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Iris, ivy and fern pot display

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


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.

Plant it: October - November or January - February
At its best: February
Takes just: 30 minutes

How to do it:


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.

Our tip

Extend your display once the ivies are over with pots of 'Tête-à-tête' daffodils, followed in late-spring by dwarf tulips.

Large ivy plants are usually made up of several small cuttings in one pot, which make them good value. Simply tease the roots apart to give you several plants.

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