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Grow a habitat shrub in a pot

ReWild Action: Grow a habitat shrub in a pot

Suitable for Pots Gardening Guides Suitable for pots

Potted Shrubs

Potted shrubs are a great visual feature when you're working in a confined space such as a paved courtyard or a balcony.

Potted shrubs don't provide the same habitat value as those in the ground, which are directly engaged in a broader ecological interactions.

As with all potted plants, potting requires some additional care with feeding and ensuring the nutrients in the potting mix don't get depleted.

The Colour and the Shape

The use of native shrubs in pots is popular in landscape design and can be integrated into many garden styles. The diversity of choice can match any style.

Native plants in pots do require more TLC than those planted in a garden.

Supplementary water and occasional light feeding are well worth the return in colourful flowers, interesting foliage, and eye-catching forms.


Theoretically, you can grow just about any plant in a pot, if the pot is big enough and you’re prepared to do the work required to keep the soil healthy.

Many of our shrubs will perform well in a pot, provided with adequate volume for their root system.

The shrubs recommended for this action will require a large pot with a capacity up to 75 litres. Typically, the smaller the shrub, the more forgiving you can be with size.

Habitat Value: Level 2

Food and Shelter

The ReWild scoring system only measures your impact with the resources available to your site; people with tiny gardens or balconies can still earn a high ReWild score without planting trees or shrubs.

The Level 2 habitat value reflects the provision of some shelter and possibly food to wildlife, including mammals, birds, insects and pollinators.

Most shrubs are particularly useful in offering shelter from weather and predators, due to spreading branches and foliage from the ground up.

It is important that you include any existing shrubs (particularly natives) in your initial ReWild site survey.


Planting Guide – A Little More T.L.C.

Growing native plants in pots is a rewarding experience and can bring nature home to even the smallest garden, courtyard, or balcony. The only catch, potted plants need a little more attention than their garden cousins.

Ideal growing conditions are detailed on each profile page – check out Rough Honey-myrtle for example.

Here are tips in keeping native shrubs happy in pots.

Size matters.

Make sure to choose the right pot for the right shrub. Typically, our recommended species will do well in pots larger than 75L. The bigger, the better.

Fortunately, the smaller the shrub, the more forgiving you can be with size. A pot that is too small will restrict plant growth over time and result in a sick or dying plant. Root growth can also crack undersized pots.

Check with the nursery about plant and pot selection.

Avoid wet feet.

Our native shrubs have adapted well to dry conditions and excess soil moisture can result in root rot and encourage other pests and disease.

Good drainage is critical to a healthy potted shrub.

The pot should have clear drainage holes and a 10cm layer of free-draining gravel at the base of the pot (underneath the potting mix) to ensure the pot is free-draining.

Pot feet can also assist with healthy drainage.

We recommend a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for native plants.

Avoid completely drying out.

In nature, our native plants have impressive root systems to access underground water during times of drought.

Potted shrubs do not have such luxury and require regular watering to avoid drying out.

Water potted plants deeply once a week during dry weather, or if under cover. During hot and dry conditions, you may need to water every second or third day.

Return nutrients to soils.

Plants in pots are isolated from natural nutrient cycling and require annual or 6-monthly application of slow-release fertiliser.

A fortnightly application of seaweed solution can be beneficial in periods of growth or flowering.

Always use fertilisers recommended for native plants.

Banksias and other natives do not tolerate excess nutrients and can result in death or disease.

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