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A simple, but stunning effect can be had by planting a wire basket entirely with Busy Lizzies.
In full flower the basket is a perfect sphere of colour.
Types To Use:
I have received consistently good results with "Accent" Impatiens, however any F1 hybrid type will give similar results.
How To Plant
Place a 14" basket on a large pot for stability. Place a pre-formed recycled paper liner in the basket and half fill with a good , peat based compost, enriched with slow release fertiliser and water retention granules.
Push the small plants through the side planting holes , working round the basket from bottom to top.
Fill the basket up to the rim with more compost and plant nine more impatiens into the top of the basket.
Water in well and stand the completed basket in a sheltered shady place in the garden for a week or so. (If you hang the basket before the young plants have grown new roots , the wind will shock them!)
Impatiens baskets do best in shade , but will require watering every day when in full growth, (Every other day if water retention granules have been added to the compost).
For spectacular baskets, six weeks after planting start liquid feeding weekly with a high potash liquid fertiliser such as a propriety Tomato feed.
The well known trailing Petunia has revolutionised the hanging basket industry. The best Surfinias and other comparable Trailing Petunias are:
Surfinia Blue : Sweetly scented!
Surfinia White: Startling!
Surfinia Giant Purple
Surfinia Pink Vein
Surfinia Blue vein
Surfinia Pink Ice: Not so vigorous, but does have variegated foliage to compliment the pink blooms.
Surfinia Sky Blue
Surfinia Hot Pink
Use five plants of the same variety . Make sure you use a trailing type , rather than the upright bush Fuchsias.
Reliable Basket Fuchsias are:
Annabel: An outstanding large double flowered white/ blush.
Cover Girl : Red/ Sky blue semi-double. Medium sized blooms
Dancing Flame : Lovely large pure orange flowers.
Eva Boerg: Blush white/ Violet . Medium semi double blooms.
La Campanella : Small flowered but in profusion. White flushed pink/Imperial purple.
Swingtime: An old favourite with large double red and white blooms.
Pink Panther: All pink medium sized semi-double blooms.
Marinka: All red medium sized single blooms
If you live in a frost free zone, shear over the plants in spring time to keep them compact.For those of us living in cold climates, the choices are that we either, take cuttings in late summer and keep them frost free over the winter period, or the old mother plant can be dug up ,potted up and cut back by half.It must be stored in a light, cool frost free placeand watered sparingly .
Marguerites ,or to give them their latin name Agryanthemum frutescens , have suddenly become popular again .The long flowering period coupled with the beautifully colored daisy type blooms, make the hastle of winter care very worthwhile.
Your patio containers don't have to lie empty over winter and spring.Plant them with a combination of hardy evergreens, winter flowering heathers ,spring bulbs and flowers.
Good central height plants include young specimens of the following:
Chamaecyparis "Boulevard","Elwoodii" or "Ellwood's Gold", Skimmia japonica "Rubella", Aucuba crotonifolia or Buxus sempervirens.
Next around the center shrub plant some winter flowering Ericas such as "Silberschmeltze", "Springwood Pink" or "King George", Colored foliage Callunas such as "Sunset", "Beouly Gold" or "Gold Haze".
One or two hardy primulas such as "Wanda", will bring late winter cheer.
To trail over the container edges choose some pretty variegated ivies such as "Kolibri, "Golden Child" or "Golden Inga"
Finally plant some crocus, dwarf narcissi or dwarf Tulips into the gaps for spring color.
The combinations are your choice, but this style will give color and interest till it's time to plant the summer annuals again.
Diascias are often sold alongside half hardy perennials, but many are reasonable hardy when planted in the ground as opposed to a container. All have masses of bell-like flowers over a period that extends from May till October and are trailing or semi- trailing in nature.
Use Diascias in mixed patio containers, hanging baskets, edging to borders and as rockery plants.
These are some I have personally used and can thoroughly recommend.
Diascia "Blackthorn Apricot" : Salmon
Diascia "Ice Cracker": Stunning, pure white.
Diascia " Redstart" : Gorgeous red.
Diascia "Twinkle" : Bright pink
Diascia "Katherine Sharmon": Ruby flowers and cream variegated foliage.
Wire baskets have the benefit that the sides as well as the tops can be planted.
Solid sided baskets do not tend to dry out so much and naturally use only one third of the plants.
There are benefits in both types, but remember well grown plants will cover the basket sides , so do not choose a "fancy" basket.....It will not be seen.
One good point to remember is choose the largest size of basket that you can cope with. Baskets less than 12" will dry out very quickly and do not have the impact of larger types.
Agryanthemums , commonly known as Marguerites or Paris daisies, have become very popular again over the past decade. The foliage is often very attractive, but for sheer flower-power they are hard to beat. All have single or semi- double or button -like flowers in an ever increasing colour range.
Use Agryanthemums as single specimen plants in patio tubs, dot plants in bedding displays, as centre plants in large hanging baskets and as gap fillers in the herbaceous or mixed borders.
