Plan Your Festive Plantings

Plan your festive plantings

Christmas is coming, and there’s no better way to prepare for it than with gorgeous plantings of red, white and green. Plant in narrow beds along the path, or in pots on the deck where your living festive colour will receive the attention it deserves. While it’s always tempting to choose a range of plants, mass planting of just two or three varieties is the secret to creating a memorable display. Be sure to team your red choices with whites and greens, and above all, don’t be persuaded to plant orange-red flowers. The compromise is not worth it. You are looking for blooms that will deliver the true Christmas red – and there are plenty to choose from in our suggestions below.

Sunny spots

In sunny spots nothing beats a backdrop of Federation Daisy ‘Starlight Red’ with its masses of small yellow-centred flowers against a backdrop of lacy green foliage. Ensure it keeps flowering right through to Christmas and beyond by regularly dead-heading (removing spent blooms) and pinching out central growth to create bushing, and encourage more flowers.

Flank your Federation daisies with salvias such as fragrant Salvia ‘elegans’ (pineapple sage) and Salvia ‘splendens’. ‘Elegens’ produces a delicate red flower which seems suspended in space amongst it’s soft green leaves while ‘splendens’ packs a fiery punch. Rich red verbenas are equally eye-catching, especially the large-flowered, spreading Verbena ‘scarlet’. In the foreground, bring your beds to life with pops of true-red gerbera and double dianthus (Dianthus ‘Hidcote red’ is a winner).

Contrast red-blooming beauties with a carpet of white-flowering, fast-growing plants such as frothy Alyssum, Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens,) and Calibrachoa (also known as trailing petunia). If you live in a cooler part of the country, don’t be afraid to include white English Daisy (Bellis perennis). This spring-flowering treasure will happily grow into December before the heat discourages it.

Shady spots

In shadier parts of the garden, nothing beats waxy red begonias (keep them at their best by removing dead flowers, leaves, and stems each day). Red and white impatiens paint a pretty picture, and if you live in a warm summer region, don’t go past the giants in this family: New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri). Their lush foliage is a display in itself. Impatiens are inexpensive and fast-growing, so even if you don’t get off the mark as quickly as you had hoped with your festive planting preparation, these are still going to be winners! In dappled shade, make a December statement with hanging baskets of cherry red fuchsia. Fuchsia ‘Marinka’ is the look for pure red, but if you want to bring in the white for contrast, head for Fuchsia ‘Mitzi’ which displays the whole range of Christmas colours.

On the deck

If you have a sun-drenched deck, bring it to Christmas life with terracotta pots filled with red and white geranium. These easy-grow beauties are set off by bright green, felted foliage. Geranium ‘Maxibloom Red’ and ‘Maxibloom White’ offer large flower volume, and grow to a pleasing 25cm-30 centimetres. As an alternative for contrast, choose red or white petunias.

Hurry the colour along!

Liquid feeding is the key to lush growth, while warmth is what hurries along the blooming. Brew a few buckets of liquid feed by adding chopped seaweed, nettles, comfrey and a handful or two of aged animal manure or manure pellets to fresh water. Leave everything to soak for a week to ten days before straining off the liquid and watering it onto your plants. If the lead up to Christmas is chilly, erect a cloche over your plants to lock in the heat.

Light up your display

Finally, to really highlight your Christmas colour and finish off your display, thread solar powered fairy lights through you plantings, or wind them around planters on the deck. What a delightful way to welcome in the festive season!