Re-plant your plant containers
Re-plant your plant containers now!
Are your patio pots still filled with petunias and your hanging baskets with begonias?
Well, whatever is in them, it’s time for a seasonal change!
That’s right, summer is definitely over and it’s time to re-plant your plant containers!
Shorter days and cooler nights have crept up on us and, whilst some summer bedding plants have just kept on blooming it’s time to draw a line under it and re-plant for the next six months!
What to do with the summer plants
Before you get started consider whether you can save anything for next summer.
By all means cut back and re-pot Pelargonium [“Geraniums”], fuchsias and other half hardy perennial plants.
These will need to be protected in a bright and frost free place such as a greenhouse or conservatory until next spring.
Do dig up and dry off Begonia corms to be stored too. These can be stored in a dark frost free place.
But as for the annuals varieties such as Lobelia, Petunia, stocks, Nicotiana and masses of others, these are best consigned to the compost heap. There is no point in keeping them!
How about fresh compost?
So your pots, hanging baskets and window boxes are now empty and ready to be refilled.
There’s a temptation to try to reuse the potting compost but this is best resisted.
After a whole summer of growing your plants this is another contender for the compost heap or the bottom of a sweet pea or bean trench. It’s exhausted and most plant nutrients are gone but it is still valuable as organic matter for soil improvement.
Buy fresh potting or multipurpose compost to refill your containers.
Do I need to feed?
Use fresh peat free potting compost and at this time of the year it doesn’t have to have water retaining gel added to it.
But it does need feed and, as at other times of the year, I always recommend using resin coated slow release fertiliser such as Gro-Sure or another similar brand.
This is a very clever fertiliser since it is in tune with plant’s needs. – When it’s warm and plants are growing the food is released, when it’s cold and growth slows down the feed release stops too.
What are the varieties to re-plant your plant containers
In fact although there isn’t as great a choice as there is for planting in spring, there is no shortage of variety!
Mainstay of any winter and spring display is of course pansies. These will give a good show right through the winter. Varieties of pansies have been bred to flower throughout winter. They’ve been selected to quickly start flowering again as temperatures rise after a cold snap.
But if you plant out pansies that have not yet started to flower it is my experience that they will often wait for days to lengthen in the New Year before they really start to bloom well. So for this reason, the sooner you plant them, the better the show will be!
Violas are close relatives of pansies and now have an equal choice of colours and garden performance!
Some fabulous colour combinations are possible with these little beauties and there is huge potential to combine them with plants with attractive foliage.
If you lack the confidence to mix your own colour combinations you’ll find that garden centres often have subtle pre-mixed shades for you to plant up!
A wide range of evergreen plants can be used to add ‘structure’ to plantings.
Bronze sedge, straw coloured grasses, slow growing conifers, variegated Hebe and Euonymus, Heuchera and other small plants are widely available.
Come spring and it is time to replant for summer these little evergreen plants can be potted into bigger pots or planted out into the garden borders to grow on to full maturity.
So for this reason these perennial hardy foliage plants represent great value for money!
How about seasonal colour to re-plant those containers?
Mini cyclamen will give a great show until the end of the year. They may go on blooming into next year but it is best to under-plant them. They are not strong late winter or spring bloomers.
So under-plant them with short stemmed bulbs.
Daffodil Tete a Tete, Jet Fire and others work well and provide that early spring splash of colour.
These can be preceded by planting snowdrops and crocus to get really early blooms in your pots!
To extend the show into late April and May there are some cracking short tulips to plant under your bedding plants!
Little Red Riding Hood is tried and tested but there are so many others to try!
And if blue is your colour, then add in some beautiful squills [Scilla sibirica] or grape hyacinth [Muscari].
There’s certainly no shortage of bulbs available in autumn for creating a great seasonal display of blooms!
I’ve made no mention of polyanthus, primrose and wallflowers. I know they are popular bedding plants that can be planted in autumn.
These produce very few flowers in winter. For that reason I believe they are better planted in borders rather than in containers.
As you can see, there is plenty to choose from!
Don’t delay and it easy, fun and rewarding to plant your own containers up for winter!
You might be interested in knowing why it is good to plant tulips late in autumn.