October 2014 Newsletter (vol.34)   >>   Beautiful Containers: What Not To Do!

1: Don’t fill a large container in the wrong place:

 

Ever tried to lift a large container filled with dirt and plants? It can be overwhelmingly heavy. When using a large or awkward container, make sure to place your pot where it will stay and then fill it, you’ll save your back. If there ever is a time where planting in place is not an option, the pot lifter helps make moving large/bulky items easy and safe.

 

2: Don’t drown your plants:

 

To avoid over-watering your containers, use containers that have drain holes, lots of them. Also, makes sure to read the moisture requirements for your plants and then follow them. Before you water, check if your soil is moist. To do this, put your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle. If the soil you are touching with your fingertip feels dry, water your plant. If you do over-water, your plants leaves may turn yellow and fall off, or your plants may get limp. If your soil is too wet, move the container, if you can, to a dry, breezy spot.

 

3: Don't under water:

 

Most containers need watering at least once a day in the heat of the summer. Many, especially hanging plants or small containers, need watering even more often because there is less soil to hold in moisture. When you water make sure to really soak your plants – if you just give them a sip, the water will only wet the top layer of soil. Water until you see it coming out of the bottom of your pot. If your plants do dry out, don’t despair; even the most pathetic, limp plant might revive with a good drink. If you find your plants need a bit of help, soil moist is a great additive that acts as a water reservoir.

 

4: Awkward plant to pot ratio:

 

Make sure to consider the proportions of your plants to your container. A large container stuffed with short plant can look stunted. If you need a rule of thumb, try to have at least one plant that is as tall as the container. Also try plants that will spill over the sides.

 

5: Don’t buy weak or sickly plants:

 

Buying plants at a reputable local nursery is a good place to start in your quest for healthy plants. At a nursery, you can often get a wealth of information and advice from knowledgeable staff. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you pick out a good plant.

 

6: Fear of pruning:

 

When your containers start looking leggy or ragged, don’t be afraid to cut them back with a sharp pair of pruners. You may want to put them in an out-of-the-way spot until they re-bound, but chances are they’ll come back healthier and happier with a good haircut.

 

7: Beware of bad neighbors:

 

Make sure that all the plants in your container garden share the same sun, soil and water requirements. You can find out this information from your seed plackets or plant labels.

 

8: Starving your plants:

 

Plants require nutrients to grow and be healthy, so you will need to add those nutrients to the soil. There are many fertilizers to choose from and flowering plants have different needs than vegetables and herbs. Fertilizing containers regularly is a key to their success. You can start with a slow release fertilizer, mixed in with your potting soil and then add a diluted, liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.

 

9: Living with ick:

 

After you’ve tried everything, short of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and your plants still looks dreadful, cut your losses and toss it on the compost pile or in the trash. If only one plant in your container is icky, just pull out that plant and replace it.

 

10: Don’t have unrealistic expectations:

 

Before you make your container, evaluate how you live. Do you travel a lot during the summer? If so, either get an automatic drip irrigation system or enlist some help to keep your plants healthy and alive while you’re gone or get plants that don’t need a lot of water. Garden how you live. Are you casual or formal? Some prefer big over flowering containers with bright, bold colors, while others like neat and tiny herb gardens. Have fun and experiment.

 

Sources:

“10 Common Container Gardening Mistakes” By Kerry Michaels