Top tips for summer pots from Iford Manor

  • 19 Apr 2018

This warm weather is the perfect time to start thinking about planting your summer pots. Alison Jones, one of Iford Manor's gardeners shares her top tips!

"Italian-style pots are well used in the Grade 1 Listed Peto Garden at Iford Manor during summer. These enhance the colour and structure of the garden in areas with no formal planting, deepening the Mediterranean feel arising from Harold Peto’s designs at Iford, created when it was his home from 1899-1933. 

Once the last frosts of Spring have passed, it is the perfect time to make up your pots and hanging baskets to really bring your garden to life.

When making these up at home, we recommend the following ‘top-tips’: 

1. Be bold: try pelargoniums (including scented leaf, regals & zonals) as the mainstay of your pots. Scented with varied foliage and reliable flowering, pelargoniums are tough, easy to grow and provide good shape and structure to a pot. Propagate them ready for use after the last frosts of Spring. Combine with other plants for further effects: 

  • Contrast and texture - Salvia ‘Nachtvlinder’, Fuchsia ‘Lottie Hobby’, Plectranthus purpuratus & grasses, e.g. Carex testacea;
  • Height and visual impact - Begonia ‘Lucerna’ & Salvia ‘Amistad’; 
  • Soft, rambling elements - trailing plants, e.g. Bacopa, Helichrysum ‘Silver Mist’ & variegated Nepeta ‘Grannilocks’.  
  • Use a mix of colours, or stick to a more restricted palate or ‘theme’; whichever suits you best! Pots with single plantings, such as agapanthus or species pelargoniums e.g. P. sidoides, can be just as effective and quite striking, but may be more seasonal than mixed plantings. 

2. Lots of plants to create an impact: tightly packed pots give a feeling of abundance and lush planting. Choosing already well-established plants helps you to visualise the end result and adds instant impact. Of course, more plants means more maintenance, but the overall effect is well worth it. At Iford, it enables us to have striking, well developed pot displays through to October.

  • Plants confined to a pot need feeding: use a slow release fertilizer mixed in with potting compost when assembling the pots and, when needed, use a quick acting feed such as liquid seaweed. 
  • Good watering is paramount: daily watering is needed in summer to wet the compost through until water runs freely from the drainage holes in the base. Terracotta and clay pots absorb moisture themselves, so will need more water than plants in plastic pots. 
  • Regularly deadhead: this prologues the flowering and gives the container a more maintained look. Pelargoniums and salvia particularly benefit from this. At Iford, we do this most days in summer and can rely on the display pots flowering beautifully all the way through to October, and often beyond."

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