Growing Cleyera in Pots

Cleyera is a very dependable broadleaf evergreen that looks as good in containers as it does planted directly in the garden. Because Cleyera is so slow growing, even the larger growing varieties can be grown successfully in a large planter for 3-5 years. Use Cleyera as a replacement for boxwood either as a single specimen in a pot or as the focal point for a mixed seasonal container. Adding Cleyera to container gardens on a patio or deck will give them an instant upgrade, as these shrubs always look at their best with little maintenance. Cleyera tolerates and even thrives in full shade, making it a great choice for a covered entrance of your home. 


Planting Cleyera in Pots

Cleyera can be planted year-round but will establish faster in the spring when the period of active growth begins. Spring is still a relatively cooler season, even in the upper growing zones, and the soil will stay moist longer. Ensure that the container you use has excellent drainage in the bottom and will be heavy enough to counteract any top-heavy growth. Resin, fiberglass, and plastic pots will tolerate extremes in temperature and rarely crack, chip or split over many years of use. Terra cotta pots may be more appropriate for use in areas with extremely hot summers and mild winters where freezes are rare. The porous nature of clay also allows for more air circulation and will aid in drainage for gardening areas that have high humidity in the summer.

Best Soil For Cleyera  in Pots

Potting soils marketed for acid-loving plants are available, although many of them rely on peat moss, a non-sustainable material, to keep the soil moist and acidic (5.5 - 6.5 pH). All-purpose, peat-free potting mixes are usually just below neutral on the pH scale and are easily amended with fertilizers for acid-loving plants. A layer of pine straw or organic compost can also be used over the soil to help retain moisture longer and add nutrients to the soil at each watering. Cleyera will need a pot that has at least a 16-inch diameter and a 7-gallon capacity. The amount of potting soil that is needed to fill this size container may seem like a lot, but the root system will need the full depth to continue growing for three or more years. 

Caring For Cleyera in Planters

Shrubs that are grown in containers may need a little extra care when it comes to watering and feeding. Due to the finite amount of soil in a pot, the plants rely completely on a gardener to receive the right amount of nutrients and water. Potted plants are more exposed to the elements and will need to be protected during inclement weather.

Watering Cleyera in Pots

Larger containers can retain moisture longer than small pots and are better for planting Cleyera. The potting mix should be allowed to dry slightly in between watering sessions, so that the top 2-3 inches of soil feel dry to the touch. Make sure that containers are not situated where they will be subjected to runoff from a roof or other structure during natural rains. Heavy rains can wash away potting soil and cause damage to the root system. Pots placed in shady spots will remain moist longer and should always be monitored by touch, not by how dry the soil looks.

Fertilizing Cleyera in Pots

Granular, slow-release fertilizers can be used in containers the same way they are used in a garden bed. Apply once in the spring as new growth is emerging. Spread the fertilizer on the surface of the potting mix and gently scratch it into the top layer. At each watering, nutrients will be washed into the soil. A monthly feeding will replace macro and micronutrients that are leached from the soil from regular watering. 

Winter Care For Cleyera in Pots

Containers that are used for growing outdoors over the winter may need an extra layer of insulation in USDA zones 7-8. The roots in containers have far less insulation than when growing in the ground and may need extra care during cold snaps or snow. Wrapping large planters in multiple layers of burlap or horticultural fabric will do the job fine. Moving smaller containers out of the path of prevailing winds and winter storms will ensure that winter damage stays at a minimum. Gardeners in the warmer growing zones will need to continue watering Cleyera through the winter. Water regularly when the temperature remains above 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The potting mix can be allowed to dry a bit more during cooler temperatures, but the shrubs will need consistent moisture. 

Growing Cleyera Indoors

Cleyera is not normally grown indoors. Smaller pots of new plants or cuttings can be grown in a frost-free location such as an unheated greenhouse or a cool basement with grow lights. The plants will appreciate much cooler temperatures during the winter months, typically between 50-55 degrees F with moderate humidity around 40%. The average “room temperature” of a house is much warmer and drier, making infestation from spider mites indoors much more likely.

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 Author Robbin Small - Published 4-26-2023