Bedding Plants for Boxes, Baskets and Tubs

Colour is what you want when choosing display plants for boxes and hanging baskets. Never be afraid to experiment: unusual combinations like hot oranges, reds and yellows can look quite spectacular; so can the cool colours, the blues mixed with green. Or, for a very sophisticated look, try a one-tone arrangement like white. Switch your colour schemes around from year to year to vary the look of your patio; co-ordinate coloured boxes to match your living-room curtains to add to the effect of an outdoor room.

Ageratum houstonianum is a fluffy blue, pink or white flower from Mexico. ‘Blue Chip’ and ‘Fairy Pink’ are long-flowering varieties.

Alyssum perennials make good, compact flowers in almost all colours of the rainbow. Cut back well after flowering to keep them in shape. (The alyssum annuals are now classified under Lobularia.)

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum), notably the dwarf bedding varieties, are available in many colours. Planted out in May they will produce a succession of blooms throughout summer and into autumn.

Another reliable, long-flowering favourite Begonia semperflorens – the fibrous-rooted type – comes in many colours, from white through cream to deep reds and pinks, with leaves that are green or bronze.

Slipper-flowers (Calceolaria), often grown as indoor plants, have distinctive spotted, pouch-shaped flowers in reds and yellows. They can be planted out after the last frosts and will go on through the summer.

The China aster (Callistephus chinensis) has many cultivars with flowers that vary from those looking like a daisy to complicated chrysanthemum-like blooms in pinks, blues, and white.

Star-of-Bethlehem (Campanula isophylla), a relative of the Canterbury bell, can be grown in a container in a warm, sheltered position, where it rewards you with heart-shaped leaves and starry, bell-like flowers over a long period from late spring to autumn.

The dwarf varieties of cockscomb (Celosia argentea) are best for patio plantings. Forms such as ‘Golden Feather’, ‘Fiery Feather’, ‘Lilliput’ Mixed’, or ‘Jewel Box’ have plume-like flowers in reds and yellows and bloom throughout summer.

Cornflowers (Centaurea) come in other shades than cornflower blue – deep scarlet, for instance. Cornflowers are best grown in situ from seed. Choose C. imperialis for good compact patio plants.

A compact form of another traditional favourite is the Siberian wallflower (Cheiranthus x allionii). Two good varieties are ‘Golden Queen’ and ‘Orange Queen’.

Marguerite, or Paris daisy (Chrysanthemum frutescens), is a bushy perennial which produces abundant white daisies with yellow centres. An ideal plant to train as a flowering standard in an ornamental pot, if given plenty of sunlight it will bloom from spring to autumn.

Cinerarias (strictly Senecio species) are very popular bedding plants for window-boxes, pro ducing masses of close-packed flowers in the spring.

Senecio cruentus (syn. Cineraria cruenta) ‘Gem Mixed’ is a good variety, with flowers (some bicoloured) in pink, red, lilac and purple.

Stocks (Matthiola) are cottage-garden flowers that thrive in boxes and baskets. The night-scented stock (M. bicornis), bears perfumed lavender flowers; other varieties come in pinks, blues and white. Plant it in pots or baskets near house windows to enjoy its lovely evening fragrance.

The Livingstone daisy (Mesembryanthemum criniflorum, syn. Dorotheanthus bellidiformis) is a tiny succulent plant that likes plenty of sun, and produces rich pink and orange flowers.

Nemesia strumosa, a half-hardy annual, makes compact plants with large flowers in a variety of colours: ‘Suttons Mixed’ is in red-orange tones; ‘Blue Gem’ has blue flowers.

Tobacco plants (Nicotiana) are grown as much for their fragrance as for their looks. Flowers come in white, sharp yellow-green, and reds.

Pelargoniums are great window-box and hanging-basket standbys. Choose the zonal varieties for height and the ivy-leaved varieties for climbers or trailers. Look out for scented-leaved varieties, too: their flowers are unremarkable, but the fine-toothed leaves are fragrant and attractive.

The petunia (Petunia x hybrida) is one of the showiest window-box plants with white, pink, red or blue flowers. It can be had in standard, dwarf, or trailing varieties and is very good for hanging baskets as well as for boxes. It blooms throughout the summer and on into September.

The polyanthus, or polyantha primroses (Primula), are hardy perennials available in a variety of delightful colours that will light up the patio in late spring. They can be left as permanent occupants of pots and tubs provided that they are divided from time to time after flowering.

Salvia species are colourful plants with bright red spike-like flowers that are good for formal boxes.

Mother-of-thousands (Saxifraga stolonifera, syn S. sarmentosa), often grown as a house-plant, can also be grown out of doors in summer. It is liked for its colourful leaves – green tinged with pink and silver, with plantlets on runners.

Among several types of marigold, choose the French form (Tagetes patula) if you want a low-growing plant; the African variety (T. erecta) is somewhat taller. Delicately scented, the African marigold has pompon blooms in pale yellows through to red; the French marigold has single or double flowers in the same colours.

Verbena peruviana, a low-growing perennial that needs shelter in the winter, bears brilliant scarlet, star-shaped flowers in great profusion in summer.

Heartsease (Viola tricolor) is a pretty low-grower which comes in a wide variety of colours and blooms in mid-summer.

Zinnia elegans resembles a chrysanthemum; the compact cultivar ‘Lilliput’, about 250mm (10in) tall, is the best form for boxes and baskets. Even smaller is ‘Thumbelina’, which rarely exceeds 150mm (6in). Both varieties have multi-coloured flowers that bloom from June to September.

09. August 2013 by admin
Categories: Featured, Garden Management, Top Tips | Comments Off on Bedding Plants for Boxes, Baskets and Tubs


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