Go With The Flow

By Teo Spengler | April 20, 2021
by Teo Spengler
April 20, 2021

One of my many mottos, when it comes to gardening, is “go with the flow.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean when you might think. It’s always a good idea to be flexible and adaptable, but I use this motto to remind me to select plants that cascade and flow.

Yup, my “go with the flow” motto means that I like plants with foliage that tumbles from pots. That makes my container style hanging. 

Foliage that Tumbles

The term “container style” could mean the substance a plant pot is made from, like clay or plastic or wood. However, I prefer to think of it in more general terms: What style pleases you when it comes to container plants?

For me, that is a much easier question to answer because, given the choice of plants and containers, I really do go with the flow. Indoors I have philodendrons, spider plants, pothos. Outside I have trailing nasturtium, ivy, cascading jasmine. Something about seeing the long tendrils stirring in the breeze moves me every time.

Everybody Weeps Sometimes

While some plant species are famous for cascading, the truth is, almost everybody weeps sometime. That is, most popular plants have a weeping cultivar. You just have to take the time to look for it. 

For example, in my neighborhood in San Francisco, succulents are popular. That is because the western chunk of the city was built on sand dunes. Succulents are often desert plants, evolved to grow on less-than-fertile soil. They survive the long, hot summers by storing water in their thick leaves and stems.

While many succulents are upright – think of the jade plant or aloe vera – you can find a ton of trailing succulents as well. For example, there is burro’s tail (Sedum morganianum), string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) and string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii.) 

My Favorite Foliage

It’s a little like kids – a gardener is not supposed to have a favorite container plant. But I do and I’m willing to admit it. My very favorite hanging basket plant is purple shamrock (Oxalis triangularis). 

Purple shamrock is just an exceptional plant, with its mottled, triangular leaves cascading down in amazing shades of green and purple. The leaves close up at night, then open again the next morning. The plant grows from tubers, and produces pretty, tube-shaped pink flowers in summer. Mine has been with me for almost a decade.

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