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"Go to" annuals & perennials for quick containers

LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,006
Hi all

Being on a budget, I'm struggling to fill up my relativity large beds. They also need another year of soil improver dug in so I'm willing to leave them for another year.

In the meantime though I'd like to add some plants by way of containers. As much as possible I'd like to grow from seed to save cost.

What annuals or perennials can you recommend that will give me results this year and will be happy in pots?

Stuff I already have planned:

Sweet peas

I also sowed foxgloves, lupins and echinacea last year so hopefully I'll have some of that too.

I'm looking to stick to blues, purples, pinks and whites. 

Thanks all.
I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 


  • Definitely lobelia, also petunias. For best results, you'd find a heated propagator useful, to germinate them now, and then pot on and plant out in the second half of April. It's always worth looking at something like Gumtree for this, as people may be selling one or giving it away for a low price.

    The other issue will be compost--if you can't manage sterile seed and potting compost, you'll struggle with your plants rotting off, so that is a good investment even if you go for only hardy plants. In that category, I can recommend Nigella, Lavatera trimestris, lupins (which will more usually flower the following year, but there are ones that will flower this).

    If you find a cheap source of plug plants, things like Bacopa, Nemesia and Felicia flower for ages. I love pelargoniums, though they don't fit your colour scheme--buy one and you can propagate from cuttings subsequently. Osteospermum, Fuchsia and Begonia are also good value for money.

  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,006
    Thanks @Cambridgerose12.

    I think my dad had a propagator he isn't using, I'll steal it!!

    Can you clarify what you mean by managing seed compost? I have half a bag of JI seed compost. I've always found it very "heavy" like soil, do I need to mix a bit of grit into it to improve drainage?

    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • YviestevieYviestevie Posts: 7,050
    Swan river daisies are good for pots and grow easy from seed. 
    Hi from Kingswinford in the West Midlands
  • Heucheras and huecherellas 100%. They come in lots of different colours and are evergreen 🙂
  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,006
    @Yviestevie they look really nice!

    @februarysgirl I've got a couple of those I picked up last year, they aren't looking great at the moment, I hope they pick up!
    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • YviestevieYviestevie Posts: 7,050
    They are @Latimer.  I grow them every year and they flower for ages.  The blue and white mix are especially pretty.

    Hi from Kingswinford in the West Midlands
  • @Latimer The majority of mine are looking absolutely awful at the moment, much more so than previous years! You have to remove the large, older leaves. It's a bit daunting  when all you have left is a few small, new leaves but once it's cut back it'll really take off. It doesn't take long for pruned heucheras to turn into stunners 😊
  • Latimer said:
    I have half a bag of JI seed compost. I've always found it very "heavy" like soil, do I need to mix a bit of grit into it to improve drainage?

    If it's been open longer than a couple of weeks, it'll be no good for sowing seed as it will be full of diseases already. Your best bet is to start from a new unopened bag. JI is fine. The other stuff can be used for more robust plants such as repotting, or just spread on the borders. For potting on your seedlings when they germinate, you can use the rest of the seed compost. It is low in nutrients so when you finally plant out your triumphs, you will need to feed at that point. Being fine-grained, it will also feel dense. But generally speaking container-grown annuals will suffer less from excess water than from drought. Make sure you put broken crocks in the bottom of your containers and you should be fine. 

    PS: I especially recommend the Lavatera trimestris which was wonderful when I grew it--think I got the white variety. 
  • LatimerLatimer Posts: 1,006
    Thanks @Cambridgerose12. If I'm understanding you correctly (and believe me, I'm a bit slow at this sort of thing!) I'll need to keep buying bags of seed compost every couple of weeks, if I want to get sorting throughout the season? 
    I’ve no idea what I’m doing. 
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,450
    You can get Pelargoniums in pinks and whites.  I wouldn't bother buying an electric propagator, I have one have used it indoors and in a greenhouse,found the seeds/seedling dried out really quickly,  lot grew fast, then died.if you have big beds, go for tall plants,pereniels will save you money in the long run, get them cheap at the end of each season, being sold off in places like supermarkets.Aldi and Lidl are a very good placefor good quality plants
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