Begin with Begonias for the summer

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Colour in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes, beds and borders for the summer can be provided by a host of plants and arguably the best are begonias.

They come in a range of colours and types, the latter for certain plantings and though they are particularly good in partial shade, they will grow quite well in full sun.

As there are various types some explanation is probably required for those people not familiar with the different growing habits.

Begonia semperflorens are probably the most popular, with the NonStop varieties a very close second. The former are in the fibrous-rooted range. That is, there is no tuber, the plants having a root system like other summer flowers.

The flowers are about one-inch across and are borne in clusters and though they can be purchased in separate colours, they are visually available as mixed colours of red, pink and white. Varieties range in height from 6-10 inches and the flowers are complemented by glossy green foliage or the more contrasting bronze leaves.

Begonia semperflorens are suitable for any type of container, as well as beds and borders, and are discarded at the end of the season.

The type that produce huge blooms of up to four inches across and grow up to 12 inches in height are for individual pots in the greenhouse by the specialist showman - not for the amateur and certainly not for garden displays.

Fast becoming very popular are the NonStop varieties for bedding and patio containers as they have the combination of large heads yet are compact in habit. They are available in the usual begonia colours of red, yellow, white and orange, grow 6-10 inches tall and flowers some two inches across.

For hanging baskets and window boxes the pendula types are the ones to look for because of their trailing habit. Apricot Shades is the no.1 varierty for this, coming in a colour range just as the name suggests.

Sweet peas are one of the summer’s popular flowers provided a suitable means of support can be set up. The showman will train and pinch out unwanted shoots and tendrils to produce the desired extra-long stems. The general grower just wants plenty of flowers for cutting and should allow the plants to climb at will.

However, when planting, pinch out the centre to get a bushy plant rather than just a single stem.