Thompson & Morgan Gardening Blog

Our gardening blog covers a wide variety of topics, including fruit, vegetable and tree stories. Read some of the top gardening stories right here.

Propagation, planting out and cultivation posts from writers that know their subjects well.

Flowers You Should Avoid Planting Near One Another

There’s certainly an art to orchestrating your garden. Learning about which flowering plants work well together or which are incompatible due to their unique growth conditions is the key to creating gorgeous and harmonious combinations in your yard.

Below are several examples of flowers you should avoid planting near one another, which prove just how important it is to pay attention to your plant tags.

Hosta and Celosia 

Hosta and Celosia can serve as an example of two opposites in terms of their light requirements. Although the sunlight requirements of Hosta plants can vary widely, they are generally touted as shade lovers, whereas the very name of Celosia derives from the Greek word for “burning”.

hosta

©Thompson & Morgan – Avoid planting sunlovers with Hostas which prefer a shaded spot.

Therefore, if you are thinking about electrifying the darkest corners of your flower garden, don’t make the mistake of combining your hostas with plants that have trouble holding their own in the shady spots. Instead, you can choose to brighten the shade with Astilbe’s rosy-red flowers or with another shade-loving plant, such as tuberous Begonias, Lily of the Valley, Solomon’s Seal, Dicentra, etc. Similarly, avoid placing short plants that love the sun next to tall ones that will cast a shade over them.

Marigolds and Salvia viridis

There is no other reason why you should avoid grouping these types of flowers other than aesthetics. On the aesthetic front, thinking of plants in pairs or groupings is paramount. For instance, nothing promotes unwinding after a hard day like pastel garden schemes. So, bold reds, bright oranges, vibrant yellows, and other ‘assertive’ shades of annuals are rarely compatible with the gentle pastel hues of a typical perennial garden.

Marigold

©Thompson & Morgan – Choose plant combinations with care to avoid garish colour clashes.

Avid gardeners weave annuals in and out of their perennials, but they site them in recurring themes so that one echoes the hue of another most beautifully. Therefore, instead of plonking down a bunch of Marigolds and Petunias next to rosy pink Salvia viridis, pair the latter with some pale-yellow daylilies to repeat the colour of Japanese anemones further back.

Japanese Iris and Vinca

Plants that like wet soil and those that cannot tolerate extended periods of flooded or waterlogged conditions are another two examples of flowers you should avoid planting near one another. Iris ensata, for instance, can easily turn those swampy spots in the yard into a colourful focal point. This is because Japanese iris, unlike many garden flowers, doesn’t include planting in well-draining soil; instead, this easy-care flower loves wet conditions.

Iris ensata

©Shutterstock – Avoid planting moisture loving Iris ensata alongside drought tolerant species.

On the other hand, hot weather annuals that need good drainage (such as vincas), and various types of succulents that are mostly considered great indoor plants fit for small spaces like small apartments, deliver a sickly performance in cold, soggy situations.

Gardenias & Gardenias

Gardenias are flowers you should avoid planting near one another because they, in particular, foster leaf pests such as, for instance, the aphids. These gardenia bugs create honeydew on which sooty mould thrives. Thus, it’s best to avoid planting these plants in their immediate vicinity, for it might exacerbate a pest problem in the whole flower bed.

Gardenia

©Shutterstock – Planting large numbers of the same plant can be problematic if they are prone to disease.

Perennials masterclass: best expert content

Nurserymans Choice Seasonal Perenial Border from T&M
Perennials brighten up all beds, borders & containers
Image: Nurserymans Choice Seasonal Perenial Border from T&M

Perennial plants are the trusty stalwarts of our beds, borders, and containers. Thriving for many years before they need renewing, they’re a vital part of every well-designed planting scheme. To help you get the most from your perennials, we’ve searched the internet to bring together this comprehensive list of excellent blog posts and YouTube videos. Here are some top tips from expert gardeners who, when it comes to perennials, really know their stuff.

