Garden Clippings for June 8, 2019
We’ve all done it. The day before Mother’s Day, we bought a few gorgeous hanging baskets teeming with colour. Mom accepted her gift with delight, put them on the front porch, and watered them faithfully. She watered them daily unless they got water from above.
But by July the lovely hanging baskets have lost their luster. They are still surviving, but are less colourful, stems are leggy and much of the plastic pot is exposed.
The following are 6 suggestions to keep containers looking their best:
- Re-pot hanging baskets into larger pots. Greenhouse operators have the art of growing flowers down to a precise science, with carefully controlled light, water and fertilizer. Most are grown in plastic 8-inch diameter pots that contain only a few handfuls of soil. Transplanting the flowers into 12-inch pots or greater gives them far more moisture and fertilizer holding capacity.
- Choose plants carefully. There are dozens of plants that are specifically geared to growing in containers. Verbenas, Supertunias, Dipladenias and Heliotrope are now bred for success in containers. Any of the Proven Winner plant selections are tested and proven performers for container gardening.
- Fertilize. Professional growers add plant food to their water supply, so their flowers receive a dose of nutrients daily with every watering. Home gardeners would be wise to follow their lead and add water soluble plant food once a week. As a backup, give your plants a few teaspoons of controlled release plant food in June and again in August.
- Prune. By mid-July your planters might be looking worse for ware. Their flowers are weak and the stems are stretched. Don’t be afraid to prune back all the stems to encourage a flush of new vibrant growth. The plants will look awful immediately after pruning, but within 2 weeks they will recover and will enjoy their new lease on life. Some plants such as Cannas, Banana tree and Cyperis King Tut don’t lend themselves to mid-summer pruning but the vast majority of flowers will benefit from the haircut.
- Water faithfully. Hanging baskets need water every day, all summer. Larger containers are more forgiving and can tolerate less frequent watering. If you go away for the weekend, ask a neighbour to water. If your neighbour is unable to help out, temporarily move the plants to the north side of the house or in the shade of trees.
- Dead heading. Flowers such as Geraniums should have their spent flowers removed to encourage new flower production. Remove leaves that are dry or have turned yellow. If the entire plant has dried up because of neglect, give it a severe haircut to encourage revitalization.