Are your favourite alpines lost on the rockery? Put them in containers, says Kris
Pot options and soil mixes
Alpines look best displayed in natural stone containers (above). You can make your own natural looking planters by coating plastic pots and troughs in hypertufa ( a mix of cement and compost) but this is a messy, involved process and I recommend investing in a quality stone product rather than going down the DIY route. Hollowed logs make good rustic displays, and for a modern look try a sleek slate container.
When it comes to composts, opt for a fertile, free- draining medium. For best results use a 50:50 mix of John Innes No3 and sand/grit (inset)
Planting up an alpine container
1) Place plenty of drainage material in the base of the container – crocks or chopped up pieces of polystyrene are ideal. Use a John Innes No3 soil-based compost, but it should have plenty of grit or sand added to keep it open and free-draining.
2) Half fill the trough and site your chosen alpines. Scoop the compost around them and gently firm them in. They should not be set deeper than they were in their pots. Check ultimate plant heights: the tallest ones should go in the centre or back of the container.
3) Water the plants to settle them in, then spread a thin layer of grit or gravel on the compost, this sets off the appearance, and reduces weed problems.
Choose the colour of the stone so that it looks ‘in keeping’ with your chosen container.