As May rolls on it is time to start planting annual plants into hanging basket and pots. They are bred to give a big hit of colour throughout the summer, but as the name suggests they only last for one year, or in fact for a couple of seasons as frost will kill them off. Come autumn a second wave of planting with hardy winter pansies or cyclamen will be necessary to keep your display going.
In pursuit of a non-disposable, cheaper and lower maintenance approach I have taken to using perennials in pots instead. The photo shows two in my shady front yard which have been planted now for three years. They aren’t as showy as annual flowers but the choice of contrasting and coloured foliage gives year round interest, and there are aquilegia’s and geraniums which will be in bloom soon.
In window boxes big perennials are cramped, but if you start with mini plants in 7cm pots, they should have space to grow for one season. Then instead of going on the compost you can release them into the wild in your garden or move them onto a bigger pot. I have used heucheras this way and now have several dotted through my back garden making an impact.
For a sunny aspect using alpines and sedums is a great option, you need to add grit 50:50 to the potting compost to be sure of good drainage and then a very occasional weak feed with seaweed. You won’t have to replant in autumn and if the plants spread and it seems crowded, great! Just divide the clumps and plant up another container for free.