George says: Plant patio pots and window boxes
There's nothing that lifts the spirits more than seeing window boxes and tubs overflowing with colourful flowers in summer. There's an art to creating a fantastic display, but it's not complicated - it just requires a bit of commitment and planning.
In ordinary times, I would always use John Innes No 3 for planting containers, because it has so much more "oomph" than normal multipurpose compost. As we all know, compost is difficult to get hold of at the moment, so if you can get your hands on some well-rotted farmyard manure, mix that in with multipurpose. It won't do exactly the same job, because JINo3 is soil-based, so hangs onto its nutrients longer. However, it will help feed the plants and it will also help the compost to use water more efficiently. Here's George's advice.
For a glorious show of colour for the summer, my preference is to plant with annuals and geraniums, for bold displays.
1 The compost for both window boxes and patio tubs should be John Innes No 3. By using this compost, which has a high fertilizer content, you will sustain hardy growth and an abundance of flowers.
2 If you use small shrubs, they are heavy rooted, and absorb the nutrients from the compost very quickly. This will starve your annuals, so not recommended.
3 When using geraniums my preference is for the zonal type named varieties with the double flowers. These do better in bad weather, and the flowers will not shatter as happens with single varieties.
4 Single varieties are not really suitable for tubs or flower boxes. When the plants have flowered, it’s difficult to get a second flush of flowers.
5 Ivy geraniums are much better for window boxes. They throw out an abundance of colourful flowers throughout the summer on strong stems, plus there are many colours available.
6 Once the plants begin to flower, start to liquid-feed with a high nitrogen-based product following the instructions on the label. This should be carried out twice a week to maximise continued flowering of all the plants.
7 Dead heading is important to give a glowing floral display. With zonal geraniums, pick out the eyes which have flowered, then when the whole bloom has finished flowering, break off at the stem.
8 There are many annuals that you can use. Among the most popular are Surfinia petunias, begonias of different species, fuchsias – both trailing and upright, Calibrachoa Million Bells and bacopa, which comes in blue and white.
9 Extra watering is necessary in warm weather, when plants are flowering and well established.
For a wonderful display, the preference is to plant one type of species in each container to give a massive show of colour.