Begonias – ‘the’ plant for summertime

Begonia NonStop
Begonia NonStop

As is so often the case each year at this time, containers that are planted up with pansies, violas and bellis (double daisies) are still providing plenty of colour and it is a thought to remove them to make way for summer flowers.

Nevertheless, it has to be done, they may be blooming their heads off now but won’t last throughout the summer. It’s time for something else.

For all manner of containers, patio pots, hanging baskets and window boxes, ‘the’ plant for summer are begonias, especially the NonStop varieties that have the large blooms on compact plants and, of course, b.semperflorens, the ones with small single flowers in clusters and trailing begonias such as Illuminations and Apricot Shades.

There are also the well tried favourites such as geraniums, French marigolds, lobelia and alyssum. To add ‘height’ and planted in the centre of a pot, a geranium is ideal, especially a variegated variety and a cordyline is superb for this position, the bronze-leaved variety giving contrast and tropical look.

With any plantings in containers it is best to ‘soften’ the edges with some trailing types and usually it is a cascading lobelia that is first choice and coming in various shades of blue, this will give added contrast.

A super companion to the bold colours of begonias is cineraria maritima. This silvery-white foliage plant can be used as an edging, mixed with begonias or as ‘dot’ plants in a display. C. Silverdust has deeply cut fern-like foliage and C. Cirrhus has serrated oval leaves.

Ageratum with its blue powder-puff-like clusters, alyssum and brush-type lobelia are the ones to choose for edging of beds and borders in contrast to the reds, oranges and yellows of begonias, geraniums and French marigolds.

Becoming more popular as a trailing plant for containers are ivies, especially the variegated varieties. They are easily recognised, however, the label could read ‘hedera’, their proper name. The bonus with ivy is they are perennial and evergreen and can remain in the container when it comes to removing summer flowers and replacing with bulbs, pansies, violas and polyanthus in the autumn.