Fresh air living

With Covid not seeming to go away anytime soon, the safest way to entertain family and friends is outdoors on the patio. Why not plant up containers to provide bright pops of colour and fragrance?

Like any other room in the house, outdoor living areas need refreshing from time to time. Flower-filled containers, even edibles, can be moved in and out to change the look.  It’s like using scatter cushions because you just need a few to do the job. Here are a few pointers:

  • Check out the sunshine and shade, that your patio receives. Then select the plants that will do best. Flowering plants, like Alstroemeria ‘Inticancha’ (above) or patio edibles, thrive with morning sun and afternoon shade. Shade lovers, like impatiens or fuchsia, don’t mind some morning sun or dappled sunlight throughout the day. Succulents may be the best option for a very hot and sunny patio.
  • Find out the water requirements of each plant so that you can set up a watering and feeding schedule. For healthy container plants, regular watering and feeding once a month (at least) with a liquid fertiliser is essential. In very hot weather, container plants may need to be watered every day or every second day, but much less as it gets cooler.
  • Don’t let the plants stand in water. If they are in saucers, put a layer of pebbles in the saucers so that the pot stands on the pebbles, keeping the roots away from the water. Waterlogged roots tend to rot.

Patio sun-lovers

Dipladenia Diamantina

The Dipladenia Diamantina® collection offers ever blooming plants that suit a wide range of possibilities: hanging baskets, planters, large containers and for trellises. ‘Tourmaline’ is a compact and very floriferous variety with large star-shaped soft pink  flowers. ‘Jade’ is a semi-compact grower that also works in planters and containers, having a looser growth. For height, especially to train up a trellis, there is Opale, which can also be grown in large hanging baskets. Being tender perennials, they need a sheltered, warm area in winter.

Lavandula ‘Primavera’

Fragrance is always a winner, especially when guests can reach over and rub the fragment leaves. Lavandula ‘Primavera’ is a stoechas variety, also known as Spanish lavender, that is topped with burgundy flags above the small purple flowers, that attract butterflies. What sets it apart from other spring-flowering stoechas is that this lavender flowers from summer through to autumn. It is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that should not be over watered and needs to drain well. Cut off the spent flowers to encourage new blooms. It is a compact, upright grower which makes it particularly suitable for patios.

Easy edibles

Why not let guests pick their own salad leaves and edible flowers? Adding edibles to the patio collection will always be a talking point. It can be as simple as this planter with a variety of loose-leaf lettuce and edible pansy flowers, or potted herbs like basil, parsley, thyme and coriander. There is even a range of Simply Delicious patio veggies that are compact growers with large yields of smaller fruit, like Patio Snacker Cucumber, Eggplant Patio Baby and a huge variety of cherry tomatoes. Veggies, in particular, need regular watering and feeding. Regular picking as well to encourage them to produce new leaves and more fruit.

From sun to shade

Sunpatiens and sun coleus

Sunpatiens is one of those amazing plants that grows equally well in full sun or semi-shade. Granted, it needs more water if positioned for sun. The sun coleus varieties, like the lime green Salsa Verde (front ), and ‘Flame Thrower’ are good companions for a mixed container as their leaf colours intensify in the sun. All three need regular watering, feeding once a month and don’t mind being trimmed to keep them in shape.

Fuchsia Bella


Fuchsia ‘Bella’ was bred for patio living. It is a compact-growing pot fuchsia with gorgeous two-tone flowers that are carried throughout summer. There are nine different varieties, all with distinctive colours. They like bright shade and can take some morning sun. Water regularly, so that the soil remains moist but not soggy. Plants don’t like to stand in water. Pour water directly into the pot, early in the morning or late in the evening. Feed with a liquid fertiliser once every two weeks and remove faded flowers to encourage new flowers.

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