Tubs, troughs and hanging baskets are classic summer containers, bringing easy-care and beautiful colour to patios, balconies and doorsteps.
The bigger the container, the better the display. On the patio, a few large containers make a more striking display than a lot of little ones, they’re less work, and the more compost the greater the nutrients. For summer use, any type of container is fine, but make sure it has plenty of drainage holes in the base.
It’s not essential to place drainage material in the base of a container that you’ll be planting with summer bedding.
Next add your compost. Use a peat-free, multipurpose or potting compost, roughly half-filling your container and mixing in some slow-release feed granules.
You could also add some water-retaining granules. To add these, reconstitute them into a thick paste, then stir into the compost to assist moisture retention in hot, dry weather. This is particularly helpful for hanging baskets.
Zonal and ivy-leaved pelargoniums, argyranthemum, verbena, scaevola, gazania and osteospermum do best in full sun. Choose fuchsias, petunias and New Guinea busy lizzies where there’s some shade. Peonies are the glamour girls of the early summer border.
Pick a colour scheme. Pastel shades of pink, lilac and purple are popular, but for something bolder, team red, orange and yellow. Or why not try green, cream and white, or blue, silver and grey, for a cooler look.
Choose plants with contrasting flower shapes and sizes.
Don’t economise on plants – buy enough to fill each container completely.
Water them all thoroughly the day before you intend planting them.
Leave the plants in their pots and stand them in position – that way you can swap them round without damaging the roots.
Position them so they all show up well. When planting a circular container, place the plant that will grow tallest in the centre as a focal point. In troughs, plant the tallest halfway along and use short, bushy plants immediately around them with low, trailing plants round the edges of the container.
When you’re happy with your arrangement, remove the pots.
Fill the gaps between plants with more compost, then spread a little more over the surface.
Then water well to settle the compost round the roots.