Container Gardening: From Bonsai to the Office Tree

Almost any tree or plant can be an indoor plant. Growing them is just a matter of planning for your plants, thinking about the space you have available, and perhaps adding a table, stand, or some extra lighting. Selecting the right container is important, too, along with considering what you want your plant to do.

Plants have a special place in interior decorating, whether you are learning to sculpt a bonsai or you need something eye-catching and vibrant for that empty place in the front hall, or an accent for an area around a fountain, beneath a skylight, or in that massive mezzanine reception hall. The key is to find the right plant, the right container, and to educate yourself about the needs of the plant that you are incorporating into your décor.



The Egyptians are credited with creating and using some of the earliest containers for gardening. Pots helped them to be able to move plants about in pursuit of water. As you probably know if you have read about Ancient Egypt, the seasons of the Nile and the availability of water was a major consideration for both upper and lower Egypt. Container growing also made it possible to grow vegetables and small fruits under glass in the northern regions, enabling wider variety in diet.

It was not until the 1800s, however, that plants were used as part of interior decorating. Possibly this was partly due to better heating systems as well as better window glazing, but it might also have been thanks to artisans such as Josiah Wedgewood, who systematically improved European pottery through a series of experiments.

Modern indoor gardeners now have access to GRC (glass reinforced concrete) planter pots. These pots have the happy properties of plasticity which allows them to be molded into almost any shape, along with being lightweight and durable.

If you are growing large plants, such as dragon trees, aloe vera trees or even agave plants, having a pot that is tough enough to hold up to growing plants yet is sufficiently lightweight enough to move around, is a real advantage.


Bonsai and Small Nosegay Plants

Although from distinctly different cultures, growing tiny trees or tabletop plants such as African violets require appropriately sized pots.

Bonsai usually needs a wide, shallow pot. The process of miniaturizing seedling trees so that they almost look as if they are mature trees in miniature involves gentle turning, judicious fertilizing, and careful watering to shape the tree.

Nosegay plants, such as violets or lavender, might have been grown in ceramic pots of the sort designed by Josian Wedgewood. Nosegays, just in case you are not familiar with the term, was a small, aromatic bouquet that could be carried or pinned to a bodice or lapel. Certain blossoms and herbs were thought to help ward off illness when carried. While they might not have done that, they certainly might have helped filter the scents of 19th century London, and similar cities.

While ceramic or terracotta pots have different properties from GRC containers, GRC stands out for its durability and for being a pot that is lightweight and easy to handle.

Potting soil and water are certainly heavy enough to move about, without adding the weight of a clay pot!


Large plants and Small Trees

Gardening indoors requires a variety of soil depths, types, and widths. Some plants need a place to spread their runners wide, while others need a deep soil that allows tap roots to plunge in deep. Some plants need to have both depth and width for good health. In all cases, a potted plant has access only to the nutrients and water given it by the gardener. By way of contrast, outdoor plants can sneak their roots into other areas to sneak samples from spaces not in their designated bed.


Benefits of Plants Indoors

Although the idea that growing plants indoors can cleanse and refresh the air has been somewhat debunked (you would need to grow a huge number of plants), there is still something uplifting about plants in an office, reception area, or home.

The long, snaky stems of a dragon tree plant, or the fleshy leaves of an aloe barberea, or even the cute chubbiness of a golden ball cactus gives people something to do besides worry about up-coming appointments. There is something about a living tree or plant that uplifts the spirit and reminds viewers that somehow the world keeps turning in spite of myriad changes.


Combining Beauty

Place a glauca grass tree in a beautiful GRC pot molded into a traditional shape, and you have a prize-winning combination. You can place the slow-growing tree in a large pot that reflects the origins of the plant for a conversation piece that can brighten up an office or take its summertime place in your formal (or informal) garden.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top