By: Gary Garner Sr.
Like me you may have a number of beautiful containers of various flowers and other plants on your deck, patio, porch or other areas of the yard. As I write this I can see, I see pots of begonia, Hosta, vinca, marigold, a bay tree, some Christmas Catus, Japanese maple and a drift rose. There are other pots scattered throughout the yard that I can’t see at present.
My point being that all of these have-to-have regular maintenance through the summer if you want them to flower or show well. They all have to be watered, some more than others. Some will need deadheading, some won’t. Some may require hard pruning, most won’t. Some may require relocating from shade to sun while others may need just the opposite. Each plant is different.
The big question for most people is how often to water and when to water. It’s safe to say that the plants in the sun will likely need water almost daily. The size of the container and the plant size will make a difference in how often you water. Plants in the shade may only need water weekly or less. Some plants such as succulents store water and can go for weeks without water. My Catus have not been watered for over two months and are thriving.
Personally, I think water meters are a waste of money. The best water meter I have ever found is my finger. Touch the soil and press your finger in a half inch or so, if it feels dry water. If you feel moisture wait a day to water. When you water, if possible, water underneath the leaves. Wet foliage contributes to disease and fungus problems.
Last on watering, because the plant is wilted does not necessarily mean it needs water. Plants flop in the heat as a means of protection. The plant may be flopped at three in the afternoon and by nine that night it looks great. It did not need to be watered that day. I like for my plants to thoroughly dry out between watering’s. A little stress tends to create more bloom.
Most newer varieties of plants do not need dead heading. Many people quit planting petunias because they needed to be dead headed and cut back often. Plant breeders in recent years have developed varieties that drop old blooms and grow bushier. Now more people are going back to planting petunias. Pruning the plants serves to thicken the plant and create new growth for more bloom.
Each time you water the plant the drainage leaches some of the nutrients out of the soil. This creates a need for additional fertilization. Read the label on the product you are using to determine how often to reapply. Some of the powdered products that you mix with water may need to be reapplied often. While a product such as Osmocote may only need to be applied every two to three months.
Make sure the plant is located in the proper environment. Vinca for example located in moderate to heavy shade is not going to do well. It wants to be in full hot sun. Hosta, on the other hand, does best in moderate to heavy shade. Sun or shade changes the color of plant foliage. Plants will bleach just like a piece of clothing hung in the sun.
With proper care and maintenance your container plants should look better as the summer progresses. It takes time and patience but it is well worth the effort. If you are not certain ask when you buy the plant or call Gary’s Garden Center for help and advice.