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How to make a spring alpine pot display

You will need

  • Aubretia 'Hamburger Stadtpark', 7cm pot x1
  • Armeria juniperifolia 'Alba', 7cm pot x1
  • Phlox douglasii 'Red Admiral', 7cm pot x1
  • Saxifraga 'Gleborg', 7cm pot x1
  • Sempervivum, 7cm pot x1
  • Terracotta: 40cm glazed half pot x1, 10cm pots x2, section land drain x1
  • John Innes No.1 compost, 25 litre bag
  • Horticultural grit, 20kg bag


After the intense cold of winter, the bright and cheerful flowers of alpines and rock garden plants introduce much-needed colour into our gardens. There is a huge range to choose from and, being used to extreme conditions, they're extremely hardy, despite their delicate appearance.

Perfect for placing on a patio, or by the back door, this easy-to-create container display is just the thing to lift your spirits. You could use the plants we've recommended, or make your own selection.

Plant it: March
At its best: spring
Takes just: 30 minutes

How to do it:

Placing terracotta over holes in pots


Good drainage is essential so all pots should have holes in the base. Cover these with broken terracotta or large stones.

Adding compost and horticultural grit to pot

Half fill the large pot with an equal parts mixture of John Innes No.1 compost and horticultural grit, and lightly firm in place.

Half filling pot with compost around carex plant

Position the terracotta drainage pipe and terracotta pots. Try to set the rims of the pots and pipe at different heights to add interest.

Filling containers with compost and grit mix

Part fill the smaller containers with the compost and grit mix, lightly firming it to ensure there are no air pockets.

Knocking out plants from their original pots

Carefully knock the plants out of their pots and tease the rootball apart to promote rooting into the new compost.

Planting alpines into individual pots

Plant one alpine in each small pot and also in the space between the pots, then fill with the compost and grit mixture.

Adding a mulch of horticultural grit to the pots

Add a mulch of horticultural grit to the surface of the compost around all of the plants, then water thoroughly.

Our tip

Among your selected plants, choose those that look good all year round, such as mossy saxifrages and sempervivums. You could opt for a mix of alpines, like we have, or plant a special collection of the same genus, such as saxifrage or alpine primulas

You may have suitable containers already, so don't limit yourself to those that we've chosen

Buy plants when they're in flower, to choose colours that suit your scheme

Discuss this pot & container

Talkback: How to make a spring alpine pot display
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Neil Young 24/11/2011 at 15:29

great advice