Last weekend we took a much needed trip to our local garden centre in preparation for a good-old garden/plant overhaul. We are very lucky to live just a few miles away from our nearest Homebase store. In the 19 years we’ve lived in our home, it’s been our go-to shop for all things gardening and DIY. I was thrilled when Homebase approached me and asked me to write a blog piece on one of my favourite hobbies: ‘Plants and caring for them.’
With our trolley’s bursting at the seams and full of gorgeous plants, pots and supplies, we loaded up the car and set about the task of adding in some colour and order to our little London plot. Homebase have a great ‘4 for 3’ offer on all plants at present, so you stretch your budget even more, big or small. They also have a click and collect service and many non-perishable items and lots of products can be ordered online.
First up, was to make my front door area insta-worthy again. I opted for a purple theme to match the Clematis (jackmanii) we purchased last year from Homebase. They have a great selection of hanging baskets both ready to hang, and ready for you to plant up with your favourite blooms. This cone shaped two-tone basket was all ready to go! I love the ombre Petunias and I can’t wait for Geraniums to flower.
I have grouped pots together and planted them with a selection of Osteospermum, Calibrachoa, Ivy and Scabious. I’ve mixed some glazed pots with plain terracotta to add some different textures. I also found this rather clever Garden Up balcony planter to hang from the railing. There’s a great range of clever display ideas both online and in store where you can suspend plants from balconies, walls, fences, trees and beams.
Use a Multi-Purpose Compost and add in some grit if the plant requires well drained soil. Cover the hole at the bottom of the pot loosely with some broken terracotta pots (‘crocks’ as they are known in the gardening world) at the bottom of your pot to create more drainage. Some plants require slightly different soils, it will tell you this on the plant label, Homebase stock a great range of compost mixes.
Next up for a revamp was a little strip of patio by the shed. As I had some existing pots there already, I stuck with that theme and purchased some more terracotta planters in various different shapes and sizes, there was great selection in store.
It’s amazing how a few pots can instantly transform an area into a little haven. I chose a mixture of edible plants, herbs and flowers that the insects would love, attracting wildlife into our garden is something we are very fond of.
All the plants that I’ve chosen for this spot are fairly low maintenance and will give you hours of joy. The children chose a pretty lavender for the bees, a herb planter and a hanging tomato container, so that we can use our freshly grown produce and herbs in the kitchen.
One of my favourite things that we purchased, and something I’ve always wanted, was a Strawberry Planter. You can plant herbs in it if you choose, I can’t wait for the fruits to appear and harvest the juicy berries. I swear things taste better when you’ve grown them yourself!
Inside out: House plants
It’s not all about the garden and outdoors here at Little House, we’re very fond of a house plant too. There are many plants that can double up as indoor and outdoor plants, such as Ivy, Campanula and Herbs. I like to bring my cacti and a selection of indoor plants outside for some daily sun in the summer. I find this improves the health and appearance of them.
Most indoor plants love the fresh air, (it’s best to keep tender tropical plants indoors.) Rain will wash away accumulated dust, while increased light promotes healthy growth. Although they’re already accustomed to shade and warm temperatures, your plants may suffer if moved outside all in one go, so acclimatise them first. Be careful at night. I’m not very brave with leaving them out all night, but I know many people do.
Homebase has a great houseplant section, they also stock a great array of indoor plant pots and containers to place the plastic pot straight into. You can easily match pots and foliage to your home decor.
TOP TIPS: Keeping your plants alive this summer
Positioning of plants
My first tip is to read the label, it may sound obvious, but I’m sure we’re all guilty of just seeing a plant and thinking ‘I need that!’. Check the label on the pot first, where you will find full information of what your new plant needs: full sun, full shade or a combination of the two.
Homebase have partnered with Smartplant, a clever app that provides care, information and tips on plants in store/once purchased. You just scan the barcode, and the rest is easy! You can save all your plants in one place for ease.
Again, reading the label will tell you what soil your plant needs in order to thrive.
Outdoors: Most of the plants I’ve shown here will do fine in a multi purpose compost. If the plants need good drainage then simply adding in some grit with help this (such as Lavender). Some varieties of plants need a specificity soil type, (such as Acers). There should be someone on hand in Homebase to help with this and show you which soil to purchase. If in doubt search the internet, there is a wealth of information right there at your finger tips.
Indoors: If you’re repotting your houseplant from the container it came in and putting it in a another pot, you’ll also need to think about what type of potting soil you’re using. It isn’t enough to just use anything you have lying around. Instead, buy a bag of indoor potting compost. These mixes are specially blended for potting or re-potting most indoor pants including cacti.
Outdoor plants: Again, It may sound obvious, but watering is so easy to forget. On hot sunny days, pots and baskets need watering daily, in the evening is best, once the sun is low. Rainwater is great, invest in a Water Butt if you can. I have several watering cans which I keep filled as a constant reminder. If there has been a bought of rain then test the pots first by sticking your finger in the soil, if the pot is under a roof or next to a wall it may not have absorbed much water.
Indoor plants: Most houseplants are killed by overwatering. Aim to keep the compost moist but wait until it has almost dried out before rewatering. Again, you can check by pushing your finger into the soil at the edge of the pot. Water from above and put saucers under plants to allow excess water to drain away. I like to water mine once a week as a rule, but they may need more or less depending on the type of plant season. In time, you’ll get to know your plant and have a better idea of what kind of watering schedule it should be on. Again, use rainwater if you can.
As well as the obvious watering, many plants like a plant feed. Our tomatoes will benefit from this.
Keeping your plant looking good is important too.
Outdoor plants: Pinch/cut off dead flowers (dead heading) that are hanging limply on their stems. This encourages new growth. When you pinch off the dead growth, this helps push new flowers out and causes your plant to grow bigger and healthier, keeping many flowering plants blooming for months.
Indoor plants: Remove any dead, withering leaves. Clean the leaves with leaf wipes or a bit of kitchen roll soaked in a bit of water does the job too.
Learn About Your Plant
If you have the time, learn about the type of plant you’re caring for. Don’t worry, you don’t have time to become the next Monty Don, but reading gardening books and magazines is very informative and relaxing. Visit a local plant show, ask friends and relatives who are keen gardeners for tips. Use the internet, there are so many amazing plant and garden websites. Keep all your plant labels in a folder… you never know when you may need to learn about that plant in the future.
I hope this article inspires you in some way to get those green fingers to work. Why not visit your local Homebase this weekend and transform a little tired space in your garden or home and bring it to life with some plants. Gardening is so good for the soul, and looking after your leafy and flowery friends needn’t be a chore if you follow my simple plant guide above.
Until next time
Please visit www.homebase.co.uk for more info.
Written, styled and photographed by Amy Davies Pereira. *This is a paid collaboration with Homebase, all views and opinions are my own, I only work with brands I truly love and rate.