Container gardening on the balcony with Poppies and Petunias

Balconies are the meeting point for the great outdoors and the comforts of the home. Fresh air and shelter coexist in one space. As day turns to night with a sky of beautiful colours, the balcony is the perfect place to enjoy the golden hour. Making your balcony a happy area to relax is as simple as inviting nature’s most treasured pops of colour to join you. Petunias and Poppies are the perfect flowers to grow on your balcony for year-round colour and brightness.

How to grow Petunias in pots

Petunias are available in a range of colours – each as bright as the next. Place Petunias in a mostly sunny position, and ensure they are never completely dry. In terms of watering, perform the “finger test” to see when to water Petunias – poke your fingers gently in the soil around 2cm down and only water if the soil is dry. If you’ve sightly underwatered, they will recover, so steer towards water.

  • Soil: Petunias require well-draining, aerated and slightly acidic soil. Potting soil works well, especially if you mix it with a little peat moss, to lower the pH levels.
  • Fertiliser: Petunias love lots of food. Most potting mixes have the right amount of nutrients. To be sure, you can use a slow-release fertiliser when you plant them. Alternatively, compost will give them the nutrients they need – just remember to ensure the compost doesn’t interfere with the soil’s drainage abilities.
  • Deadheading: Deadheading encourages the plant to direct its energy into creating more flowers, rather than wasting it on fading flowers. It also keeps your plant looking neat and tidy. Remove flowers that are beyond their prime, ensuring you pinch off the bottom area that produces seeds, too.

How to grow Poppies in pots

Poppies are a timeless classic we’ve known and loved for generations. They’re not the easiest flower to grow but their vibrant colour rewards and awes even the seasoned gardener, who has seen it all. Poppy varieties that grow well in pots include Oriental poppies, Iceland poppies, California poppies, and Shirley poppies. Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule) are the ones that provide an incredible, colourful show during winter in a garden. Grow poppies with the following steps:

  • Planting: Poppies dislike being transplanted, so pop to your local GCA Garden Centre and buy a tray of pretty poppy seedlings and plant it into the desired position. Place the container in a full sun position. Be sure to water the seedlings gently, they have very delicate roots. Once they flower, they will need to be deadheaded to increase their number of blooms.
  • Soil: Poppies enjoy a neutral to slightly acidic pH. They require excellent drainage but rich soil – a loamy, well-drained potting mix is perfect.
  • Water: Poppies enjoy minimal water during and before their flowering season. They can be watered every day, but ensure not to overwater each time you do. When they’re about to flower, and throughout their flowering period, water moderately, maintaining excellent drainage.
  • Fertiliser: Fertiliser should only be applied during the growing season. It is best to apply a slow-release fertiliser when you first plant them. If you didn’t, a balanced liquid feed, every two weeks, will provide potted Poppies with the nutrients they need.
  • Pests: Be on the lookout for aphids, and water sufficiently to avoid red spider mite damage. Ensure you choose a good-quality potting mix, to avoid root rot.

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