Do you find watering the summer garden time consuming? With British summers getting hotter and drier, drought tolerant plants are the answer to growing a beautiful garden that can withstand the summer heat.
What are drought resistant plants?
Drought tolerant plants are specific varieties that are suitable for planting in dry conditions. They are perfect for planting in bright, sunny spots in the garden. Many drought tolerant plants have silver or grey-green leaves, their light leaf colour reflecting the harsh rays of the sun. Some have a coating of fine hairs on their leaves or stems, helping to trap moisture around the plant tissues.
Check out our favourite drought tolerant plants that will best adapt to the prolonged dry season.
Finding plants that can thrive in shade can be tricky, but there are plenty of beautiful options available. Instead of you searching the internet for shaded plants, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a selection of our favourite shade-loving plants.
From colourful bloomers to fresh foliage, discover our top five plants to brighten up those difficult shaded corners of the summer garden.
Many Viburnums are perfect for shady spots. They’re great for wildlife, produce gorgeous flowers and fruit and make a fantastic focal point in beds and borders.
2. Hardy Fuchsias
HardyFuchsiasare a hanging basket staple in the summertime. Their elegant drooping blooms brighten up baskets and window boxes, and thankfully, they can be planted in shade! Since they don’t like too much heat, these tender perennials can be placed in partial/full shade.
These fabulous shade-tolerant beauties are some of the best-kept secrets in the garden. You can easily set a shady spot alight with colour by planting bright and beautiful Heucheras. What’s more, these foliage plants perform all year round too, making them a magnificent choice for so many spots in the garden.
Can Hydrangeas grow in shade? Absolutely. In fact, many of the most common varieties of these bright and beautiful shrubs, like mophead and lacecap, are perfect for shaded environments.
Ornamental foliage plants have become a big trend in modern gardens. Low maintenance and high performing, they add bring a fresh and natural look to the summer garden. Ferns thrive in the shade, so they’re the perfect plants for growing fantastic displays in pots and borders.
With the new year approaching we can look forward to warmer weather and new growth appearing in our gardens, and now is the perfect time to be thinking of your summer display. Summer-flowering bulbs add an injection of colour to any garden and make for eye-catching borders and displays. Whilst often planted out in spring, many bulbs are suited to being planted as early as February. Be one step ahead and take inspiration from our selection below of Must-Have Flowers for 2020!
Summer Flower Top-Picks:
Lilies add a touch of the exotic to the garden, and their large, brightly coloured heads are bound to attract the eye. These flowers are a striking addition to pots and borders and provide a beautiful scent. Planting time is December to April.
Begonias are extremely popular for their versatility and reliability. From hanging baskets and window boxes to borders and pots, these colourful favourites are a centerpiece in the garden. Planting time is from February onwards.
Gladioli are a classic flower which have added excitement to summer displays for generations. Available in an array of bright and bold colours, they are often referred to as the ‘sword lily’ for their blade-shaped foliage. Planting time is early March to May.
Eucomis descend from South Africa and have an unusual pineapple shape. Their long-lasting flowers and attractive foliage are an exotic feature point of borders, pots and flowerbeds. Planting time is from February, if into pots and containers.
The general rule for planting bulbs is to dig deeper than the obvious. The usual guide is two to three times the depth of the bulb itself, however you will do less harm by planting too deep than too shallow. The other general rule is that bulbs need good drainage. The best way to achieve this is to mix grit into the general area or container of planting.
Many summer bulbs are ideal for growing in patio containers, especially tender species. These can then be lifted in winter and stored.
Step by Step:
Planting in borders:
Dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulbs. Most bulbs require planting in a hole two to three times their depth.
Place the bulbs in the hole with their shoot facing upwards. Space them at least twice the bulb’s own width apart.
Replace the soil and gently firm. Avoid treading on the soil as this can damage the bulbs.
Planting in containers:
Dig a hole three times the bub depth, and plant the bulbs one width apart.
Water bulbs once after planting then regularly when in active growth. Reduce watering once the leaves die down through the dormant season.
