One of the easiest ways to add colour to your garden in the summer is through a summer pot display. Although I love having a large garden to look after now, our previous house had only a small courtyard garden, so I’m used to being limited to container gardening. Summer pots are one of my favourite ways to add colour to the garden at the time when you’re going to be using it most.
After getting back from our holiday, setting up our summer pot display was one of my first to-do items. I headed to the garden centre to pick up the plants I wanted to use and got straight onto it.
There is an art to creating a mixed pot – the balance of textures and colours can be a difficult one to get right. But there is a seasoned recipe for this – you stick to three different plants which perform different functions: thriller, spiller, and filler. The thriller is your centrepiece plant, providing the wow factor; spiller softens the edges, tumbling out of the side of the pot; and filler provides the balance, with foliage or softer flowering plants that won’t overwhelm your star attraction.
I think it’s also important to think about colours and plants across all of your pots. Link the colour scheme across your pots – I use a pink, purple and blue colour scheme in the rest of the garden, so I logically follow that for the pots too. I also try to repeat the plants across my range of pots, to create a bit of cohesion.
This year I’ve chosen Salvia Nemorosa Ostfriesland (partly as I want to plant this one out after the summer to replace one I lost in the flood), purple and hot pink osteropermum (African daisies) and a lovely hot pink pelargonium as my thrillers – fabulous colours that are really eye-catching and should flower throughout the season.
Other good thrillers: dahlias, fuschias, argyrantheum (margerite)
I went for a touch of blue with trailing lobelia, which should just gently cascade over the sides of the pots. I bought quite a lot of this with the intention of using it in every pot to tie things together.
Other good spillers: Alternantheras, nasturtiums
Geraniums (or pelargoniums) are probably the most familiar summer container plant. I chose a soft pink variety, but I love their pretty leaves too, which provide a good backdrop for my thrillers.
Other good fillers: heliotrope, trailing petunias
Think about scale when choosing your pairings – a rough guide that works is if your spillers and fillers are between 1/3 and 2/3 the size of your thrillers.
How to plant up
- Place drainage material (broken bits of pot, stones, gravel etc.) into the bottom of your pot, then fill with multi-purpose compost, leaving space for your plants plus an extra inch at the top to allow for watering.
- Arrange your plants as you wish. Once I’ve chosen my plants, I don’t like to overthink the arrangement too much! As you can see from my finished photos below, mine need to grow in a little more, but the flowers should start blooming very soon and bring in the colour.
- Water in well.
- Regular deadheading will ensure your flowers continue to bloom and provide a really impressive display.
- Ensure that the pots are kept watered daily throughout the summer – that should be easy, as if there is any nice weather I’m sure you’ll be outside on your patio enjoying a nice glass of wine whilst admiring your beautiful pots!
Have you created any summer pots yet? I’d love to know what plants you used, or your favourites from other years – do leave me a comment and let me know!