There are two times of the year when planting trees out-of-doors is just not the best idea: mid-winter, and mid-summer. But that does not mean that tree lovers have to do without their favorite plants. Thanks to lightweight, moldable, designer GRC (glass reinforced concrete) planters and pots just about any time of year is a good time to start young trees.
There are many different ways you can define ‘designer tree’, but one of the best ways is to say that while any tree can be a jewel in your landscaping plan, some are particularly special or have exceptional features that make them the darling of landscapers, architects, and even interior designers. Some trees can be planted both indoors and out. They can be made into bonsai, making them a unique interior decoration, or they can be started indoors and allowed to grow until a suitable outdoor location and temperature is available.
Here are some examples of delightful designer trees and plants:
- Olive Trees (oleo europaea). One of the first trees known to have been cultivated by humans, olive trees can be made into exquisite bonsai. Their small leaves and naturally gnarled trunks are especially suited to the purpose. On the other hand, they will grow in almost any place where winters are cool but mild, and summers are hot and dry. They make excellent shade trees and might grow fruit that can be pressed for oil, pickled, stuffed, preserved in brine or otherwise generally used to improve meals of all sorts.
- Dragon Tree (dracaena draco). Originally a native of the Canary Islands, dragon trees are prized for their unique shape and for their ruby red sap. Slow growing, they make charming house plants that can be neglected nearly to death and still come back with strong growth. In fact, one of the surest ways to kill a dragon tree is to over-water it or to fertilize it at the wrong time. Dust it off now and then, give it a good soaking, watering when the soil in its pot has gotten nearly completely dry, and it will be a happy little dragon in the corner of your living room.
- Golden Barrel Cactus (echinocactus grusonii) Although endangered in their native area in Mexico, there is no danger of these chubby, spiky little succulents dying out because they are so popular as house plants. They have strong, green ribs that plump out when they are at their optimum water content. Each rib is decorated with yellow spikes that give the round plants a golden haze. They have a circular crown on their tops. In season, they will have colourful blooms.
- Queensland Bottle Trees (brachychiton rupestris): With their unique wine bottle trunk, there is no doubt that these are attractive trees. They can be cleverly coaxed into being bonsai, but their more common use is as an architectural tree in a large landscape. They grow slowly, so if you start one in a pot, you can keep it for several years before it will need to be planted out.
One of the best ways to set off a designer tree is to plant it in a designer pot. GRC (glass reinforced concrete) is an excellent choice when selecting a large container for a large plant. GRC can be moulded into a variety of shapes, which means that you can have a planter with a classic shape without the classic weight that goes with marble, concrete, or terra cotta.
GRC does have one small drawback. Like plastic, it does not breathe as well as clay, terra cotta, or wooden plant containers. This means that when you put a plant in it, you need to be certain that it has adequate drain holes, and that there is an aerating medium in the bottom of the pot to make sure that the soil will drain well. Succulents, yuccas, agaves, and similar plants do not do well in pots that have water puddling in the bottom.
On the other hand, soil in these pots will be slower to dry out perhaps making times between watering a little farther apart. They are not only lighter to move, but also much more durable than clay or terracotta pots, and far more ecological than plastic.
You Can Have Trees, No Matter the Season
With the right container, you can have trees, no matter the season. Snow outside? No problem. You can have a nice green tree inside your house. As long as you have good temperature control, and perhaps a grow light or two, you can enjoy the freshness of lovely plants all year long.