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Strawberries masterclass: best expert content

Strawberry 'Vibrant' from Thompson & Morgan
Homegrown strawberries taste better than anything you can buy in a supermarket
Image: Strawberry ‘Vibrant’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you like growing delicious strawberries we’re delighted to bring you a collection of the best advice from the internet. These bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers are people who practise what they preach, growing heavily-fruiting strawberry plants season after season, and sharing their knowhow so that you can enjoy a bumper crop too. Read on for some great strawberry-growing tips…

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10 Best Plants for Curb Appeal

Some of the best plants for curb appeal are both attractive and low-maintenance, making them ideal for part-time gardeners who are also full-time plant lovers. Use this fact to your advantage, whatever your reason for sprucing up your curb. Your front yard will return the investment manifold in the coming days.

Plan before you plant

Take a good look at your front yard before you start digging and planting around. Making a gardening plan is a crucial phase in every project, and improving your curb appeal is no different. Most importantly, ask yourself what you want to achieve. Do you want a low-upkeep, year-round green front yard or a breathtaking curb that will help you sell your home for top dollar? Pick the plants from our list that best suit your short or long-term plans.

1. Rhododendrons and Azaleas

These cousins will enrich your front yard either with their showy, gently fragrant flowers or leathery green leaves. The shrubs come as deciduous or evergreen. The Rhododendron genus offers us hundreds of varieties, but some of the most cherished are ‘Moerheim’ and ‘Madame Galle’.

Rhododendron ‘Moerheim’ is a popular choice!

2. Bougainvillaea

What may surprise you about this evergreen, shrubby vine is that its variety of colours is only surpassed by the number of landscaping uses. Bougainvillaeas are among the best plants for curb appeal as they can be cultivated as ground cover, a bush, a hedge, short flowering trees or even as a bonsai. In the UK, these half-hardy climbers are best grown in patio pots that can be moved to a frost-free position in winter.

Bougainvillaea is best grown in patio pots that can be moved to a frost-free position in winter.

3. Aloe Vera

What better way to break the curviness of your garden than with the spiky Aloe? This succulent will be a great addition to your front yard garden as long as there’s no chance of freezing in the winter. If there is and you need to relocate them, make sure to protect them well so that they can thrive in their new location. In the UK, Aloe ‘Safari Sunrise’ is reasonably hardy, but will appreciate some protection from the worst winter weather.

Aloe ‘Safari Sunrise’ makes a great talking point in summer.

4. Hosta

These hardy perennials love the shade. Even if your front yard doesn’t receive much sun, that won’t stop the attractive hosta from spreading its luscious foliage and scented flowers.

Hostas are perfect for shaded front gardens.

5. Roses

Rose ‘The Fairy’ is an incredibly free-flowering shrub that blooms beautifully from late summer to autumn, but requires full sun. Its pink flowers, stand out nicely against the dark foliage.

Roses make a showy addition to your front garden.

6. Geraniums

Clustering and growing different varieties of Geraniums will provide your curb with the spring to fall colouring. Of all varieties of this perennial, Rozanne’s violet flowers bloom the longest.

Geranium Splish Splash boasts individually patterened bicolour blooms.

7. Mandevilla

Mandevilla or Rocktrumpet is a vine full of impressive dark red, pink or white trumpet-like flowers. It is an excellent choice if you have a trellis that receives at least six hours of sun daily. In the UK, it is best grown as a patio plant in a container so that it can be moved to a frost free location during the winter months.

Mandevilla makes a superb feature outside your front door.

8. Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera jamesonii is a cheerful, non-stop bloomer that will add brightness to your front yard as only daisy-like flowers can. These long-lasting, attention-grabbing, satiny, colourful flowers will not only brighten your garden but will provide you with seeds for the next season.

Gerberas make a cheery perennial for front garden borders and containers.

9. Chrysanthemums

These rich perennials come in an array of flower forms, sizes, and colours. Rounded mounds of hardier garden chrysanthemums prefer full sun. These easy to grow flowers, will spice up your curb from August to October.

Try Chrysanthemums for a splash of late-season colour.

10. Thuja

This lush evergreen will grow quickly and is one of the plants grown on property lines for added privacy. Thuja occidentalis will foster a feeling of security and comfort in your yard year-round and make a perfect canvas for your more colourful plants.

Thuja is ideal for providing evergreen structure.

 

Potatoes masterclass: best expert content

Homegrown potatoes have a flavour unlike anything you can buy in a store
Image source: Potato ‘Picasso’ from T&M

In this masterclass you’ll find some of the very best advice on growing potatoes. It comes courtesy of gardeners who not only produce bumper crops at home or at their allotments, but also share their potato wisdom through their blogs and YouTube channels. If you want to get the best from your spuds this year, you’ve come to the right place – our round-up of expert tips to help you grow perfect potatoes.