Amongst the best are:
Agryanthemum "Mary Cheeks": Lovely pale pink double flowers. 18" tall.
Agryanthemum "Jamaica Snowstorm": Pure white single daisies over ferny, grey foliage. 36"
Agryanthemum "Summer Melody": The best pink double 14"
Agryanthemum "Cornish Gold" : Fantastic large clear yellow single flowers. 24"
Agryanthemum "Sugar Buttons": Beautiful creamy -white buttons. 24"
Agryanthemum "Chelsea Girl": Small single white flowers over amazingly thread-like silver foliage. 24"
Agryanthemum "Petite Pink": The best single pink. Ferny, grey foliage. 18"
A fast growing trailing foliage plant to compliment the flowering plants in hanging baskets and patio tubs.
The species has silver foliage and will trail to 3 ft .
Helichrysum "Limelight" is golden yellow, with a similar rampant habit.
For the smaller baskets and containers choose Helichrysum variegatum with green and silver foliage or Helichrysum microphyllum , a more compact sort with small silver foliage.
Choose a 14 inch diameter wire or solid sided basket. Fill with a good quality potting compost and mix through a handful of slow release fertiliser, such as osmocote.
Add a teaspoon of water retention granules, such as Swelgel.
Plant five basket plants of the same species equidistant around the edge of the basket.
A good tip is to plant them on their side to encourage the trailing growth.
Hang the basket after a week to minimise the shock of the wind on the new plants!
The European mainstay for this type of basket is the Ivy leaf Geranium . The best sorts to use are the single flowered types:
Evka: Red with silver edged foliage.
Ville de Dresden : White
All of these varieties are short jointed, compact and very floriferous
Here is the basic method and some suitable plants which have proven reliable for me. Colour choice is a matter of personal taste. Soft pastels, contrasting colours, single coloured baskets or wild hot clashing mixes , the choice is yours!
(1) Sit the empty basket on a large pot for stability, place in your chosen liner and half fill with the potting compost.
(2) Push 3 "quality" plants in a triangular formation through the holes in the middle layer of the liner. Suitable plants for this are (Choose 3 only!): Chlorophytum, Asparagus sprengeri, Nepeta , Tradescantia, Bidens, Diascia , Helichrysum petiolare, Bacopa, Lotus and Laurentia
(3) Fill all the other pre-formed spaces with annuals such as : Trailing Lobelia, Dwarf Violas (E.g. Princess )& Impatiens.
(4) Top up the basket with more compost.
(5) Plant a single tall bushy plant in the centre. Good plants to use are Pelargonium, Agryanthemum, Osteospermum, or a bush Fuchsia.
(6) Around the centre plant three medium annuals such as Petunias in a triangular formation
(7) Just in front of the medium annuals and in the spaces in-between, plant three small annuals such as French Marigolds or Begonia semperflorens.
(8) Plant 3 trailing flowering plants on their sides, (To encourage trailing), at the outer edge of the basket. Suitable plants include Surfinia Petunias, Bidens, Helichrysum, Trailing verbena, Ivy leaf geranium Trailing fuchsia, trailing begonia. A lovely effect is gained by choosing 3 different plants. Surfinias, Bidens and Helichrysum are rampant and may swamp the weaker growers, but will happily compete with each other!
(9) Planting is complete! Water well and stand the basket on its pot in a shady part of the garden for a week or so before hanging up.
Traditionally, wire hanging baskets were lined with sphagnum moss, turf (sod) or even strawy stable manure! (Who says they were" The Good Old years!")
Sphagnum moss undoubtedly looks aesthetically pleasing in a newly planted hanging basket, where you can still see the sides. After a few weeks you will not be able to see the sides so use what is most convenient.
I make in excess of 350 20" mixed baskets per year and have used Moss, pre formed liners and even black polythene, slit to make room for the plants.
Without a doubt, performed liners made from recycled wood pulp, paper or coir are easy to use and give excellent results. A major advantage is that side planting holes are pre- formed so there is no guesswork at how many plants to use and how far apart to space them.
A fast growing true trailing plant with bright yellow star-like flowers and ferny foliage. One of the few plants strong enough to compete with trailing petunias.
Use the species in large hanging baskets and patio tubs, where it can trail to 3 ft long.
Look out for Bidens "Goldie" and the new "Samsara" which are more compact and won't swamp more delicate neighbours
Glazed Pottery/ terracotta pots:
Although the prices have come down over the past few years, they are relatively expensive.The fancy glazes can look dull when weathered.
Easily damaged by frost.
Cheapest option. Can be unstable in wind if not weighed down properly.The terracota replica types are convincing and are not damaged by frost action.
Often rot from the inside. Outside needs to be treated with wood preserve regularly.Can be inexpensive if you live near a brewery.
The main problem is that they are heavy and expensive, but the do last a long time and are weather resistant.
There are pros and cons for each type of container, but keep in mind that a well planted cheap patio container looks better than the most expensive, if it is poorly planted.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|