Plants in pot on the patio or decking make a colourful display!

Plants in pot on the patio or decking make a colourful display!

Garden plants | 10 March 2021

Cheerfully flowering containers full of plants on the patio or decking mean you can enjoy the fabulous colour they bring all spring and summer long. Even when the weather isn’t great, it will still look sunny and cheerful with these abundantly flowering plants! Think Fuchsia, Geranium (Pelargonium) and Petunia – they all like full sun, but there are some varieties that thrive just as well in the shade. Spring is the time for potting up your containers with these types of plant. Use outdoor planters, window boxes and hanging baskets – and try combining them together with flower bulbs. The possibilities are practically endless. Give a big colourful boost to your patio or decking with container plants and read all the tips we have prepared for you below.

Is your patio in the sun, or the shade?

Do you have a nice sunny patio/decking, or is it in the shade? Make sure you choose suitable plants for your patio/decking and plant them up into decorative containers, plant pots and window boxes. Most container plants like a lot of sun but luckily there are also some species that are happy in a shady or part shady spot. Which garden plants are most suitable for your patio or decking?

How can you tell which direction your garden is facing?

On a sunny morning, preferably early (8 o'clock) take a look where the sun is - that'll be East. Now turn directly behind you and that will be west. To your right, south, and to your left, north. From that you should be able to tell which way your garden faces. Alternatively use a compass or a compass app on your phone!

  • Do you have a south facing patio or decking? Then you should use plants that thrive in full sun and are resistant to drought. Think Carnations, Ox-eye daisies, Roses, Lavender, Calibrachoa, Petunia and Geranium (Pelargonium).
  • An east facing patio or decking gets plenty of sun. Suitable plant varieties include Felicia, Pansies (Viola), Helichrysum and Petunia.
  • Patio/decking facing west? Your container plants could get quite a lot of wind so you need sturdy plants like Buxus (Box), Cyclamen, sempervivum (house leek), Heather, Bamboo and Osteospermum (Spanish Daisy).
  • North facing patios or decking have a lot of shade so need shade loving plants like Gaultheria, Hosta, Ferns, Rhododendron and Ivy. Fuchsia, Astilbe, Hydrangea and Busy Lizzies are also sure to bloom in shady areas.

Using flower bulbs together with container plants

You could try using flower bulbs with container plants to give some extra colour on your patio or decking. Flower bulbs are ideal for potting up in all different containers and many bulbs will be in flower early in the season, giving you a beautiful colourful patio or decking from March onwards. Plant spring flowering bulbs in autumn and summer flowering bulbs in the spring and use fresh potting soil. Plant colourful, winter flowering pansies above your already planted bulbs in the autumn to give the flower pots colour over winter. Early flowering bulbs will then shoot up in the spring between the pansies. So attractive, a veritable oasis of flowers on your patio or decking!

Container plants in all sorts of pots and planters

It’s not only the plant but the plant pot or container you use that help to create a certain look on your patio or decking. has an extensive selection of attractive outdoor pots and planters. You can keep things looking harmonious by matching the colours and varieties in tune with the style of your garden, and even your interior. How to plant up your pots? Follow these steps as we explain clearly how best to pot your container plants into nice planters:

It’s best to use a big outdoor planter to allow your container plants to develop to their potential.
The planter must have holes in the base to allow excess water to drain away.
Cover the holes with a layer of gravel or hydro-pellets.
Always use fresh potting compost as this contains sufficient fertiliser for your plants for a while.
Put the roots of your plants at the correct depth in the pot, fill up with more potting compost and press down firmly but carefully.
Water generously immediately after planting.

Hanging baskets on your patio or decking

Plant up a hanging basket with container type plants for a spectacular result on your patio or decking. Try a lovely mix of flowering and leafy hanging plants. Climbers are handy and do well in baskets – such as Ivy (Hedera) and Rhodochiton (purple bell vine). Climbing plants in a hanging basket are perfect as they cascade decoratively over the edge of the basket. You have so many options when setting up a hanging basket in spring with container plants and the basket will soon be transformed into a colourful ball of blooms. There are some plants that look fabulous in hanging baskets right into the autumn – so enjoyable! Hang the basket(s) from a pergola, or a special stand or wall bracket in a prominent spot in full sun.

