Everyone loves a bright warm summer. You can't help but feel lifted. Bright sunshine and a warm breeze can bring an endlessly optimistic feeling to the garden. Hot Border planting styles can bring that summer blast to your garden even if the British weather says otherwise. Join me as I plant out the final borders of the Exploding Atom garden with red hot flower combinations. Time to grab your sunglasses!

Everyone has their preference when it comes to colour. I’m a sucker for the reds, orange and yellows of the colour wheel. I absolutely love planting up red hot colours for garden design clients bringing that feeling of summer to a border. When I started to design the #explodingatomgarden the red hot central core was the starting point. It’s quite poignant that I’ve saved it until the very end to plant up. As if I’m subconsciously waiting for this border to start the chain reaction of explosions within the garden!

I thought it would be helpful for other gardeners to have a look at the types of plants and options when it comes to hot borders planting ideas.

Hot Border Plant Ideas

If you’re wanting to create a real wow factor in your garden then a hot border is certainly the way to draw attention! If you have a South facing garden that gets the sun all day then these are ideal conditions for a red hot border featuring sun-loving plants. Even if only part of your garden gets the sun its worthwhile considering planting up a hot border to make the most of it.

Check out these hot borders in my Sunshine Show Garden in memory of Dianne Oxberry 2019

Hot borders feature plants that enjoy bright sunny conditions. Usually, these plants are on the yellow, orange and red spectrum to really turn up the heat. They love full sun and are guaranteed to bring a holiday vibe to your garden and are usually a late summer flower.

  • Achillea
  • Heleniums
  • Grasses
  • Penstemons
  • Rudbeckia
  • Dahlias
  • Hemerocallis (Day Lillies)
  • Kniphofia
Red, yellows and oranges are all staples of hot borders

If you’re stuck for inspiration on how to plant these then a Prairie border-style works perfectly for these plants. Mixing them with grasses and grouping them in clumps together to get the most impact. In fact, my guide below will show you just how easy it is to get an effortless hot border even in the smallest of gardens!

Growing Herbaceous Perennials from Seed

There’s plenty of advice and guidance online about growing your own vegetables. In fact, you’re practically tripping over-allotment content on Instagram and Twitter. However, the herbaceous plant groups almost entirely get ignored! I’ve been showing this year how you can grow seeds without the need for Plastic Pots. Nearly all of which are herbaceous perennials meaning they come back year after year. Growing your own herbaceous plants is both cheap and pretty easy to do. Given you can easily spend £8-£12 per plant in a garden centre it is a great way to save money and also grow super healthy plants.

Growing your own herbaceous plants is easy and really rewarding

The other benefits are you know exactly what they have been grown in. You’re not bringing in plants to the country that have travelled hundreds of miles and you help reduce the chances of diseases being imported. Some of which will even flower that year, such as Achillea and Erigeron.

The draw for vegetables and annual flowers are that you get the fruit or flowers the very same year. With herbaceous plants most of the time you’re growing them one year ready to start flowering the year after. Which I think has put people off in the past. If you consider the fact that creating a new garden or border is going to take the best part of a year any way from planning to execution then the wait really isn’t that big a deal. I also find seed-grown plants are tougher, require less initial watering and help you the gardener truly understand the growth of the plant.

Planting Plug Plants

If you don’t have space or time to grow your own plants from seed then plug plants can be a really efficient way to bulk up your garden. Usually, these are from mail order or from nurseries. These small 7cm-9cm plants require only a fraction of watering and are far cheaper than larger 2lt alternatives.

I’ve planted up some beds just using different varieties of herbaceous plants all in plug plant format. You can easily create a beautiful border with plug plants at a fraction of the cost. Sometimes these even flower that year. One thing to bear in mind is the ultimate growth and spread of all plants that you’re transplanting. Always check how wide and tall the plant will get so you give them enough space to fully grow.

Plug plants can help cut the cost of filling up new borders

When to prune back herbaceous borders

Another question I get asked all the time is about the maintenance of hot borders and herbaceous perennials. There are two schools of thought on pruning and tidying up.

  1. Cut back as soon as the flowering season is over ie Autumn (tidy and neat)
  2. Cut back late winter leaving the stems and flowers to ‘crisp up’ adding interest and food sources for birds during winter

I’m an advocate of the second method as it extends interest in the garden during the winter months, helps out wildlife and frees up more time to enjoy your garden!

If you’ve got the right sunny gardening conditions then a hot border can bring a real wow factor to your garden. If you follow my advice on leaving the herbaceous plants throughout the winter it also means you can get two to three seasons of interest out of the plants. Hot borders can also be used to provide cut flowers throughout the season and are guaranteed to bring a holiday feel to your garden!

Are you a hot border planting fan? Or do you prefer cooler calmer colours? Why not TweetFacebook or Instagram me with your garden pictures and comments. I’d love to hear from you! You can also check out the other guides and vlogs on my Youtube channel.

Happy Gardening!

Plants used for "Hot Border Planting Ideas in the Exploding Atom Garden"

Red Hot Perennials
  • Achillea millefolium 'Credo'
  • Achillea millefolium 'Terracotta'
  • Achillea millefolium 'Parkers Variety'
  • Helenium 'Hoopesii'
  • Helenium 'Red & Gold'
  • Monarda

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One thought on “Hot Border Planting Ideas in the Exploding Atom Garden

  1. […] to practice. Most of my guides use my own garden design practice or my very own concept garden the ‘Exploding Atom Garden’ to demonstrate the topics in […]

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