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Spiky Centerpiece

Spiky Centerpiece

By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Container Gardens
Photographs by Pamela Crawford

This arrangement requires nothing but water after it is planted. And the design is foolproof: Put a spiky plant in the middle and surround it with smaller plants. However, it misses a blue ribbon because the container is too small to last for the time period required (six months). It would last much longer in a container that has a diameter of at least 14” instead of the 11” pot in the picture. As shown, these plants stay happy in a small container for three to four months.

Many people mistake this ti plant for a dracaena because dracaenas have similar leaves. However, there are many different ti plants, even though most of them have wider leaves. Ti plants don’t drop as much as dracaenas do.

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The Plants

‘Florida Sweetheart’ caladium: two plants from 4.5” pots.

Ti plant: one plant from a one-gallon pot.

Dragon wing begonia: one plant from a 4.5” pot.

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Cultural Information

Light: Light to medium shade.

Season: The warmest months. Caladiums need temperatures over 65 degrees F to do well. This arrangement can take a lot of heat, thriving in temperatures that range from 65 to over 100 degrees F.

Lifespan: The arrangement lasts about three to four months in this container. The ti plant (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10-11) can then be transplanted to the garden or into another pot and overwintered indoors.

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Care: Fertilize on planting day with a slow-release mix. Repeat if the leaves look yellowish or washed-out. No trimming is necessary. Easy!

Water: Water thoroughly when the plants show signs of wilt, or the soil feels dry when you push your fingertip into the potting mix. I watered this one every day in midsummer and every other day in cooler weather. This plant mix would require less water if planted in a larger container.

Troubleshooting: No problems. This was a wonderful, trouble-free arrangement. Caladiums are poisonous, however, if eaten.

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Planting plan: A ti plant is placed in the center, touching the back. A dragon wing begonia is planted in the center of the front, with one caladium on either side. I angled all the edge plants out slightly and soaked the root balls in water, so I could squeeze them to reduce their size prior to planting. Be sure to plant in good-quality potting mix, not garden soil, top soil, or potting soil, which can kill the plants.

Note: Be sure to plant dwarf caladiums instead of larger ones in an arrangement such as this, so they don’t outgrow the centerpiece.

This is an excerpt from Pamela Crawford’s book, Easy Container Gardens, available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

Pamela Crawford, author of 12 gardening books, is considered one of the most accomplished container gardening experts in the country. In addition to designing gardens for over 1500 residences, her work has been featured on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens publications as well as in Southern Living, HGTV Magazine, Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, and in over 300 newspapers. As an expert in her field, she has appeared on the Fine Living Network, GardenSMART,, and numerous local tv shows.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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