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Tomatoes masterclass: best expert content

Tomato 'Gourmandia' F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan
Try Tomato ‘Gourmandia’ F1 Hybrid for gorgeous texture and flavour, perfect for slicing onto sandwiches
Image: Tomato ‘Gourmandia’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Do you want to grow your own fresh tomatoes? Here’s a collection of the best online content to get you started and refine your technique. From sowing and germinating tomato seeds through to dealing with a glut, this comprehensive mix of expert content includes articles, how-to videos and Instagram posts to help you grow your own bumper crop of sweet and juicy tomatoes, whether you have a greenhouse or not. 

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A Taste For The Tropics: Creating A Jungle Garden!

If summer holidays to far-off places feel out of reach right now, maybe it’s time to plan for a holiday at home? Creating a tropical feel on your suburban patio isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound. There are plenty of exotic beauties that will flourish in our cooler climate, but still create that luxuriant leafy feel that will transport you far away on sultry summer days.

Jungle Garden

©Shutterstock – Create your own jungle paradise!

Layer up hardy plants up with frost-tender species that can be plunged (pot and all) into garden borders in summer. Plunging makes it easier to lift them later in the year when they should be brought back into the greenhouse, just as autumn begins to chill the air.

Add a few carefully selected flowering plants for a splash of colour, and suddenly you’ve created your own jungle planting scheme!

Hardy plants for structure

Some exotics are perfectly hardy, and these are ideal for creating the bare-bones of your planting scheme. These stalwarts will stay in place throughout the year providing a permanent structure.

Trachycarpus palm

© Shutterstock – Trachycarpus and Chamaerops provide year round structure.

Architectural evergreens, such as Tracycarpus fortunei and Chamaerops humilis provide year-round structure. Their enormous, fan-shaped leaves deliver plenty interest and create a fabulous canopy. Although tough and reliable, it’s worth choosing a sheltered spot where their large foliage is protected from strong winds, which can leave them looking dog-eared.

Fatsia japonica is another ‘must-have’ hardy evergreen with its large, glossy leaves that simply scream ’jungle’! Despite its leafy looks, it’s easy to grow and needs virtually no maintenance!

Fatsia and Cordyline

©Shutterstock – Phormium and Fatsia create a textural contrast.

Cordylines and Phormiums boast strappy, linear leaves that provide a good contrast to broad-leaved plants like Fatsia. They come in a bright range of colours too, delivering an explosion of foliage that arches outwards from a neat, low maintenance clump.

Frost-tender beauties

If you’re about to embark on a jungle adventure, it’s handy to have a greenhouse or conservatory available. There are many frost tender species that will bring your tropical planting scheme to life, but they will need some winter protection. 

Exotic blooms

The voluptuous foliage of a Canna, topped with its bright summer blooms can really make a statement.  Overwintering is easy – simply reduce watering and bring them indoors to a frost free location (a shed or garage will even do the trick). 

Callas (or Zantedeschia) make a great choice too and are easier to lift and store. In autumn, as they die back, lift the tubers from the soil. They can be dried off and stored in paper bags in a cool, frost free place over the winter, and replanted in the following spring.

Strelitzia, Calla and Canna

©Visions, Newey plants – Strelitzia, Calla and Canna make an exotic display!

Strelitzia is better known as the Bird of Paradise plant for its impressive bird-like blooms. This exotic perennial makes a magnificent pot plant for your jungle patio. From late autumn to late spring, it will need full protection in a warm conservatory or greenhouse – so before investing, be sure you have the space to keep it safe and snug during the coldest months.

Fabulous foliage

A jungle planting scheme needs plenty of spectacular foliage to provide that characteristic, lush and leafy feel.  Banana Plants (Musa basjoo) deliver impact in abundance! These enormous perennials grow quickly to the size of a small tree, their broad, lustrous leaves unfurling from an upright stem to create a majestic, architectural display. Although unlikely to fruit in our cooler UK climate, their distinctive looks deliver the sights and sounds of a tropical island as they wave gently in the summer breeze.

