If you’re wondering what to grow in containers this summer, can I recommend Pelargonium. There’s a wide range of colours and types from classically simple to trailing or bushy and they flower for ages.
Some of my favourites are the scented leaved types. They have smaller flowers and range through lemon, cinammon and chocolate lemon … I know!
A truly gorgeous one is Pelargonium Attar of Roses which is commercially grown for it’s essential oil.
The scented leaves can be used in baking too:
- layer clean dry leaves in a container of sugar
- leave the container in a warm place for 2-3 weeks
- sift out the leaves and use the sugar in cakes, biscuits etc.
Ivy leaved pelargoniums trail and drape, making them perfect for containers or window boxes.
The regal types are probably the easiest to grow, they’re quite bushy and flower all summer long.
They all grow best in full sun, though the regals don’t mind a little shade.
You can see a wide variety of the plants at RHS shows around the country, where specialist nurseries display and sell their plants (though you can’t buy plants at the Chelsea Flower Show).
Looking after them:
Take them inside before the first frost, cut them back to 4in/10cm high and store them in a porch or window-sill where they’ll get plenty of light. Keep the soil just moist, until they start growing again in the spring.
They can go out into the garden again when there’s no more risk of frost. Step up the watering and give them regular doses of potash (Tomorite is easiest) as soon as the flowers appear. Remove spent flowers to encourage more flowers.
As well as being beautiful and useful, keeping them going year after year is a great way to garden, much more environmentally friendly than replacing plants each year.
You can buy them mail order from specialist nurseries such as Fibrex Nursery
all images: Jill Anderson