Best ways to pot around with plants


The trou­ble with pots is that they dry out.

To gar­den in pots re­quires a com­mit­ment the ground-gar­dener does not need.

Pot plants need al­most con­stant wa­ter­ing, fer­til­is­ing and more wa­ter­ing.

Dur­ing a hot and dry sum­mer, is grow­ing plants in pots the best way to con­serve wa­ter?

A col­lec­tion of dried and wiz­ened plants at the front door is not a good look and for feng shui en­thu­si­asts it is not a healthy en­trance­way to your home.

So what to do? For­tu­nately, there are many ways to pro­duce lush and boun­ti­ful plants grown in pots, given the amount of helpers avail­able, such as slow-re­lease fer­tilis­ers, mois­ture-hold­ing prod­ucts and wa­ter­ing sys­tems.

Hang­ing bas­kets let you en­joy gar­den­ing at eye level and can beau­tify a dowdy pa­tio corner or brighten a blank wall.

Plants can be grown in many sorts of con­tain­ers which can be placed at a suit­able height for those who find it dif­fi­cult to reach down to ground level.

Weeds are also eas­ily taken care of in a con­fined space such as a pot or bas­ket.

If it is the plant you want to shine, in­stead of the pot, then choose a plain pot such as ter­ra­cotta.

These are clas­si­cally pop­u­lar pots, use­ful not just in the gar­den, but in the kitchen as bread-bak­ing con­tain­ers or stor­age con­tain­ers else­where in the home.

Ter­ra­cotta pots have the ad­van­tage of let­ting ex­cess wa­ter out through their por­ous sides, but the con­verse is also true that they dry out more quickly than plas­tic pots.

One way to pre­vent this, if you are grow­ing non-ed­i­ble plants, is to line the pot with a plas­tic bag, en­sur­ing you have poked holes in the bot­tom for drainage first, or sim­ply slip a plas­tic pot into the clay pot, with the plant growth dis­guis­ing the fact.

Be­cause of mois­ture es­cap­ing, if the clay pot is kept moist, moulds and al­gae can form on the out­side of it, so a yearly clean with bleach is usu­ally rec­om­mended by man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Glazed clay pots hold mois­ture much more ef­fec­tively.

How­ever, plant roots are able to breathe bet­ter in a clay pot and do not heat up as much as a darker-coloured plas­tic con­tainer.

If a bright pot is re­quired in your gar­den, then most plas­tic or ter­ra­cotta pots are eas­ily painted.

These are great gift-mak­ing projects for the kids.

If you are hav­ing wooden troughs or planters built this sum­mer, en­sure you use un­treated tim­ber if you are grow­ing food. The toxic chem­i­cals used to treat the tim­ber could be taken up by your veg­eta­bles or herbs.

If you like the longevity of treated tim­ber, line it with black poly­thene be­fore fill­ing with soil.

Other con­tain­ers, as var­ied as your imag­i­na­tion, can be lined with sphag­num moss which is ex­cel­lent at hold­ing mois­ture, or sheep’s wool – I heard of some­one’s grand­fa­ther who used daggy wool to line his hang­ing bas­kets.

Size is not im­por­tant ei­ther – your con­tain­ers could be as small as a pair of old boots or as large as a row­ing boat to add char­ac­ter and charm to your gar­den.

To keep your pot plants healthy, they need reg­u­lar food as well as wa­ter. Pot­ting mix, rather than gar­den soil, must be used, and slow-re­lease pel­lets can be mixed in be­fore plant­ing or poked in af­ter­wards – they will help your plant get all it needs.

If you want low main­te­nance, plant suc­cu­lents. They re­quire less wa­ter­ing and are more for­giv­ing if you for­get.

What­ever sort of plant­ings, car­ing for pot­ted plant gar­dens can give a lot of plea­sure.

Waste not want not: An old pair of boots planted with tough suc­cu­lents adds charm to any gar­den.

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