If we are lucky, there is likely to be some hot sunny weather on the way and any summer bedding plants will now be filling their containers with roots, making it a real challenge to keep them from drying out. Most summer flowering plants will just stop growing, drop flower buds and leaves if they dry out at this time of the year, so here are a few tips to help keep them going if you are on holiday or at work!
Save some big plastic bottles, cut the bottom off and make some slits – not holes – near the top. Carefully make a hole in the middle of your planted container big enough to hold the top of the bottle. Keep the top screwed on tightly, fill with water and push into the container. If the container is very dry then try to soak it before putting the bottle in position and it should then help to maintain water levels.
The compost levels in some containers may need topping up. Mix some water retaining granules with fresh compost before topping up and make sure to firm the compost around the plants. In garden borders or larger containers you can connect a piece of garden hosepipe to a larger container via a tap or piece of pipe. Plug
up the end of the hosepipe and make some small holes all along its length; place the hosepipe close to the plants and the water will seep out slowly.
Mulching with garden compost is also an effective way of conserving moisture as well as indirectly feeding your plants. I often hear it said that there is a shortage of shrubs that flower during the summer months. Not so! Here are some suggestions for summer colour:
Hibiscus syriaacus - a compact shrub with superb dark red, pink or white flowers from mid to late summer; this plant can be trimmed in the spring to keep it in shape.
Hydrangeas in various forms and colours from blue to pink or white, easily kept in shape by trimming in the spring.
Callicarpa bodinieri - lovely pink flowers in late summer followed by (if you plant several plants to ensure pollination) bunches of blue/purple berries.
Buddleias with white to purple flowers will always be covered in butterflies – cut hard back each spring to stop them growing too large.
Caryopteris clandonensis (pictured) – a low growing shrub with lovely blue flowers – cut back hard in the spring for best blooms.
Fuchsias in all sorts of colour combinations will keep on flowering from July until the first frosts – don’t cut them back until late spring.