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Iris, ivy and fern pot display

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is not at its best in June

Plant is not at its best in July

Plant is not at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do not To do in December

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
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Total time:

Step 1

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.

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Step 2

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

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Step 3

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.

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Step 4

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.

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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.

Kevin Smith