Bursts colour of­pot­ted

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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - CONTAINERS -

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.

Sum­mer­flow­er­inghy­drangeas,lo­beli­aandim­pa­tien­sare­com­bined­forashady­corner.

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