Hanging baskets are a major part of the English garden – not just in summer but throughout the bleaker months when they can be filled with colourful small-leaved ivies or packed with winter-flowering pansies.
They’re patches of perfect colour guaranteed to bring lift the gloom, although in windy conditions they need to be anchored securely.
And they do need to be cared for. Plant them and then leave them and they will soon become pockets of dead and dying plants interspaced with weeds.
So, regular watering (despite any torrential rain) and feeding are essential to keep hanging baskets and decorative patio containers looking good.
And find time to pick over containers to remove dead flowerheads. This will encourage more blooms and prolong the seasonal show.
Similarly, don’t be frightened of cutting back any long, trailing plant material which is showing bare flowerless patches. Some petunias and nasturtiums are inclined to go on the rampage but they can be cut back quite hard without harming the plants.
Despite the deluges of our wonderful summers, it’s likely that most gardeners will have to water regularly, so feeding containers once a week with something like the hose-end Miracle-Gro Liquafeed system could help.
It’s a relatively quick and convenient way of getting the food to where it matters, but the more traditional of gardeners can still dissolve the blue crystals in a watering can and wet the compost.
A hose-end feeding system also allows you to treat a whole garden in just a few minutes. Just fit the feeder to the end of a hose and screw in a bottle of concentrated plant food. You can then simply water your garden and decide when to add the nutrients to feed your plants over the leaves and around the roots. It dissolves the right amount automatically.
Alternatively, remove the need to feed regularly by using slow-release plant food granules. They look like tiny, tiny eggs, but once popped into the compost, they start to break down, providing nutrients for anything up to three months. They’re a real boon for the forgetful or busy gardener.
Of course, you can just water regularly and add a liquid feed once a week – Phostrogen is still a big favourite; it’s easy to use and does the job.