How Do I Plant Up A Container With Summer Bedding Plants?

How Do I Plant Up A Container With Summer Bedding Plants?

Fill your old wellies with cheap summer bedding plants for instant colour

A vibrant display of summer bedding need not cost a fortune, just recycle some old wellies, old boots, a holey bucket, anything you like which can hold compost and has a drainage hole in the bottom.

watering cans planted with bedding hanging on a wall
Image: Watering cans filled with bedding plants hanging on the wall

You will need:

  • container
  • multi-purpose compost
  • plants: 1 tall plant for the centre or back, ordinary upright bedding for the middle (amount will depend on size of pot), trailers for the edge of the pot
  • controlled release fertiliser
  • water retention gel
  • trowel

Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container; we have used a square (42.5cm, 15") fibre-clay square planter which resembles lead. It is a classic colour and shape and goes well with the palette of pinks and purples we have chosen. As it is a fairly deep container and bedding plants don't need that much compost we have half filled it with polystyrene; if you live in an area where there is a risk of it being stolen you can use bricks.


 Fill to within 5cm (2”) of the rim with good quality peat-free compost.

Mix in the required amount of fertiliser and water retention gel. Water retention gel can mean the difference between living and dying if there is a dry spell. You will need to feed with Tomorite every week towards the end of summer to ensure they go on flowering into autumn. If you don’t use the controlled release fertiliser, start feeding with Tomorite every week as soon as they start to flower.

Arrange the plants; tall upright in the centre or if the container is going against the wall put the tall plant at the back. we have used Dianthus 'Tickled Pink'; this is a perennial so when the summer container has finished flowering plant it in the garden somewhere sunny and well-drained. Arrange the ordinary upright bedding in the middle around the tall plant and the trailers at the front. To keep the cost down fill gaps with a cheap pack of trailing lobelia to make the container look full and lush. Use a cheap pack for the middle row; marigolds, petunias and use the more expensive single pots of plants for the tall plant and the trailers.

dianthus Tickled Pink

Image: Dianthus Tickled Pink

Fill the gaps with compost to within about 2cm (1”) of the rim to allow for watering, if the compost is up to the rim when you water it will just run off instead of penetrating the compost.

Keep compost just damp, place in a warm, well lit position until all danger of frost has passed. If you put them out once the days have warmed up but before the danger of frost has passed keep an eye on the weather, you will have to cover them if there is a frost forecast.

trough planted with summer bedding

Image: Trough planted with summer bedding

The plants we have used are:

  • dianthus - 'Tickled Pink'
  • petunia - upright lilac
  • calibrachoa - pink
  • diascia - 'Blue Belle'
  • bacopa - white
  • helichrysum - silver


Profile Image Angela Slater

Angela Slater

Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas.