Get yourself a concentrated piece of the Mediterranean Sea on your terrace by growing your plants in pots. With the right mix of flowers, edible plants and green spices, it is easy and wonderful to enjoy the delights of the South even up here in the North!
Since forever, we humans have always liked to surround ourselves with exotic plants, and now they’re easier to obtain than ever before. The flowers that create the Mediterranean atmosphere are oftentimes ones we already have in our gardens - like Geranium, Heliotrope and Hetunia. Choose plants with fragrant leaves or striking colors for the right mood. Then add the slightly more exotic, such as Bougainvillea, Gloriosa or Passion Flower.
Chocolate flower and Scented lily are tuberous plants that start growing in spring, like Dahlias. Both are beautiful and have a seductive smell. If you have a bright and frost-free space during winter, treat yourself to a Nerium or African Blue Lily; two magnificent plants of typical Mediterranean character, but ones that need to pass the winter in cool air.
“Terracotta pots, baskets, buckets, cans... mix neat and simple vessels to give the right Mediterranean feel”
Agave, Aloe, Houseleek and various other succulents are also part of creating a Mediterranean flair. They are easy to care for because they can withstand sun and dryness well. Agave is a sculptural plant that fits magnificently in a pot while the others are fine when bunched together like little still lifes.
Flavors and scents are an important element to bring the whole package together. Revel in spice plants, which thrive excellently in pots, and place them near your favorite chair. Rubbing the leaves together on rosemary, lavender and sage as well as odd herbs such as pineapple salvia and blackcurrant salvia, releasing their respective fragrances… it never gets old.
If you have space inside for it, a small olive tree is always fun, as well as a fig or citrus plant in a pot. Today they are easy to get hold of and often affordable, but it can still feel like a waste to buy them if you do not know in advance where they will be kept during winter.
Reinforce with pots
Terracotta pots have a self-evident use, but around the Mediterranean people are just as likely to use any old vessel; that is, baskets, buckets and cans. The mix of neat and simple gives the right Mediterranean feel. Find bargains at your local flea market!
The more, the merrier
Bunch your Mediterranean plants on the same terrace or balcony. This makes the effect more pronounced. Choose a place with plenty of sun and heat, preferably next to a sun-drenched wall. In the semi-shady corners, place your myrtle, pallet blade, ivy and peppermint geranium.
The Mediterranean in your sunroom
Greenhouses and sunrooms are perfect places to indulge in the Mediterranean atmosphere, not least because the heat stays behind the glass panes. During the high summer, mainly succulents and geraniums can withstand extreme heat in this environment. But, still, make sure to air out space on those especially hot days! Spring and Autumn are times when you can bring your other Mediterranean plants into the sunroom.
Advice for care
Most Mediterranean plants are resistant to drought, but you still have to water and fertilize frequently, perhaps every day when summer peaks. A small pot dries up quickly! Keep in mind that even sun-lovers may need to be protected against the strong spring sun, especially when they have just left behind the winter weather in May-June. Please cover them in some non-woven fabric and let them acclimate slowly. Move the plants indoors when there’s a chance of frost.
Surviving the winter for the potted plants
Group 1: Figs, peaches, olives, mulberries, grapes, African blue lily, laurels, lavender, thyme, Blackcurrant salvia, Pineapple salvia. Preferably lots of light and frost-free, ie with full daylight (or fluorescent lighting) at a temperature between 2 and 10 degrees Celsius.
Group 2: Chocolate flower, Murielae, Gloriosa and Dahlia. Remove the pots after the first frost and store the tubers loosely or in the pot, in dark, cool, and frost-free surroundings. Take them out again in March-April and replant them in new soil.
Group 3: Myrtle, Passionflower, Bougainvillea, Agave, Citrus, Geranium, Hibiscus, Nerium, and succulents are best placed in a bright spot with a temperature of between 10 and 15 degrees, but can also make do at room temperature if they are regularly supervised. Keep the soil only slightly moist, do not fertilize it, and fight any vermin as soon as they appear.