I find it wonderful to be able to grow plants in a pot because I have limited space in the apartment. I was curious to know if a large plant like gunnera could be grown successfully in a pot. If that’s your goal, you will find my research useful.
Gunnera can be grown in a pot but it should be a large pot if you plan to grow it for several years. The soil used in the pot must be rich and fertile. You need to always keep the gunnera’s roots moist. But you need to take care not to overwater the roots.
My research has a lot more information that will help you consider growing gunnera in a pot near your house. Keep reading to learn more about this.
What Is Gunnera?
Gunnera is a large perennial plant that is native to South America in Brazil. This plant has 45+ different species, with the most familiar being the gunnera manicata.
The plant is sometimes nicknamed “Dinosaur Food” and for a good reason. It has the potential of growing to 8ft tall or more if allowed, and its leaves can be as wide as 4ft.
Gunnera plants love the sun and water. They’ll mostly be found in very wet areas where other plants’ roots tend to drown or rot from the amount of water.
How To Grow Gunnera In A Pot
Since these plants are so large, it might seem like putting them in a pot is a bad idea. However, that isn’t the case.
You can undoubtedly grow gunnera in a pot, but some things need to be taken care of. They have a particular environment that you’ll need to recreate for the plant to survive in the pot.
Starting From Seeds Takes Time
Seedlings of the gunnera plant could take a long time for germination. It can take anywhere from 14 to 90 days to germinate, so patience is key.
You’ll want to place your dry gunnera seeds in a moist layer of coffee filters or paper towels.
Place them inside a plastic ziplock bag, and seal it. Keep the bag in direct sunlight (or under a 60W light bulb when there’s no sun). Do this until the seeds have germinated, and don’t let them dry out.
Select a Big Enough Pot
As mentioned earlier, gunnera plants can get huge when planted. This means you’ll need to select a large enough pot to keep your plant in. Now, they do prefer having their roots free, and this does contribute to their overall size.
Keeping gunnera in a pot will prevent them from growing to their fullest size. It’ll also keep the leaves at varying sizes. So, this could be beneficial to you if your overall space for this plant is limited.
Plant Gunnera with Very Rich Soil
The soil needed to grow gunnera in general needs to be rich and moist at all times. The soil should be extremely fertile, and it’s vital that it remains moist. Dried out soil will kill the plant.
I would recommend using good potting soil that is mixed with compost in a 50:50 ratio. You can also use garden soil but only if that is compost heavy or humus-rich. You’ll want to make sure the soil doesn’t get soggy. Even though gunnera likes water, making the soil soggy will hurt the plant.
The ideal pH for your soil is going to be somewhere between 6.1 and 6.5. You also want to make sure that any fertilizer you use is meant for containers. If you don’t, you risk burning the leaves.
Keep the Roots Moist
It’s very important that the roots of the gunnera plant remain moist at all times. Gunnera loves boggy environments where most other plants’ roots would end up rotting.
Despite their love of water, they can’t be left in it, or their roots will succumb to rotting as well. It’s suggested that you keep a wide water collection dish beneath your pot. This dish should always contain water.
As long as the environment remains moist at all times, you won’t have to water your gunnera that frequently. However, it’s very important to remember that the soil should never be allowed to dry out.
Give It Plenty of Sunlight
Gunnera plants thrive in full sun or partial shade. That said, these plants don’t tolerate hot or dry climates. If you live in an area like that, keeping the plant in a partially sunny area is probably your best bet. Just make sure to keep the soil moist!
In the cooler weather and winter, your gunnera will prefer more shade. It’s believed that gunnera that spends more time in the shade will have bigger leaves. So, that is something to keep in mind when picking the best placement for your plant.
Feed Your Gunnera Often
Gunnera is a heavy feeder, so you want to make sure you’re giving your plant plenty of fertilizer and compost to keep it fed.
When first starting, you’ll want to make sure there is fertilizer in the soil you use. Mix in some compost and organic materials as well. You’ll want to feed your gunnera twice during the season to make sure it gets enough food.
How To Maintain The Potted Gunnera Plant
Now that you know the proper care for a potted gunnera plant, here are a few other things to keep in mind.
Gunnera comes from a more humid environment and can’t handle freezing temperatures. In winter, the most important thing to protect your gunnera plant is the crown. You’ll also want to reduce the frequency that you water your plant.
When the weather starts getting cooler, the leaves will wilt and die. You can use this to prepare your gunnera for winter. Clip the leaves off as short as possible, close to the crown of the plant. Once you’ve clipped the leaves, cover the crown with them. This will keep it insulated and safe during colder, dryer weather.
Rehoming the Plant to a Bigger Environment
Even though growing gunnera in a pot is possible, you may want to consider rehoming it into a wider environment. Sometimes keeping a big plant in a pot or container is harder to maintain, and rehoming the plant into a bigger space can help with the maintenance.
If you have a space in your yard that has a lot of runs off from a deck or other structure, you could consider planting your gunnera plant there. They also do very well when planted near a pond or a stream.
Bog gardens are ideal environments for gunnera plants. You may be wondering if you can accomplish a bog garden for potted plants. The answer is yes!
It isn’t difficult to create a container bog garden. You’ll need a large container — some use whiskey barrels, while others have used kiddie pools. Once you’ve chosen your container, you’ll want to fill ⅓ of it with gravel, and then cover that with a 30/70% mixture of sand and peat moss.
Next, wet the garden completely. Let it sit for a week while keeping it wet the entire time. Once you plant your gunnera in the bog garden, you’ll want to keep your garden wet as well as keep it in a place that will get at least 5 hours of sunlight per day.
Definitely Not Edible!
Even though this is considered a giant rhubarb, the leaves and crown of the gunnera plant are not edible. Although they aren’t poisonous for humans, they’re dangerous to consume. Their stiff stems and leaf blades have sharp bristles that will scratch the skin.
These are meant to look nice in your garden, and it’s highly recommended that you don’t eat parts of a gunnera plant.
Gunnera is an interesting plant that will make a statement in any garden you find it in. Though it can take a little extra care and devotion, it’s quite possible to grow gunnera in a pot. Just make sure you keep it moist.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.