Tak­ing care of con­tainer plants

Go Gardening - - Outdoor Living -

Plants thrive in warm well-drained potting mix, but to re­main healthy they need a lit­tle more wa­ter­ing and feed­ing than the av­er­age gar­den plant. Top qual­ity con­tainer mixes give a bal­anced blend of in­gre­di­ents de­signed to com­bine op­ti­mum drainage with best pos­si­ble water hold­ing ca­pac­ity. Most also con­tain con­trolled re­lease fer­tiliser to get plants off to a healthy start.

FEED­ING

Plants in pots need more fre­quent feed­ing than those grow­ing in the ground. Feed lit­tle and of­ten with liq­uid fer­tiliser or use con­trolled-re­lease fer­tiliser. Con­cen­trated pow­dered fer­tilis­ers are best avoided for plants in pots as they can burn roots. Quick grow­ing an­nu­als re­spond well to fre­quent feed­ing with liq­uid fer­tiliser, but make sure your potting mix is moist be­fore ap­ply­ing.

WA­TER­ING

In sum­mer, daily wa­ter­ing is the nec­es­sary norm for plants in pots. In very hot dry weather you may need to water twice a day, espe­cially when its windy. Windy weather ac­cel­er­ates water loss through leaf and pot sur­faces.

SAV­ING SUM­MER WATER

Choos­ing drought tol­er­ant plants is a great place to start if you want to water less over the hot sum­mer months. The next trick is to slow down water loss by evap­o­ra­tion. Hot sum­mer tem­per­a­tures and air move­ment con­spire to strip mois­ture from plant and pot sur­faces, so its best to avoid windy lo­ca­tions, espe­cially for hang­ing bas­kets. Pots grouped to­gether can shel­ter each other. The choice of pot will also make a big dif­fer­ence; big is gen­er­ally bet­ter when there is a need to con­serve water. It might be time to swap all those lit­tle pots for a few larger ones. Its worth set­ting up fixed ir­ri­ga­tion drip­pers, espe­cially if you have a lot of pots. If pots are grouped to­gether, it’s easy to run a hid­den length of ir­ri­ga­tion tub­ing be­hind them. Wet­ting agents, such as Sat­u­raid help water to spread through­out the potting mix rather than wash­ing straight through. Top qual­ity potting mixes of­ten con­tain wet­ting agent. Oth­er­wise you can mix it in your­self. Glazed and plas­tic pots hold water for longer than por­ous clay pots. For large pots a cov­er­ing layer of peb­bles helps slow evap­o­ra­tion from the sur­face of the potting mix. Sphag­num moss can hold up to 20 times its own weight in water and makes a very good liner for hang­ing bas­kets.

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