In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
June, 2013
Regional Report

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The rusty red color of this container echoes and enhances the bronze and red tones of the foliage of Aloe vanbalenii.

Matching Plants with Containers

Does a plant ever grab your eye at the nursery and you just have to take it home? Then, what to do with it? As an impulse buy, you may end up puzzling how to use it to best advantage. One possibility is to play up its features by matching it with a well-chosen container. Here are some suggestions for showcasing plants by selecting containers that enhance their features.

Consider Color
What first attracted you to the plant? Often times, it's color. It might be flower color, but here in the Southwest, with all the interesting cacti and other succulents available, it is just as likely to be foliage color. Some great combinations play off spine or barbed teeth colors on cacti or aloe.

Choose a pot that sets off the color that captured your interest. The container may be a similar shade, which harmoniously enhances the intensity of the plant's color. For example, Aloe vanbalenii turns a rusty shade in cool temperatures. This unusual foliage color is intensified by a rust-colored container.

The Hunt for the Perfect Container
Contrasting plant and container colors add energy to the overall effect and can be used to brighten up an area. Use two of the primary colors (red, yellow, or blue) or two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel (red/green, orange/blue or yellow/purple). For example, golden barrel cactus in a midnight blue saucer bowl can add zing to an otherwise dull corner of a patio.

Also consider how container shape and style influence the "look." A tall, narrow container provides a contemporary feel and allows the sharply toothed edges of an aloe to drape naturally out of the way. A low, round container enhances the circular symmetry of many succulents, such as hens and chicks or rosette-shaped agaves.

Be on the lookout for containers that will enhance plant features. Stockpile a few in your potting area so that you will be ready next time you bring home an impulse plant! Rather than losing interesting plants among other plants in the garden, you'll be set to create an artistic focal point.

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