London (change)

Holly and skimmia Christmas pot display

You will need

  • 1 x holly, Ilex aquifolium
  • 3 x Stipa tenuissima 'Pony Tails'
  • 3 x Skimmia japonica
  • 30cm terracotta pot
  • Crocks or polystyrene for drainage
  • John Innes No.3 potting compost
  • 1 x controlled-release fertiliser tablet
  • Noma 120 red outdoor static berry lights


If you like rustic charm and relaxed, informal planting, this pot display is for you. With a traditional holly bush at the centre, and red berry lights for a little sparkle, you couldn't wish for a more festive container recipe. You should find all these plants at your local nursery and it's possible to plant the skimmias and stipas in the garden when they outgrow the display.

Put safety first: be sure to buy lights that are safe for outdoor use, which usually means they'll have a transformer between the plug the first light of the string. The transformer converts the electricity to a lower voltage suitable for use outside, and must be positioned indoors. The wire on the 'outdoor' side of the transformer will be thin enough to pass through a window or door for a limited period, while still allowing it to close. Don't plug into outdoor sockets if the transformer will be exposed.

Plant it: December
At its best: Winter
Takes just: an hour

How to do it:


Add crocks to the pot, half fill with compost and pop in a slow-release fertiliser tablet.


Position the holly in the centre of the pot, making sure it is straight, and add more compost.


If the stipas are a little large make extra, smaller plants by dividing them with a sharp knife.


Plant the stipas around the edge of the container ensuring they are evenly spaced apart.


Add the skimmias between the stipas, backfill with more compost and water thoroughly.


Twine the lights through the holly and safely connect them to your power source.

Our tip

Keep plants in good health by ensuring compost doesn't dry out in winter winds.

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