Some IOTA planters grace private gardens, but many are placed in public spaces to add a touch of class, divide space, or provide scale to large public areas. There are two primary considerations when selecting plants for containers in public spaces: safety and maintenance. Plants with large thorns, poisonous plants, and plants that drop a lot of leaves (which become slippery) are out of the question, in terms of safety. Plants that need constant watering (unless there’s a drip irrigation system available), drop a lot of leaves or fruit—or are otherwise messy—are unacceptable. Extremely fragile plants won’t make the cut, either, because they won’t withstand the beating they can take from small children and unruly teenagers yanking on them.
Plants to Avoid: Safety
- Agaves: These majestic plants are lovely, drought-tolerant, and easy to care for. They also look great in IOTA containers. However, unless you clip the large thorns off the ends of these plants, they pose a danger to pedestrians at eye-level with the tops of the leaves. Steer clear of these plants in public areas.
- Castor bean: The leaves of castor bean plants are excellent for taking up a lot of space, quickly, but these large herbaceous perennials are highly poisonous. Instead of the castor bean, try planting a hardy banana instead. They have similarly large leaves, and reddish coloring.
- Oleander: Another poisonous plant, oleander should only be used in areas that see little foot traffic. Dwarf oleander would be well-suited to planters situated on rooftops or large walls, where people can’t get to their leaves and twigs. Otherwise, go for another semi-evergreen shrub instead.
- Euphorbias: Some euphorbias are spiny, but all have poisonous milky sap. Unlike the oleander and castor bean plant, you don’t have to ingest parts of the euphorbia in order to feel the effects of the sap. If someone who isn’t wearing gloves breaks off a piece of the plants and the sap gets on their skin, they can instantly develop a rash.
Plants to Avoid: Mess
- Fruit trees: While fruit trees are lovely and produce a nice crop to harvest, they’re also messy for public spaces unless someone is planning to stay on a rather strict harvest schedule. This includes ornamental fruit trees that do produce fruit.
- Lilly Pilly: Allthough very hardy, the Lilly Pilly does produce fruits that can become messy and slippery when dropped on walkways.
- Canna Lilies: These enormous perennials have large flowers that become unsightly as they turn brown, and will drop off of the plant and stain the sidewalk.
Plants to Avoid: Fragility
The most fragile plant that is, unfortunately, used often in containers is the jade plant. This and other succulents are only fragile in the sense that their leaves are easy to break off. It isn’t recommended to use these plants where lots of young children can mess about with them. Save yourself from maintenance headaches by selecting plants that tolerate the sometimes harsh conditions of public areas. If you think there’s anything else one needs to consider when selecting plants, feel free to share them in the comments below. Also feel free to share this article to your friends.