Bursts colour ofpotted
ALL GARDENERS, from the flat-dweller with a small balcony to the owner of a large garden, enjoy gardening in containers, probably because this is one of the easiest and most waterwise ways to achieve an abundance of colour in a small space.
Containers on the patio will add a cheerful note to festive season outdoor entertaining, while a burst of colour at the front door provides a warm welcome.
The secret to great-looking containers is to keep them well stocked, overflowing and abundant. Principles of design There are a few simple guidelines for using containers in the garden:
A group of containers should always be of one type of material, for example, terracotta. It is distracting to place a clay, fibre cement and shiny ceramic container in a group.
Containers should ideally be of different sizes – a large, a medium and a lower, broader container. Or you could buy three large, tall containers and display them in a row.
The planting of each container should be in accordance with its size – the largest plant in the largest container, a medium-sized plant in the middle one, and a lowgrowing plant or annuals in the broader container. Plant annuals around the base of plants in larger containers. What to plant Most plants prefer morning sun and afternoon shade, but some will tolerate hot, sunny conditions. A fair number will grow in partial or filtered shade, while only a select few thrive in shady conditions. So once you have decided the locations for your containers, make sure you choose the right plants.
Take a look at the sun on your patio and plant according to the light:
Full sun: ageratum, alyssum, celosia, cosmos, dianthus, marigold, nasturtium, petunia, portulaca, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, rudbeckia, verbena, arctotis, coreopsis, felicia, gaura, gazania, lavender, pelargonium.
Morning sun only: abutilon, ageratum, aquilegia, fuchsia, lobelia, nicotiana, schizanthus.
Partial shade: aquilegia, New Guinea impatiens, begonia, coleus, fuchsia, lobelia, mimulus, schizanthus, torenia.
Shade: begonia, coleus, impatiens. Winning recipes If you are planning to decorate your patio in stylish colour this month, consider these tried and tested plant combinations:
Shape sensation (morning sun to full sun): ornamental millet “Purple Majesty”, begonia “Dragon Wings”, nemesia “Indigo Blue”, Petunia Million Bells ”Terracotta”.
Red-hot hues (morning sun to full sun): New Guinea orange; asparagus fern; petunia Million Bells “Terracotta”; snapdragon; yellow verbena.
Pastel shades ( semishade/morning sun): plectranthus “Mona Lavender”; alternanthera “Purple Knight”; verbena “White”; pink nemesia.
Shady ladies (full shade): pink and white begonias with blue lobelia.
Hanging colour ( morning sun): yellow osteospermum; verbena “Purple” and petunia “Pink Wave”. Keeping them alive December is a hot, dry month. Knowing how to keep containers looking good is all important. Consider these tips on sensible soil preparation and regular maintenance.
Line wire hanging baskets with coir mats to conserve moisture.
Fill or top up your pots with a good quality potting soil. In hanging baskets, use indoor plant potting soil – it retains moisture well.
Add water retaining gel to all potting soil.
Take into account whether the containers will be in sunny or shady positions and choose your plants accordingly. Hanging baskets perform better placed in partially shaded to shady positions.
For best effects, limit the number of colours used to a maximum of three.
Choose shades that harmonise or contrast with each other.
Choose plants that suit the container. A low container will focus attention on the plants, while a decorative pot can be as much part of the display as the plants it holds. Trailing plants suit a large container and hanging baskets.
Plant taller plants in the centre of the container, and lower growing ones around the edges. Mulch the soil. Water your containers every day, and twice a day during very hot spells.
For best blooms, fertilise every two weeks with a liquid fertiliser.
Deadhead – that is, remove flowers that have finished blooming – regularly in order to prolong the flowering season.
If you buy an already made up basket it is best to keep it in semi shade because full sun will be too harsh.
Groom your containers regularly. If the container starts looking tatty, don’t be afraid to cut the plants back or replace them.