Caladiums are bang on trend right now! Forming a mound of colourful, heart-shaped leaves, they create the perfect understorey, thriving in damp, shaded conditions. Bring them indoors in winter and enjoy their funky foliage in your warm conservatory.

Caladium and Coleus

©Visions, Newey plants – Caladium and Coleus boast dazzling foliage.

If overwintering Caladiums feels like too much effort, stick to quick and easy Coleus for your dazzling foliage! Coleus is just as colourful and can be grown from plug plants of even from seed each year, making a great alternative where winter greenhouse space is limited. At the end of summer, just add them to the compost heap!

Familiar garden favourites

Splashes of colour from reliable garden favourites can inject impact into a leafy landscape. A few carefully combined Dahlias how the power to deliver a rush of adrenaline! Few plants have such a diversity of colours and flower shapes so these reliable perennials are perfect for dotting among foliage plants to surprise you with their late summer blooms. Lift them in winter, or protect them with a dry mulch of bark chips.

Begonia Santa Barbara

©Ball Colegrave – Choose Begonia boliviensis varieties such as Begonia ‘Santa Barbara’.

 If you can’t bear to be without a few hanging baskets then opt for Begonia boliviensis varieties. These trailing Begonia cascade with more subtlety than the flouncy x tuberhybrida cultivars. They are generally grown as annuals, coping well in sun or shade, and making a versatile addition to a jungle theme.  

Exotic climbers

Don’t neglect vertical spaces! Exotic climbers will cover ugly garden walls and fences. Train them as a leafy screen to enclose your favourite seating area, adding privacy and creating a tranquil paradise.

Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) is perfect for the job, with a vigorous growth habit that will quickly cover unsightly garden structures with a cloak of evergreen foliage. Don’t be fooled by its tropical blooms – this showy climber is surprisingly hardy in the UK!

Passionflowers

©Shutterstock – Passiflora caerulea are surprisingly hardy, despite their tropical looks.

Let the scrambling stems of Gloriosa superba meander among other plants. Its flame-like blooms will add dash of unexpected colour. Each leaf has an intriguing tendril that helps it cling to its supports. This tropical climber does need warmth to start the tubers into growth, so it’s best potted up in spring and grown on a windowsill indoors until all risk of frost has passed.  In autumn, simply lift the tubers, dry it off and store it for the following year.

Creating your own tropical getaway isn’t difficult if you have a sheltered, sunny spot in the garden. Once you’ve grown just a few of these exotic beauties you’ll find yourself adding more to your display each year – they are more addictive that you might realise!

 

Petunia masterclass: best expert content

Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Improved’ from T&M
This climbing petunia has been trained up an obelisk to create a spectacular focal point
Image: Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Improved’ from T&M

Here you’ll find the best expert content on raising petunia seeds or growing petunia plug plants. We’ve scoured the web to bring you insights from the experts who know petunias best – the experienced, green-fingered garden bloggers who love to grow them. Here’s a wealth of information and advice to help you successfully grow your own perfect petunias. 

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Fuchsia masterclass: best expert content

NEW Fuchsia ‘Angela’ (Hardy) from T&M
Standards like Fuchsia ‘Angela’ make a striking feature on doorsteps and patios.
Image: NEW Fuchsia ‘Angela’ (Hardy) from Thompson & Morgan

If you love fuchsias and want to fill your borders, hanging baskets, and patio containers with elegant flowers, we’ve scoured the internet to find the most helpful online content. With advice on overwintering, taking cuttings, troubleshooting, and suggestions for new varieties to try, these experienced garden bloggers have a wealth of knowledge to share. Here’s everything you need to know to grow your own fabulous fuchsias.

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Light up your garden with yellow: the colour of the year

Arum 'Gold Label' from T&M
Add a sunny pop of colour to your garden with yellow flowers
Image: Arum ‘Gold Label’ from T&M

The colour of 2021, Pantone ‘Illuminating’ is a warm and vibrant yellow that brings with it the promise of better times. And what better way to celebrate our hope and optimism for the future than by planning a bright new colour scheme for our precious outdoor space? 

Best used as an accent colour, it’s incredibly easy to incorporate a sunny pop of yellow into your garden. Here are 6 of Thompson & Morgan’s favourite yellow plants and flowers to brighten up the year ahead. 

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