How to plant pots so your flowers can bloom all year round

Now that most of us are dedicated plant parents and avid gardeners, it’s important to learn how to plant them properly in pots so that flowers can bloom year-round.

On balconies, awkward side roads, or paved courtyards, containers are closest to flower beds. I treat them pretty much the same as I do now with my garden beds, and I expect nothing less from either: color, interest, and texture all year long. If anything, the pots last winter looked better than the shy perennials hiding at the edges of the lawn.

Do the right planting and you will be endlessly surprised by the pots that get much less attention than the rest of the garden. These reliable, long-planted containers are my gardening equivalents for my old friends, whose houses can be rocked in a tracksuit with a bag of Doritos and the movie Bake Off is to be claimed. No wonder I’ve worn them in three different apartments and countless stairwells over the past five years.

If this sounds like you, read on and find out how to plant pots for optimal flowering.

Building foundations

Start by examining your place of production thoroughly and thoroughly. None of the balconies were large, but each had a handful of different aspects: morning sun, afternoon sun, rain shade (where the top deck keeps things dry), and deep shade. It can be grown in all of them, but it’s important to understand these limitations before you start buying plants.

The wind can also affect roof gardens and taller balconies and should not be ignored – it dries out and makes the meat of finer, sheltered plants.

However, if you work in a corner of a brick wall, the temperature will be higher than elsewhere on the plot. Be honest with yourself about how much sunshine your field actually gets. Partial shading provides three to six hours of strong direct daylight in summer; the full shadow is anything else. If you have a completely free space, this is also worth noting.

These conditions help to steer the plant palette toward the beginning. It can help to compare wildlife situations: the beach and dry gardens, for example, are great for open roof terraces (if this is you, I highly recommend visiting Derek Jarman’s Garden at Prospect Cottage and then Beth’s Chatto Pebble Garden).

In contrast, I delved deep into the afforestation as I tried to figure out what would prosper on my shady balcony.

To make a container look good all year round, you will need hard-working perennials. In faux woodland conditions, ferns, heucheras, finches and of course plectranthus are my favorites.

But if you are blessed with more sunshine, the grass, sod and artemisia will come in handy as well. Find something that will be in the mail for most of the year: flowering is a bonus and fun at the same time, but with the beauty of the foliage you can continue to enjoy the pots.


These larger plants will also need something that sits flush with the top of the pot, or better yet, again for most of the year. The little amber, muehlenbeckia, soleirolia soleirolii (aka: think of your own business) and even the amber toad and herb robert do the job perfectly, and their root system isn’t too intrusive either.

A mixture of these two plant categories would do the job well, but seasonal perennials lurking beneath the surface and popping up for a season or two will add to the excitement.

I like hosts, persiacs like ‘Red Dragon’ and ‘Purple Fantasy’ and Oxalis triangularis ‘Purpleleaf False Shamrock’, but I’ve also played angelica and lamium in the past. They are all shade tolerant, but the Erigeron karvinskianus ‘Lavender Lady’ fennel and the crumb can be gorgeous in sunnier places.

I also put light bulbs in this category: tiny fanfare in the darkest days.

My evergreen pots are also gifted by occasional visitors: muscari, Ipheion uniflorum ‘Froyle Mill’, iris, fritillaria and dwarf daffodils – the current favorite is ‘Pheasant Eyes’ – which don’t upset the balance of things. But if there is less vegetation in the winter, go wild with tulips and narcissus; nothing rejoices better on less sunny days.

Top dress

Finally an annual. If you have a place or want a novelty of a new color, sowing some seeds – ideal for things that don’t take full power, such as nasturium and viola – can toss up pots. As well as popping up some corked plants from the catalog. In sunnier places, overwintering geraniums can be a brilliant source of fragrance and interest.

The amount of each plant depends on the size of the container, but adhering to the plant palette creates a greater lush feeling. I stick to a handful of plants and repeat them in all my containers so the effect will be more cohesive in every corner of the garden. In a smaller place, this is even more important.

As far as suitable containers are concerned, I strongly recommend that you take the largest container that is allowed and / or placed, and ideally not less than 40 cm in diameter – these can be planted perennials but will dry out sooner.

When it comes to maintenance, I seriously thought about the Doritos-Bake Off set: get the right plant palette and you’ll be happy with minimal effort. Finish and cut off the crispy pieces, water them thoroughly in dry weather, and give plenty of ground cover in late fall and spring as well; a thick layer of organic compost will do.

His biggest enemy will be the grape weevil, which loves to lurk around containers: watch out for the telltale gnawing of the leaves and use nematodes to keep them away organically.

Container combinations for different aspects that can be used all year round

Full shadow

Ferns (Penlan Perennials makes brilliant peat-free combinations)


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