If you bring pots of hardy bulbs indoors for flowering, put them in a sheltered spot outside as soon as flowering is over.
Looking for more information on planting our bulbs? Below you can find a selection of videos from our resident plant expert Jeff Turner explaining how best to plant your Summer Bulbs.
Fuchsias, with their fairy-like blooms hanging from rich, green foliage have long been a popular staple in the British summer garden. In fact, the popularity of the Fuchsia is such that there is even a national society for them, The British Fuchsia Society. They are easy to grow and maintain, plus they provide brightly coloured summer to autumn displays in hanging baskets, containers or patio pots.
Why choose Fuchsia:
Fuchsia have a great many attributes, the greatest among them being that once planted and established they can thrive in the British climate for years with minimal amount of care, here are a few more reasons why the Fuchsia is so popular:
Approximately 2,000 varieties of Fuchsia in the UK which come in a range of sizes and colour combinations
You don’t need many plug plants to achieve a fulsome and vibrant display
They are prolific flowering and will bloom from summer through to autumn in partially shaded locations or in full sun
Their pendulous blooms are perfect in trailing hanging baskets, containers and in patio pots
Climbing Fuchsias can cover arches and trellis’s easily, they can even be used to disguise unsightly fences or sheds
Types of Fuchsia:
Fuchsia are usually grouped into three categories: hardy, upright or trailing. A common trait to all types of Fuchsia is how the pendulous flower-heads will bloom with the outer petal peeling back to reveal the inner petals, formed in a bell-like shape. Often the colour or shade of the outer petals will be different the inner ones; giving the blooms their fairy-like appearance. Fuchsia come in a range of sizes and colours: pinks, purples, whites red and oranges in all manner of shades and combinations.
A range of bushy and, as implied, hardy varieties. Once established they can be left to the British weather all year round. However, it worth considering which part of the UK you are based in. Sub-tropical Cornwall’s Fuchsias will certainly have no issues, but it may well be worth covering up or taking more Northern based Fuchsia’s inside during frosty spells. Pinch the new shoots to encourage bushy and profuse flowering.
Upright, Bush or climbing Fuchsias can be trained into wonderful shapes. They look particularly effective when trained over an archway. The beautiful, often pendant-shaped flowers are a delight coming in in shades of pink, white and purple. Our bedding range of Fuchsia plants includes upright varieties that are ideal for pots, containers and the summer border as well as some amazing climbing Fuchsias.
This variety of Fuchsia is perfect for hanging basket displays and in potted displays, trailing elegantly over hanging the edges. This type is more sensitive to frosts and should be brought in during cold weather snaps. You can even get a giant variety of trailing Fuchsia which look especially effective with their ample, larger sized pendulous flower-heads.
These vigorous hardy climbing Fuchsias produce abundant flowers along upright climbing stems throughout the summer through to October. With a little support they will rapidly climb up arches, fences and trellis and are ideal for large pots or containers on the patio.
Plant your Hardy Fuchsias in spring or autumn. Other varieties should be planted once all danger of frosts has passed in early to mid spring.
We recommended using John Innes No2 compost when planting up your Fuchsia, avoid composts that are too peaty. In pots or baskets, three plugs will give an ample and effective display. The compost doesn’t need to be tightly compacted in your chosen container, Fuchsia do well with good drainage. If planting in a border display, space 30-40 cm apart.
Once planted, water once a week. Take care to keep them moist but not waterlogged. Start by feeding them once a week. To encourage more blooms on your Fuchsia, feed with a high potash liquid feed and dead head fading flowers regularly.
Fuchsia can be placed in a partially shaded or sunny location; however, they will appreciate partial shade during in the heat of the day during the summer months.
It’s worth checking your Fuchsias over for pests and insects. The Fuchsia gall mite is one to keep an eye out for. Although the pest is not frequently or widely reported in the UK, the past ten years has seen this Fuchsia munching pest in gardens along the south coast and in some northern counties too. A little vigilance goes a long way in deterring the mite and harsh chemical treatments are not necessary. Simply check over your Fuchsia, remove and burn any damaged shoots, especially if they appear a yellowish-green or swollen and distorted.
