Going Potty in May
Planting up pots can be a real work of art, bringing long bursts of colour to you patio and garden through the summer and into the autumn. Practically anything can be grown in a container, from shrubs such as camellias and pittosporum through to banana trees and acers. For small trees and shrubs it's always better to go for a wide deep pot, remembering that your shrub will soon outgrow anything too small, then be heavy and difficult to move to something bigger.
There are plant combinations and colours to suit all moods. You may want a harmonious array of flowers in pastels and creams, or prefer bolder zest in your display. For a sizzling effect, why not plant up gazanias, zinnias and red lantanas? The oranges and reds orf the lantanas are softened by a buttery yellow zinnia, and the combiination simply sparkles in the sunlight. For a cooler, more subtle look, add lime eucomis to purple euphorbia and white nicotiana to create a sophisticated blend of colour. The lemon of ladies mantle with its pretty dainty leaf adds a lovely lower tier to the arrangement. If you fancy tropical, why not plant up a big container with a banana tree, a couple of lime hostas, a red or orange flowered canna and trailing apricot begonia. The purple tones in the banana leaf link well with those of the canna, while the apricot of the begonia spark against the pale green of the hosta. These will need overwintering somewhere frost free, or covering with thick fleece.
There are endless combinations of annuals all designed to give colour throughout the year, some scented like stock to add fragrance to your patio. But whether you go for a dramatic agave or frothy fillings of daisies, make sure you regularly feed your plants during the growing season. A liquid tomato feed ideally once a week is easiest, though for longer term potted plants, slow release granules onto the surface of the compost each spring should be enough. Scraping off the top two inches of compost in the spring and replacing with fresh compost also helps the long term health of you plants and promotes an extended flowering season.