Whether you love bold shades or prefer muted tones, Adrienne Wild reveals the blooms you should consider

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Ideas for strong bright colours

Imagine how much more inviting a sunny patio will look with containers filled with blooms in the tropical shades of scarlet and orange. To maintain impact, don’t include white and pastel shades as they can dilute what should be a flamboyant display of colour.

Plant list

  • Heat tolerant Begonia boliviensis ‘Santa Cruz Sunset’ has flower-packed trailing stems and gorgeous angel-winged leaves.
  • Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’ produces fiery, almost luminous orange blooms above dark purple-bronze foliage.
  • Helichrysum petiolare ‘Gold’ acts as a bright-coloured foil for the more vibrant flowers.

The simplicity of an old-fashioned cottage border can be created in a pot with a colourful and unruly mix of bee-friendly hardy annuals. To bring in butterflies, choose blue, purple or yellow flowers – and as most hate reds, bear this in mind when planning your displays.

Plant list

  • Big yellow daisies: Sunflowers come in dwarf varieties that are perfect for pots. Look out for ‘Sunspot’, which produces huge single golden flowers on 40cm-tall plants.
  • Smaller orange and yellow daisies: Loved by bees, pot marigolds or Calendula officinalis are valued for their cheery, bright, edible flowers and profuse blooming.
  • Blue flowers: Cornflowers have tall, wiry stems, making it a great gap-filler.
  • Pink daisies: A daisy lookalike, annual cosmos are typically pink, red and white with a contrasting yellow centre.

Make the most of a south-facing hot spot by opting for phormium planted through a bright confection of dazzling, drought-busting blooms. Opt for smaller sizes to suit containers.

Plant list

  •  Phormium tenax ‘Jester’ is wonderfully architectural and brightly variegated pink and orange.
  • Osteospermum asano ‘Super Orange’ blooms right through to the frosts.
  • Pelargonium ‘Rokoko’ buds open to reveal beautiful pink petals.
  • Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline’ is useful for adding texture to a scheme.
  • Bright orange Calibrachoa ‘Crackling Fire’ will set any summer display ablaze.

To fill a large container you need at least three plants. A big, bold plant to form the centre or backbone of the display, a bushy variety that can be used to fill out the centre and a shorter plant to decorate the rim of the pot and preferably hang or trail down.

The above combination will give form and intense colour.

Plant list

  • Dahlias are real ‘thriller’ plants for summer containers.
  • Verbena is ideal for cascading from pots and baskets and the variety ‘Fuego Red’ is a superb fast-growing variety that shows off big clusters of brilliant red flowers.
  • Surfinia ‘Blue Vein’ is unbeatable for its prolific trailing growth and flower power.
  • Calibrachoa ‘Dream Kisses Orange Sunset’ has a compact, semi-trailing habit with vivid blooms above evergreen foliage.

Ideas for soft cool colours

Create a cottage border in a container using modern, compact varieties of traditional ‘old-fashioned’ flowers such as delphiniums and campanula.

Choose a blue colour theme for areas that only shine in the morning sun, using plants such as lobelias or violets.

Plant list

  • Delphinium hybridum ‘Magic Fountains’, a perennial that produces short, sturdy flower spikes packed with blue semi-double blooms.
  • Campanula persicifolia is a classic of the cottage garden, and is excellent for cutting.
  • Campanula portenschlagiana creates spreading mounds of blue – allow it to spill over the rim of the pot.

There’s nothing to stop you mixing flowers and food. Here panicum grass and pink dahlia rub shoulders with the white and pink blooms of osteospermum and nemesia and the edible salad leaves of cos lettuce.

Plant list

  • Dwarf dahlias can thrive in larger pots.
  • The grassy leaves of Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ start off green, then the leaf tips turn red in summer.
  • Cos lettuce produce tall heads of leaves.
  • Osteospermum ‘Glistening White’ lives up to its name when the blooms open daily
  • Fabulously scented, Nemesia ‘Cassis’ produces dusky pink and yellow blooms all summer long, provided it gets two or more hours of sunshine each day.

This architectural arrangement will make a bold statement in a summer pot. It’s a good choice for when creating an all-white garden that will look good from June to September.

Plant list

  • Astelia chathamica ‘Silver Shadow’ has pointed, spear-shaped leaves that look as if they’ve been dusted with silver. For impact, put the pot on a plinth to add height to a flower bed or use two specimens to flank a doorway.
  • White pansies will make a container shine in shade and glow in the dark – especially when there is a full moon. They also look stunning when backlit by the setting sun, so think about position when planning your displays.