Plant up your pots for Summer!
It’s time to plant up your pots for summer!
If Easter Weekend is the traditional time to plant out potatoes then surely May Bank Holiday is the time for getting a great display for summer!
Now most plants can be grown in containers of some sort or other.
The look of each will be of your personal preference and chosen to fit in with the style of your house and surroundings.
Your choice may also be influenced by what you can afford to buy new or whether you opt for an ‘up-cycled’ container such as tyres, an old bath or some other receptacle.
Whatever container you choose to grow in do make certain that there is adequate drainage holes in the bottom. Because most plants will not tolerate constantly wet conditions.
Just like hanging baskets the choice of potting compost is critical!
Fortunately, peat reduced and peat free composts are much better than they used to be. I’m sure that they will continue to improve.
Don’t be put off by the coarse fibrous nature of modern potting composts. This coarseness ensures that plant roots get plenty of air! Invariably plants growing in the coarse rough looking composts have better roots systems. This will deliver better growth and more blooms!
I am constantly surprised to be asked what percentage of garden soil can be mixed with bought potting compost. The answer is emphatically none! Why would you want to dilute the perfect compost and run the risk of adding pests, diseases and most certainly adding weed seeds?
However as I write this in the ninth week of Coronavirus lockdown I must admit that I have been forced this spring to do just this! I’ve added the best garden soil to the bottom of pots and put pure potting compost on top.
Of course plants that are ‘contained’ can only get water and nutrients from the compost. Or that which you add by regularly liquid feeding.
So do mix in resin coated controlled release fertiliser right from the start. Osmocote is probably the most widely available sort but they all are good.
Life is made easier by adding a water saving gel when you are planting.
This gel can be a life saver when you are away on holiday and stores ten times its own volume of water. This is released to thirsty plant roots when the compost media begins to get dry out.
Now this is no excuse for not watering and a daily- sometimes twice daily – soak of plants in pots is needed.
I find that this is best done in the evening or early morning. Temperatures are lower and I find it therapeutic to water with one hand whilst removing fading flowers with the other.
However, in the evenings that does leave me with the dilemma of where to put the glass of wine!
Perhaps the answer is to invest in a simple and automatic drip irrigation system that can be easily programmed to water at night?
The choice of varieties available to plant up your pots for summer is immense! I had great difficulty in narrowing the list down!
Remember that some plants do better in shade than others so I am going to split my list to reflect this.
Alan’s Top Ten to plant up your pots and containers
For full or part sun –
1 Zonal and Ivy Leaf Geraniums [Pelargonium]
2 Petunia – especially the large or double flowered varieties
3 Nemesia – for scent and flower power
4 Diascia – pastel shades and non-stop blooms
5 Brachyscome [Swan River Daisy]
6 Bacopa [Sutera]
7 Argyranthemum [Marguerite Daisies] – because you need some height and airy fairy stuff!
For shade or part shade
8 Fibrous rooted Begonias.
9 Fuchsias – so many to choose from!
10 Lobelia – at its best when cool and moist
Of course, there are masses more and plenty of less common ones too.
Formerly the number one seller worldwide, Impatiens have been plagued by disease. But now they are coming back!
The newer seed grown ‘Divine’ Impatiens are quite good but I’m already finding that ‘Beacon’ Impatiens have the great look of the old varieties and no sign of the dreaded downy mildew disease. This is well worth looking out for!
Many plants can be raised form plug or baby plants. I’ve written about that here.
With garden centres and nurseries now open again and the Covid-9 lockdown restrictions lifting there’s no time to waste to plant up your pots for summer!