Container gardening for Summer

Date
Published in
Various local newspapers (UK)
Written by
Kim Wilde

Summer flowering patio containers and hanging baskets are a wonderful bonus to any garden, as the colourful displays they produce will transform any area. Patio containers and hanging baskets are especially valuable to gardeners who do not have the luxury of a garden, but instead may have a balcony, courtyard or paved area only.

Planting my own patio containers and hanging baskets at this time of the year, is one of my favourite activities, as it allows me to be creative and gives me the opportunity to experiment with colour, texture and composition. I am able to create instant, new and exciting displays on a large or small scale. The huge range of pots and containers available these days, as well as the enormous variety of plants, means that with some imagination you can easily create an absolutely stunning display in any space. There are plants to suit every position and colour scheme, from elegant, calming, cool shades to vibrant, hot fiery tones.

Now that the warmer weather is here, your winter containers and hanging baskets will be looking tired and past their best and you should now start to replant them with summer bedding plants. The first job is to empty your old containers and baskets completely, ensuring any of the old material and compost are put into your compost bin to be recycled. Thoroughly clean your containers and baskets with mild soapy water to prevent pest and diseases and if necessary replace worn hanging basket chains and liners.

Your empty containers and baskets should be completely refilled using fresh compost, such as J. Arthur Bowers Tub and Basket Compost. This will ensure that your plants receive the right amount of nutrients throughout the summer months and will provide you with the best possible display. With containers, remember to place a layer of clean crocks in the base of your pot, which will help with drainage.

When deciding on your choice of plants, you may choose a mixture of flower colours or decide on a colour co-ordinated theme, however bear in mind that the simplest ideas are sometimes the most effective. If you visit your local garden centre you will find a huge selection of summer flowering bedding plants available now. Some of my own personal favourites are Impatiens, Petunias, Geraniums, and Fuchsias, trailing Verbena, Osteospermums and Diascia.

After filling your container with fresh compost, choose a plant to act as a focal point, such as an upright Geranium, Fucshia or Osteospermum that is in proportion with the container you are using. Your other smaller plants such as Impatiens and Petunias can be tightly planted around the centrepiece to form your display, trailing plants such as Diascia or Verbena can be planted to cascade over the edge of your container or basket.

After planting and watering, ideally position your containers and baskets in a greenhouse or conservatory for a couple of weeks to establish, before placing outside, when the risk of overnight frosts has passed.

Your containers and baskets should be checked every day and watered as required, ensuring they never dry out. They will also benefit from a weekly feed of a Tub and Basket Liquid Plant Food. Remember to remove dead flower heads to encourage more flowers for a continual display. Check regularly for any signs of pest or diseases and treat immediately.