Prune back in spring just before new growths appear. With Hardy Fuchsia it’s best to prune back to ground level.
Dahlias have become a very fashionable and valuable summer flowering plant, that will work perfectly with almost all types of plants. They compliment any garden wonderfully regardless of size and can be incorporated into a border or into patio pot/container displays.
Named after the famous 18th Century botanist Anders Dahl, Dahlia plants have been around for many years and are all our Dahlias are supplied as top quality dormant tubers which can be planted straight into the place where they are bloom (their final location). Success rate from these dahlia tubers is extremely high and they are a relatively inexpensive way to create a large number of flowers from one tuber.
Benefits of Planting Dahlias:
1. They are easy to grow, and suitable for gardeners of all skill levels. They are fast growing by their nature and will flower in the first year and for many years to come (just keep them stored and frost free over the winter).
2. They are versatile and will tolerate most types of well drained, fertile soil or compost. They can be grown successfully in pots, tubs, window boxes and in borders.
3. They are one of our favourite summer bulbs because of the many different types/sizes/colours available, which all look slightly different in shape, but are all equal in beauty.
4. Year after year sees many new exciting new varieties introduced which means once hooked on Dahlias, you will continually be able to find and try something new.
5. They flower continuously through the summer, right up until the first frost of the autumn.
6. They look fantastic as cut flowers and are great for lovers of something a little different.
Types of Dahlias to try Growing this Year
The main types of Dahlias available can be classified into a number of different categories, representing the main characteristics of the flower blooms themselves.
Anemone Flowering – Sometimes referred to as Powder Puff Dahlias, these beauties produce unique flowers with double feathered central petals resembling a Powder Puff.
Cactus – A favourite for many years, Cactus Dahlias produce fully double pointed petals which turn backwards to create a tubular petal effect. Sometimes referred to as Spiky Dahlias, they are perfect for the border.
Dark Leaf – These Dahlias are a little different in that their foliage is not the usual green colours of most varieties. They create an abundance of flowers through the summer as expected, however the blooms appear on darker (usually purple/black) foliage.
Decorative – The largest range of large, fully double flowers with rounded petals through the summer right up until the first frosts. They produce masses of flowers for cutting purposes.
Dwarf Gallery – A range of smaller, more petite Dahlias which are perfect for the front of the border.They are prolific flowering varieties, look also great planted mixed together in pots on the patio.
Dinner Plate – As the name suggests these are the largest flowers within the range, often up to as much as 25cm in diameter (see illustration below). Try these as cut flowers and be certain to draw attention.
Pompom – Love the unusual? Then these are certainly for you. Almost spherical flowers (like balls) appear through the summer. The petals have rounded tips and are curved upwards at the edges. The flower heads are also slightly flattened towards the centre.
How to Grow Dahlia plants in pots or containers
A fantastic way to brighten up your patio is to introduce some Dahlias in pots/containers. The colour range is fantastic, with many unusual bi-colour varieties which will brighten up any space. Simply beautiful to sit back and look at during a warm summer afternoon. Supplied as tubers (as illustrated).
1. Once your tubers arrive safely in the post, they can be soaked overnight in a bucket of water to soak up as much moisture as possible.
When all signs of frost have passed they are ready to pot up, giving plenty of time to get well established before the summer.
2. It is recommended to place some pebbles at the bottom of the pots before adding the compost to help with drainage, by ensuring the compost doesn’t block the drainage holes. Fill in some compost and then add the tuber with the growing tip facing upwards. Continue to fill in the rest of the compost to firmly hold the tuber, making sure the growing tip at the top is peeping out and is not completely covered. This is now ready to be moved to the patio or garden area, with access to as much sun as possible.
3. Water well after potting and then keep compost moist but not waterlogged as tubers will rot. You can add a liquid feed weekly during the growing season and provide some protection from slugs as they really love Dahlias.
4. If growing tall varieties, insert a cane to help with growth and to keep secure.
5. Little pruning is needed on Dahlias, however you can deadhead as flowers begin to fade.