Make your own hanging basket!

  1. Line the hanging basket with coconut fibre matting, moss or perhaps even large leaves from for example a hosta, or rhubarb.
  2. Place a plastic carrier bag with small holes in the bottom of the basket to prevent too much water from draining away.
  3. Half fill the basket with potting compost.
  4. Choose patio plants with a small pot size and plant them horizontally around the edge, so that they hang over the edge of the hanging basket.
  5. Add more potting compost around the plants, then plant the remaining plants in the top of the basket
  6. Water your hanging basket(s) regularly and generously. Feed them every other week with liquid plant food for flowering plants added to the watering can.
  7. Regular deadheading will encourage more flowers to grow.

Some container plants are ideal for hanging baskets –for example, Bacopa (Water Hyssop), hanging begonia (Begonia pendula), blue rock bindweed (Convolvulus sabatius), Fuchsia, Ivy (Hedera helix) Sweet Pea (Lathyrus), hanging Geranium (Pelargonium), Petunia, horned violet (Viola cornuta) and Verbena.

Tip: Stand your basket during planting, on a bucket or large plant pot to keep it from tipping over. If there’s any chance of frost after planting up in spring, hang the basket temporarily in a frost-free area.

Vertical gardening using container plants

No space for outdoors pots or planters? Or do you like to see a lot of greenery on your patio or decking? Then perhaps ‘vertical gardening’ is something for you to consider!

It really is a great idea for the smaller garden, patios and decking –and covers less attractive walls or fences. Your patio or decking will look much greener without it taking up too much space! Use a special ‘vertical gardening system’ to make it easy. You can hang this system on practically every vertical surface. It's important to keep the soil sufficiently moist as a vertical garden tends to dry out faster. A system with built in irrigation is just the thing! In spring you can set up your vertical garden with plants or seeds of Petunia, Verbena, Busy Lizzy (Impatiens) Bacopa (water Hyssop) and hanging Geraniums (Pelargoniums). Use decorative leafy plants such as Ivy (Hedera) and Heuchera – they look wonderful in a vertical garden.
Want to make your own vertical garden? If you’re handy at DIY, you can make your own vertical garden with empty 2L cola bottles, simple lengths of wire netting or, a wooden pallet or two. There are lots of great ideas out there!

Tip: You could also make a vertical planter, using a discarded wooden pallet.

Caring for your container plants

Container plants will thrive if you look after them properly – they will flower more abundantly, and for longer. Ask yourself, ‘what does this plant need?’ Does it like a sunny spot, or does it prefer shade? Can this plant handle drought? A container plant in the right place with good care will grow perfectly well in pots, planters or window boxes.

  • Extra fertiliser – Container plants need to perform well in a short space of time. The nutrients in potting compost will be depleted after about a month so it’s important to feed these plants regularly. Use a special container planter fertiliser. Always check the packaging for correct dosage and for how often it is required.
  • Flowers – Snip off overblown flowers at regular intervals to encourage reflowering.
  • Watering – don’t allow the container to dry out and keep watering regularly. An outdoor planter with a good working watering system can help to keep moisture levels up. You could get a handy watering system that will help you water all your container plants – take a look and see if you can find one.

Tip: Pot plants dry out really quickly outdoors in the summer so regular watering is really important. Mind you, soil that is too wet is not conducive to the growth of your plants but ensure good drainage! Sometimes, a few stones, or special ‘feet’, under the pot can really help drainage too.

Watering your plants when you’re away

You obviously don’t take all your plants on holiday with you, so how will they manage while you’re gone? There are some handy automatic watering systems available to buy, which place a drip hose in every outdoor container. A simple computer console and a hygrometer ensure that your plants are sufficiently watered during your absence. You could also use plastic bottles to water each pot, or buy some handy watering cones for just this method – just stand the bottle upside down on the cone. Of course a friendly neighbour, kind enough to water your plants regularly, is also good to have!

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