The seasonal plants we use for pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes. are called bedding plants. Bedding plants are usually grown under glass at nurseries and sold to fill garden borders, pots and containers with seasonal colour. They can be annuals, which die off every year, biennials which last 2 years and usually set seed allowing new plants to grow and some perennials which will keep coming back every year. Normally at this time of year bedding plants will be a huge part of any garden centre or plant seller’s business. They are still available under the lockdown but you need to order them online or subscribe to our plant delivery service.
Spring is the best time of year to start adding colour to a garden, patio, courtyard, balcony or window ledge. The plants used for this are broadly called bedding plants, though really, with a little imagination, any plant can add something special to a planting design.
Looking After Your Plants
Firstly, you need to think about the effect you want to create and the conditions to which the plants will be exposed. Because they are often forced under glass when you buy them or delivered through an online service, when you first plant them, they will need special care. And because they are going to be in pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes, they will quickly dry out in the summer months. Before you know it, these delicate plants will wilt in the heat or be decimated by caterpillars or slugs. So keep a constant eye on them, if you want them to flourish.
When you bring plants back from the nursery or they arrive, the first thing to do is put them somewhere where they can gently acclimatise to their new surroundings. If they are not very hardy and haven’t been outside before, it might be a good idea to keep them for a couple of days somewhere cool and out of hot sun, while you decide what to do with them. Make sure they are moist, but not too wet.
For the right effect, you want some trailing plants that will hang over the side of your pots, containers and balcony planters. There is something lovely about the way some plants travel and curl their way round pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes., finding spots to extend their tendrils and burst forth into bloom. Equally something like Ivy, which comes in many varieties, will hang over the side of a pot and gently nod back and forth giving a lovely sense of movement to your planting design. Plants you might use for this would be Lobelia, Campanula, Serafina or Petunia and Bacopa.
Next you want some greenery or structural plants just to give the planting design a strong overall look. This could include grasses which have different habits or shapes. These are not bedding plants but will be easily available to buy and work well in pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes. Some flow outwards, like fountains and give lovely shapes to the design, others push straight upwards to give interesting height. You can plant more delicate flowers to shoot up among the grasses, which gives a meadowy feel. Other evergreen plants like Euonymous or dwarf Hebe or Myrtle will also give a strong heart to your design and support other plants. Wallflowers (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ is the most well known) will also have the same effect as will Rosemary or Lavender.
There are lots of perennials you can also use in pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes.. Woody semi-evergreen Salvias, which are the Sage family, not only give continuing colour but their leaves have a wonderful fragrance. Gaura is a plant with lovely fronds and delicate flowers in different pinks and blues. Curry plant (Helichrysium) and Cotton Lavender (Santolina) also have fragrant leaves.
Flowering Plants for Colour
And finally a few show-stoppers, repeat flowering plants that keep on giving and make your planting designs look better and better. For this you might go for bedding plants like Sennetii or Papaver (poppies that will keep flowering and seed themselves the following year), trailing Verbenas, Celosia, Dianthus (Pinks or Carnations) and geraniums of different varieties.
If you prefer you can also use plants more commonly used in garden borders. Fiery orange Geums, Rudbeckia and later in the year Echinaceas. Green and purple Heucheras look great flopping over the sides of pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes. If you can be sure to keep the slugs and snails away Lupins and Delphiniums can look fantastic and give lots of soaring colour for your planting design. I have even used towering perennial plants like Perovskia and Verbena Bonariensis for eye-catching effect
Colours for plants
Everyone has their own preferences for plant colours. I don’t think any one style is right or wrong. You choose what plants you like and which colours you prefer. However, if you want to create hot, sunny pots and containers, you might want to go for yellows, oranges and reds. For a more elegant classic look, purple, white and green is classy in any setting. If you want to go for a big statement, whites and reds work together. In the end all plants are beautiful, it’s going to be down to your taste what you plant. But if you are looking for a special look in terms of colour, it’s worth looking at the labels when you buy, particularly if the plants are not in full bloom.
So when you are planning the planting scheme for your pots, containers, balcony planters and window boxes, think big. Go for an effect that will give you continual impact and pleasure. Keep a continuous eye on your plants. Even a couple of days can make a difference to their happy survival. You can get just as much joy from these planting designs as you would from a garden.