Gardening: 10 top tips on planting for late summer colour

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As the showy blooms from the early summer months start to fade, your borders and pots may be in need of an injection of colour, writes Alex Guy, manager of Northampton Garden Centre.

The expert has come up with 10 top tips to help you...

1) For an instant display you could try adding summer bedding plants to containers and borders. Petunia surfinia is a good choice and will bloom until the end of summer. Ensure it is grown in a sheltered spot in light shade.

Bedding plants do require a lot of watering so if you don’t have a lot of time, this may not be the best option.

2) There are many brightly-coloured perennials that flower late in the season, such as astilbe, helenium and phlox paniculata.

They will grow back every year and are a good way of ensuring your garden gets that extra splash of colour. As they get bigger, some perennials may require dividing or staking.

3) If you want to add late summer flowering plants to an existing border, try to buy a few of the same variety and colour and intersperse them throughout the border for a more subtle display.

4) Depending on how much space you have it may be worth creating a separate flower bed for late summer flowering plants.

This can help when you are deciding on colours and will ensure that as the flowers in the summer bed fade, they will be replaced by others in another part of the garden.

5) If you are planning on creating a bright display of warm coloured flowers, try to avoid too many pastel coloured blooms as they will be overpowered by the stronger shades.

6) Dahlias are a popular choice and come in different colours and varieties from pom-pom to cacti types. However, be aware that most dahlias need to be over-wintered inside as they can be susceptible to frost damage.

7) To brighten up containers and baskets, violas are another good choice. If you remember to deadhead them they should continue to flower until early winter.

8) To add some vertical interest to borders, consider planting crocosmia. It has upright, spiky leaves and orange-red flowers. A popular variety is Lucifer, which grows up to 120 centimetres tall and has bright red flowers.

9) It isn’t just plants that can brighten up borders and pots; shrubs with bronze, dark purple or burgundy foliage work well with yellow, red and orange coloured flowers. Berberis, heucheras and lysimachia ciliata are all good choices.

10) Japanese anemone is perfect if you have a low maintenance garden and will thrive in a shady spot. The plant produces large pink, mauve or white flowers, which should bloom until October. Anemones can become invasive and after flowering it may be necessary to split them up and plant in other areas of the garden.

For more information on late summer colour planting, call Northampton Garden Centre, in Newport Pagnell Road, Northampton, on 01604 765 725 or visit