Iris, ivy and fern pot display

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Oct, Nov

Takes just:

30 minutes

At its best:


The sweet-smelling irises should be in flower by late-winter if the weather is mild. Before then, you can enjoy the foliage combination of the needle-like iris, the filigree ivy and the crimped fern. If you plant up this container feature in autumn you can use iris bulbs; if you wait until spring, simply buy pots of iris.

You will need

  • Iris 'Pauline' bulbs x12 or iris plants x3
  • Hart's tongue fern, e.g. Asplenium scolopendrium 'Angustifolia' x3
  • Bird's foot ivy, e.g. Hedera helix 'Tripod' x3
  • Zinc trough
  • Drill
  • Crocks
  • Gravel or grit


Drill a drainage hole in each corner of the trough. Cover the base with crocks followed by a thick layer of gravel or grit, then fill it two-thirds with compost.

Remove the ferns from their pots and tease out the roots. Position them in the trough, making sure they're evenly spaced.

Plant the bulbs in four groups dotted between the ferns. If you're using pots of iris, knock them out of their pots and tease out the roots before planting them.

Plant the ivy along the front edge of the trough. Top up with compost, firming it around the plants with your fingers. Stand the trough on the patio or on a windowsill in full sun or light shade.


Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith says...

Use a contemporary metal container to create an urban look with a bit of edge. Line the pot with bubble wrap if you’re positioning it in a hot spot – this will prevent the plants’ roots becoming damaged by hot metal.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

Related content

Hosta pot display

Herb pot for fish dishes

Daffodil and primula pot display

Related offers


Subscriber only content

100 free* spring bulbs

Subscribers can claim 100 beautiful spring bulbs, including Chionodoxa, Muscari, Iris and tulip (worth £22) for free - *just pay £5.65 for postage.

Unlock now


Subscriber only content

60 free* narcissus bulbs

Claim 60 narcissus bulbs (worth over £20) free, *just pay £5.65 for postage. Add the Dwarf Narcissus Collection to your basket and enter code at checkout to claim your discount.

Unlock now


Subscriber only content

Save £10 on cyclamen

Hardy cyclamen grow well under trees and in shady borders, flowering throughout winter every year. Save £10 with this pack of six potted hardy Cyclamen hederifolium plants, including three each of pink and white, for just £19.99 (normally £29.99).

Unlock now