fbpx

Container Garden Maintenance

So you’ve already been to your favorite plant nursery (hopefully Randy’s), and taken home lots of gorgeous plants which you’ve planted in all the containers on your front and back porches, the patio, the tree stump still sitting in the middle of the backyard, and the cast iron claw foot tub out by the birdbath.  They’ve looked great for the first couple of weeks, but now they’re in need of a little TLC.  Here are some tips to get those plants back in top form.

Whether you have multiple plants in a single container, or a collection of containers with single plants, knowing the specific needs of each different plant type is important to keep them happy and healthy.

Whether you have multiple plants in a single container, or a collection of containers with single plants, knowing the specific needs of each different plant type is important to keep them happy and healthy. Succulents need attention, even in containers, but a different sort of attention that, say, petunias, geraniums, verbena, or impatiens do.

Like hanging baskets, container gardens require more attention and maintenance than ground planted gardens. Because containers can dry out quickly, frequent watering may be necessary, depending on the water requirements of the plants included in the container garden.  As with hanging baskets, careful watering is required to prevent damage to the plants and their roots, and to fully saturate the soil.  Stick your finger an inch into the soil to determine whether the container is dry.  You may have to water more than once a day during especially warm weather, but be sure to avoid over-watering, which will kill the plants as surely as a complete lack of water does.

Feed your container garden frequently with a light application of fertilizer, such as organic cow-manure pellets and liquid seaweed.  As with watering, be careful not to over-fertilize, as this could prove detrimental to the health of the plants in your container garden.  Plants under stress are more susceptible to disease and pests.  Likely sources of stress for container grown plants are too much or too little water, crowding, excessive fertilization, nutritional imbalances, or being in the wrong environment.  You may need to move your portable container gardens when days become too warm, too sunny, too shady, or too cold for the plants in them.  If you can’t move your container garden, take extra care when plants show signs of stress, but don’t be afraid to pull out plants that just can’t handle the conditions in which they are placed.  If caught early, those removed plants can be replanted in a friendlier environment and contribute pleasure elsewhere.  Pay close attention to the plants in your container garden, frequently checking for pests and signs of disease.  Address those issues as they arise with eco and people friendly treatments.

As with hanging baskets, grooming the plants in your container gardens is critical to maintain maximum bloom and foliage appeal.  Deadheading and pruning when plants get leggy will keep the plants neat and encourage growth and blooms.  You can always give a newly pruned container garden a rest in a quiet location until it is once again full of new growth and flower buds.  Don’t be afraid to remove sickly or underperforming plants from the container garden.  Replacing removed plants will depend on whether there’s still room in the container for an addition, or whether there’s really a need for a new plant to liven up things in the container garden again.

This container garden's needs will depend on several factors

This container garden’s needs will depend on several factors, such as outdoor temperatures, light, the ability of the planting medium or container to retain moisture, and how windy its location is.

Keep an eye out for stressed plants within the container, and react quickly before they succumb to the heat or lack of water.

The petunias in this container garden are pretty heat tolerant and their furry leaves will protect them from drying out quickly. The coleus or daisy, however, may dry out and wilt before the petunia shows any signs of stress. Keep an eye out for stressed plants within the container, and react quickly before they succumb to the heat or lack of water. You can always remove struggling plants and replace them with some whose needs are similar to the remaining plants in the container.

 

Sources:

University of Florida IFAS Extension website.  Search for “outdoor container gardens”.

Organicgardening.com.  Search for “organic fertilizer outdoor containers”.

Leave a Reply