Langley gardening: Container options provide lasting colour

When container spring bulbs are over and stored away or planted out in the garden, the vacant pots they left are a chance for a heart-gladdening display of colourful summer bulbs and tubers.

Some, such as begonias and dahlias flower repeatedly once they start while others such as acidanthera and Pineapple Lily keep blooming for many weeks.

Agapanthus is not outstandingly long-flowered at first, but its usually blue blooms are spectacular and their tall seedheads are pretty in winter vases.

When it’s kept happy with rich feeding, water and bonemeal, its tubers increase into large masses which in time produce masses of blooms. Agapanthus is well-suited to containers because it well-tolerates being potbound. But all the evergreen kinds are tender, and should be taken inside for winter.

There are hardier deciduous amaryllis but the variety I grew was much smaller than evergreen amaryllis but hardy overwinter in zone 7. My experience was with Cally Hardy mix (seed from www.chilternseeds.co.uk).

Containers are very suitable for slug-prone plants because it’s easy to wrap some copper slug tape around the pot, and they’re safe for a couple of seasons. That’s why aside from their huge range of colours and shapes, the smaller type containerized dahlias are carefree as well as gladsome once they start blooming.

But big dahlias like the dinner-plate varieties do tend to drape their leaves down the sides unless you imprison them with tomato cages.

Like agapanthus, dahlias enjoy a sunny spot and love soil amended with compost or low-nitrogen fertilizer. They need a lot of water, too, especially since containers tend to dry out quickly. Given this, the tubers enlarge into very impressive clumps quite fast.

The colours and shapes of dahlias are incredibly varied from solid reds, yellows, whites and pinks to very busy mixes and matches like yellow-tipped reds or apricot and pink blushes and ones that shout across a garden such as the blood-red wine and white of the dinner-plate dahlia ‘Tartan’.

People challenged by containers in shady places will find begonias the ideal plant for their situation. Begonias need shade. You’ll be advised to start your begonia several weeks before frost. That’s good advice – when you’re dealing with a begonia that’s already a long-time friend.

But when you’re going to acquire a new begonia, it’s useful to choose one already in flower so that you avoid colour surprises. That’s because when treated well, begonias are a very long-lived plant which can be stored year after year, encouraged to sprout early and after frost put back in its summer home.

Begonias always spring late into flower, but after that they don’t stop until frost.

Callas are more popular each year now that they’re appearing in a variety of colours. Also people have discovered this plant’s love for shade. They also love moisture and protection in winter. The coloured callas are especially tender.

There is a larger, sturdier white-flowered calla which can be hardy on the Coast in a warm, sheltered place.

One easy and inexpensive summer bulb is acidanthera. It looks like a white narcissus with a splashy wine-red throat, is hugely fragrant and flowers for ages. During winter corms can be stored in mesh bags like narcissus.

Just Posted

Odd Thoughts: History value-added… or subtracted

Langley columnist Bob Groeneveld looks at the numbers of history.

Five wins in a row for the TWU hockey Spartans

Langley university men’s hockey team will put their streak on the line when they play Selkirk

Two Langley affordable housing projects get provincial funding

First phase of $1.9 billion program to build residences for low and middle-income people

Court denies bid to overturn Langley City election

Serena Oh won’t be allowed to launch a legal action against the City.

Incident at Langley gas station sends one to hospital (updated)

What appeared to be an exacto knife seen at scene

Calgarians vote ‘no’ to bidding for 2026 Winter Games, in plebiscite

Out of 767,734 eligible voters, 304,774 voted and 171,750 said ”no.”

Vancouver Island man survived for ‘days’ trapped in smashed truck

Duncan Moffat, 23, found by hunter by the side of the road near Sayward

Fundraising firefighters complete quest for B.C. Paralympian

The four Penticton residents raising money for Victoria Paralympian complete journey

PHOTOS: Hockey history in B.C. as Team India comes to play

Squad played its very first game in Canada on Tuesday against Surrey Falcons

5 to start your day

Letters reveal mental state of Surrey mom charged in daughter’s death, B.C. man wanted for alleged ‘serious domestic assault’ in Alberta and more

B.C. man wanted in connection to domestic assault in Edmonton

Sterling Miles Booker has ‘ROCK’ and ‘ROLL’ tattooed on his hands

Canada wants free trade deal with southeast Asian nations, Trudeau says

ASEAN nations combined have nearly 650 million people, an economy of US$2.8 trillion, and are already Canada’s sixth-biggest trading partner.

Olympic and Paralympic committees disappointed, but respectful of Calgary’s vote

The majority of voters said ‘no’ to a potential Calgary bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Wildfire death toll rises in California as search for missing continues

Authorities reported six more fatalities from the Northern California blaze, bringing the total number of dead so far to 48.

Most Read