Presented by Costa Farms
Perhaps this has happened to you (or you’ve seen it happen with a neighbor): You get a nice container garden on your front porch. It looks great for a couple of weeks, but then you notice it doesn’t quite look as good as it did. Then it gets worse and you’re not quite sure how to get your beautiful flowers back.
If this sounds familiar, use and share our tips for success.
Regular, consistent watering is the single best thing you can do for your baskets and container gardens, especially in summer when warm temperatures, lots of sun and windy days can dry plants out.
How often do you need to water? It depends on the type of plants, their size, and where they’re growing, but during the heat of the summer, be prepared to water every day.
The rule is that you should water when the top inch of the potting mix feels dry to the touch.
Tip: Water slowly. Dry potting mix can have trouble absorbing water at first. That means if you pour on a bunch of water quickly, more water flows through the soil and out the drainage holes than the potting mix can absorb.
Reduce moisture loss due to evaporation in your container gardens by using a 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch on top of the potting mix. This can work wonders. Just about any mulch, such as shredded bark, wood chips or cocoa hulls, works.
When You’re Not Around
If you’re not home to water your containers and hanging baskets, move them to a shaded spot. The cooler they are, the less water they use. Protection from the sun will also mean the pots lose less water to evaporation.
Potted plants depend on you for their nutrient needs. Keep them happy by regularly fertilizing your plants.
You can save effort and do it just once at the beginning of the season by using slow-release fertilizer granules. They break down over the course of the season, and as they do, they add nutrients back in the soil.
If you’d rather be more hands-on, you can also mix fertilizer in with your water.
No matter what type of fertilizer you use, follow the directions on the product packaging.
Tip: Most plants aren’t fussy about the brand or kind of fertilizer you use. Look for balanced fertilizers formulated for use on potted plants.
Prune Like a Pro
Pruning isn’t always necessary in container gardens and hanging baskets, but it can be helpful, especially if it seems like one plant is growing out of bounds at the expense of others.
Don’t be afraid to pinch off a bit of growth to help keep aggressive growers in check.
A second reason to prune is to keep plants full and bushy. If you see a plant that seems like it’s getting too long and lanky, just pinch off the top inch or two of new growth. That will encourage it to make new branches and be a fuller plant.
Change Out Container Gardens
If something happens and your plants are too far gone to save, don’t be afraid to invest in a fresh set of plants to refresh the container’s color. Drop-N-Bloom Annuals are made specifically for this.