Spiky Containers for Summer

Plant a beautiful, spiky container and easily liven up your patio for summer.

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Pot with Variety of Colors and TexturesEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - Simple Steps to Success: Containers for Patios © 2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

A large, lively scheme that builds up in levels, from the cushions of blue lobelia up to the light blue salvia on stiffer, upright stems, and on to the higher, arching flashy orange-red crocosmia. These are all set against the bold, spiky cordyline, with its leaves like octopus tentacles rising up and over the pot. The mix of straight lines and informality at the base makes this display a good candidate for most situations, especially those demanding an eye-catching feature or focal point with plenty of presence.

The scheme kicks off in early summer with the lobelia, and is followed by the salvia, but it goes into overdrive when the crocosmia starts flowering in late summer. Crocosmias rarely feature in pot plant displays, which is a shame because they inject considerable impact.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 x Cordyline australis 'Sundance'
  • 2 x Crocosmia 'Bressingham Blaze'
  • 3 x Salvia patens 'Cambridge Blue'
  • 4 x Lobelia (blue)

Planting and Aftercare

Container basics:
Size Approx. 18-in- (45-cm-) diameter, 18-in- (45-cm-) tall terra-cotta pot
Suits Formal or informal situations
Potting mix Multipurpose potting mix
Site Full sun or light shade

None of the plants pose any problems. The cordyline, salvia, and crocosmia are frost-hardy, which means the pot needs some protection over winter to avoid the prolonged freezing temperatures and heavy rain, while the annual lobelia can be discarded in winter and replaced in late spring. The crocosmia will need to be pried out (best done when repotting) every couple of years for permanent planting in a sheltered part of the garden, otherwise it will take over the scheme.

Plant Specifics

Cordyline australis 'Sundance' (Image 1)
Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites, Moist soil, Well-drained soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Crocosmia 'Bressingham Blaze' (Image 2)
Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites, Moist soil, Well-drained soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Lobelia (blue) (Image 3)
Plants that need protection from frost over winter, Moist soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Salvia patens 'Cambridge Blue' (Image 4)
Plants that survive outside in mild regions or sheltered sites, Moist soil, Well-drained soil, Full sun, Partial or dappled shade

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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