Thursday, 10 May 2007


Believe it or not, now is a great time to get those containers filled with summer bedding. We still have to watch out for cold nights but most of the annuals should be safe enough barring a frost. I put out all of my cacti a couple of weeks ago thinking that they would be safe on the windowsill. Unfortunately I was a bit early and they have all gone a very funny colour and some have turned into mush because the frost got into them. More fuel for the compost bin!

You might be tempted to go for the baskets that are already filled in the garden centres. There might not be as many plants in them compared to baskets you make up yourself. Also the plants will probably be in full bloom so you won’t get as long a show of colour. When you are choosing plants go for ones that have a long flowering season to get the best out of the basket. Whichever ones you go for, remember that they have been grown indoors and they will need a bit of protection against the elements for the first few days, so put them in a sheltered spot for a day or two. Try filling the basket with just one type of plant for a dramatic effect. Busy Lizzies; fuchsias or geraniums give a brilliant display until the first frosts. Avoid plants such as nemesia unless you can grow new plants at regular intervals as they only flower for a short period. Here are a few on offer that I found to be reliable in baskets:

Trailing lobelia. Very well behaved around the sides of the basket.

Pansies. The summer varieties will last all summer. Deadhead often, but save a few seed heads for planting up next spring.

Verbena. Loads to choose from here. Pick the trailing type and plant near the centre of the basket so they fill out before going over the edge. They take really easily from cuttings too.

Busy Lizzie. Bright display all summer. Again they root easily from cuttings.

Geranium. We’re spoilt for choice again with these. Upright or trailing, take your pick.

Bidens. These are very fast growing. They have yellow flowers and trail very well. Buncrana council use them to very good effect in their displays. Cuttings take very easily as well so don’t buy too many of them.

Helichrysum. These are grown for their silvery foliage. They trail very well and can be over wintered.

Begonia. Again, these will flower until the first frosts. The tuberous types can be over wintered.

When you are buying the plants try to buy the ones that aren’t in flower yet as these will give you a longer display. If you find yourself buying a plant that is pot bound then tease some roots out gently from around the root ball, this should help the plant to establish once it is planted into the basket.


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