leathery dark green foliage. Brown furry buds open to masses of creamy white, heavily scented flowers in late winter and early spring. Semi-shade or full-sun as long the roots are kept cool and damp during the ‘hot’ summer months. Trim or prune after flowering. Tolerates frosty conditions. Feature. Evergreen. Slow Growing to 2m. Scented Flowers. Can form into a topiary of standard.
13 Soleirolia soleirolii Babies Tears Moss-like, the small leaves form a dense carpet of deep green. Best grown in damp, moist or wet position. Will tolerant some dryness and recovers quickly after watering. Tiny pinkish-white flowers in summer. Groundcover. Evergreen. Height 2-5cm.
14 Ophiopogon japonicus Mondo grass Very hardy evergreen clump-forming plant with fine dark green foliage offset by spikes of lilac flowers followed by blue-black berries. The dwarf form spreads to form a dense carpet of dark green foliage. Groundcover. Evergreen. Height 20-30cm (dwarf form 10cm)
15 Ligularia reniformis Tractor Seat Large, glossy and textured leaves in the shape of an old tractor seat make a bold statement in any pot. Spikes of yellow daisy flowers appear in early summer. Keep moist and apply slug bait in spring when new growth appears. Remove flowers and any damaged leaves to encourage new growth. Plants can be split after 2 years and planted in other pots. Feature. Evergreen. Height 50-75cm. 
16 Scleranthus biflorus Cushion Plant Groundcover forms small, spreading mounds of attractive green, moss-like ornamental foliage. Forms a carpet of interesting humps and hollows. Easy to grow but requires a sunny situation with a moist, well drained to dry soil. Performs best in an open area with good wind flow. Groundcover. Evergreen. Height 5cm. NZ Native.
17 Meryta sinclairii Puka Tropical-looking, glossy large green leaves 25cm-30cm long with prominent veining and wavy margins. Best grown in full sun in a sheltered spot away from wind. Frost tender. Will tolerate coastal conditions. Makes a dramatic feature plant in a large pot. Prune to contain size. Feature. Evergreen. Height 2-5m. NZ Native
18.  Astelia chathamica Kakaha The broad flax like leaves have a silvery sheen and can be up to 2m long, erect and drooping towards the ends. Orange berries borne from February-June are attractive to birds. Grow in sun or semi-shade. Tolerates coastal conditions. Protect from heavy frosts. Strong, architectural form in a pot. Feature. Evergreen. Height 1-1.5m. NZ Native
19.  Dypsis baronii Sugar Cane A clustering, multi-stemmed palm that can be grown outdoors in NZ. Admired for its prominently ringed multiple trunks. Full sun or shade but prefers some shade. Shelter from wind to keep the leaves from looking tatty. Indoors or outdoors. Feature. Evergreen. Height 2-4m.
20. Howea forsteriana Kentia Palm An evergreen, slender, clumping palm native to Lord Howe Island. The drooping fronds that reach up to 3m long will provide a wonderful, natural elegance to your outdoor area. Can be grown indoors or outdoors. Grown indoors out of direct sunlight or outdoors in a shady frost-free position. Will tolerate full sun but best in partial shade or filtered light. Fronds may burn in full sun when young. Will tolerate coastal or windy conditions when established. Old fronds can be removed when they get tatty or die back. The roots dislike disturbance so re-pot only once they are root-bound Feature. Evergreen. Height 3-5m.