Colourful containers and beautiful baskets

Some of the most attractive summer sights are containers and hanging baskets overflowing with, bright, beautiful bedding and other summer-flowering plants. Now's a good time to make a start on your summer container creations.

Not only do containers and hanging baskets look fabulous in every garden, but containers bulging with blooms also take up very little room, so are perfect for even the smallest gardens or for those who only have a patio. Hanging baskets also help to create colour at height, helping to make the most of vertical spaces and are again brilliant for small gardens.

Before you go container crazy and start planting up with bedding plants and other summer-flowering patio plants, just remember they are not cold and frost hardy. So if you start planting up now, you will need somewhere to keep the containers if a frost is forecast - or certainly somewhere sheltered and covered. Have some horticultural fleece on hand, covering your plants with fleece can be provided up to 5°C of frost protection.

One good reason for planting now is that plants get established quicker than during summer and so start growing and flowering sooner, ensuring a display of colour earlier in the summer.

ABC of container planting

When planting up plant thickly, putting in as many plants as you can, and follow the ABC of planting:

  • A plants: tall for the middle.
  • B plants: medium-sized for the middle and to fill out the container.
  • C plants: trailers to overflow the edges and hide the sides of the container; particularly important for hanging baskets.

One of the other great things about containers is that you can let your imagination go wild and make great combinations. I find that some degree of colour co-ordination gives more pleasing results - using all hot, fiery colours like bright reds, oranges and purples look great, or chill out with cooler colours, like whites, pale blues and pinks.

Plants in containers are only as good... the people looking after them! Just remember that plants will be more-or-less totally dependent on you for their food and water. Always use good potting compost and aim to keep it evenly moist - allowing it to dry out and then overwatering and flooding is the easiest way to ruin the display and even kill the plants. A regular diet of nutrients is also essential, using controlled-release feeds at planting up is the easiest and most convenient way of feeding. Alternatively, feed with a liquid fertiliser every 10 to 14 days from 5 weeks after planting up, providing you've used a good quality compost containing a good supply of nutrients.

Labour of love

A little time spent planting up now will guarantee you a summer of colour. So you can then sit back, relax and enjoy the view!

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