Expert Kris Collins looks at the best late season performers for extending summer colour.
Vibrant summer displays are what gardening is all about.
Nothing beats a multi-coloured patio display or bedding scheme of summer’s ever-popular petunias, pelargoniums and portulaca.
Sadly, seasonal bedding plants can start to burn out or turn straggly before summer’s end, but there are two simple tricks you can employ to carry the colour through to the first hard frosts of autumn – pruning and planting.
It may seem a harsh step, but hard pruning hanging basket and patio pot plants will give a new lease of life to your displays, if you are prepared to wait a couple of weeks for new growth to flower.
Use secateurs or shears (excuse the rust on mine – left them out in a rain shower!) to cut plants back to around 10 cm. It will look like a harsh haircut for a week or so, but follow the prune with a general-purpose feed and your plants should bounce back within two weeks.
They will be looking fresh and compact and ready to reflower until the autumn frosts set in.
There are many late-season perennials, and even a good few annuals, that can be planted in late summer. These will will continue the colour right through to autumn (and into winter if the frosts aren’t forthcoming).
You have the costly option of replacing all your summer bedding with these varieties, or you can retain the best of your summer bedding and use the late performers to fill the gaps. I’ve treated myself to a full new border scheme using dahlias, coreopsis, gaillardia and rudbeckia – all tough perennials that will soldier on through cool, wet autumn days until frost finally knocks them back.
Kris’s Top 10 Late Season Performers