Let Your Garden Join in the Jubilee Celebrations
Red, white and blue are easy colours to find in summer annuals and these are ideal plants to fill your containers. There are plenty of plants that trail easily and plenty that will stand upright. They are going to grow vigorously and flower all summer until the first frost of winter, making them excellent value for colour.
Creating a Red, White and Blue Hanging Basket
When planting a hanging basket start with good compost. I use a basket and container compost because it is rich in nutrients that support vigorous growing plants. It contains some moisture retaining properties and it’s a good texture for the roots to establish into. It is made by Westland a company that has invested in compost development and reducing the peat content. There are a lot of cheap makes of composts that do not have the same integrity.
If it is a wicker basket you are filling check it has some drainage in the plastic lining before filling it up with a mound of compost. If you are making a moss lined wire basket begin by lining half the wire frame with moss and then place a saucer shaped piece of plastic in the bottom, but on top of the moss, then add some compost . You should be looking at a half lined basket, half filled with soil ready for you to place plants in the side of the basket. If it is a 12” basket place about 5 plants through the holes in the side of the basket, potting their roots into the compost, teasing them a little so they are not pot bound and can grow into the fresh compost. To prevent damaging the plants as you push them through the wire wrap a small piece of plastic around the foliage to protect it before you thread it through. Once 5 plants are in place line the basket to the top with about an inch thick (2.2cm) of moss and fill it with compost, making a little mound on top as compost sinks.
Filling the top of a wicker basket or a wire basket is the same principle. Place one taller plant in the centre, one that grows upright not a trailer, a zonal Geranium or Osteospernum would be perfect. Around the outer rim of the basket place the trailing plants. In a 12” basket about 5 plants will be enough, in a larger 14” basket about 7 trailing plants and a 16” basket about 9. Any gaps can be plugged with bedding grown in packs like summer violas, petunias, ageratums, and lobelia and bedding begonias.
I would place a red zonal Geranium like Samelia in the centre and around the rim Bacopa Guliver White, which will have lovely cascading white flowers, a bright red Surfina (trailing petunia) would be a reliable bold red. I would include some of the pot grown Lobelia White Star or Blue Star which is more robust than smaller strip grown lobelia White Fountain. I would have to include a deep blue verbena and Diasica ‘Red Ace’ would be another excellent red for the mix. There are lots and lots of plants from which to choose. I could equally use trailing geraniums in red or white, verbena also available in red and white and interesting blue trailing flowers like Scaevola or Veronica ‘Georgia Blue. One of my favourite trailing plants is Calibrachoa which is like a very small flowering petunia. As it grows it spreads and plunges down and it has a profusion of small flowers in a range of useful colours. Torenia is another great trailer with flowers like mini trumpets. The purple variety is actually a rich blue which is ideal for this colour scheme. Water your baskets daily and don’t forget to feed them very regularly as bedding plants grow vigorously so they eat and drink profusely.
If anyone wants to come along and have a go at making their own basket with a bit of instruction I have one more Hanging Basket Workshop at 7pm in the evening on Tuesday 29th May click here. Call the shop on 01280 848038 or email email@example.com to book.
Annual Plants for Borders and Containers
Allow the colour theme to spill over into your containers and perhaps borders for a very definite feeling of patriotic colour.
When planting into borders add some organic matter in the form of soil conditioner to give it a little boost and plant away. You don’t have to plant mixed pots as often containers of all one colour look fabulous.
One of my favourite summer plants is Salvia ‘Hot Lips' this makes a beautiful summer mound of red and white and stands either side of my front door in steely grey coloured pots. Salvia ‘Sally Fun Blue’ has brilliant deep blue plumes so it is also perfect to use as a blue alternative. The Happy series of Dahlias have continued to excel and are excellent for pots and borders. Dahlia Happy Tip has red and white splash edged flowers and dark foliage. Happy Princess has white flowers. Cosmos with its large open flowers is an old favourite and comes in white. We are in our third year of growing Trend Geraniums which are a larger variety of upright geranium which will stand taller and broader, ideal for borders and pots, every year they have performed well. Lastly if you’re still stuck for an idea there is always the classic white Marguerite Daisy as long as you deadhead the finished heads it will flower continuously.
Have fun planting!