Now that you have your patio and garden looking fabulous for the summer, it’s time to think about maintaining and caring for your gardens. One of the hardest things a lot of our customers find, is to keep your baskets and containers looking good for the long haul. The reason is simple, there is a whole lot of plant material in such a small area, with a small amount of soil. In general, the smaller the pot or basket, the more quickly the soil dries out and needs watering. This can make keeping up with the watering challenging in the summer months.
The following three points are key in the maintenance and care of your gardens pots and hanging baskets. Those three keys factors are water, fertilizer and other maintenance. We know we have talked about this in previous blogs, but these are the keys to your success....Let us elaborate a little bit for you:
Watering can be one of the hardest tasks in the maintenance of your hanging basket or container garden. You can't keep the soil too wet because it will result in root rot problems, you can't keep it too dry or the plant wilts and dies. You want to hit the happy medium, easier said than done…we know! Here are the rules of thumb we suggest for watering hanging baskets:
· Be sure your pot has drainage holes, to allow the flow of water through your plants
· Water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch, or if you give your basket a slight lift, and it feels light
· Water until water comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom
· Don’t allow your pot to sit in standing water
· Early in spring when the temperatures are lower, you may only have to water every 3 or 4 days. As summer approaches you may find you need to water every day. Also something a lot of people may forget about, if it is windy, you may also find you are having to water more frequently specially hanging baskets
· Remember, just because you bought 4 of the exact same baskets, they are all in the same or similar exposure doesn’t mean they all require the same amount of water. Test out the soil prior to watering to be sure, so that you are not over watering.
Yes your plants are just like us! They require nutrients to flourish, and they are only getting nutrition if you provide it to them. Fertilizing is something that can often be overlooked, but is vital in the success you will have in your garden. We will generally recommend adding a 15-30-15 fertilizer once every one-two weeks. Follow the directions on the fertilizer packet if you are unsure. Everyone has their own methods and things that work for them, so test it out. Click here for more in depth information on fertilizers and what the numbers mean.
There are two other things you may want to do to help maintain your basket for the long-haul. First, some plants may need deadheading to keep your plants in bloom. Deadheading is the simple removal of dead or dying flowers. Plants like geraniums and petunias require deadheading more often for a continual bloom, but Lobelia and Allysum are classified as ‘self cleaning’. If you are unsure, simply inspect your plants as you water and fertilize them, and remove the flowers that are spent. This will keep your planters and baskets looking fresh all summer long.
Another issue some people may face is your baskets or planters are starting to become a bit stretched or leggy, and don’t be afraid, this happens even if you are doing everything right! If this happens, it isn’t a bad idea to give your basket a little trim. This is as simple as taking a sharp pair of scissors or shears and trim a few inches off the entire basket. How much you cut off is entirely up to you, a light trim of an inch or two is usually plenty, but there are times when a bigger trim might be needed. Use your judgment. If you have long trailing pieces that you don't like, feel free to cut them off as well. Giving the basket a haircut will rob you of some flowers (which should come back withing a few days to a week given water and fertilizer) but it will increase branching, tighten the habit, and help keep the basket looking good long-term.
Then just sit back and ENJOY!!!
Here is a quick little tip from one of our staff to set you off this weekend. Don't forget we have our 'SIZZLING SIDEWALK SALE this Saturday June 21!
Whether you have a small patio or acreage in the country, adding art pieces/accessories that enhance your cherished plants will take your garden to the next level. Choosing art work is a completely subjective process. It's as if your brain steps back and something inside of you responds to an art work. From person to person, everyone has their own opinion and likes and dislikes. And that's as it should be.
Looking and shopping for these items is a large part of the enjoyment. They can be useful as well as decorative such as bird baths, or a small metal bird to perch on your fence, or a large stone sculpture that commands attention. It's fun to go to craft fairs and galleries, and to look at the latest array of styles of accessories at the garden store, or to look for treasures at garage sales. Even better, if you have the opportunity, is to make these items yourself.
There is no right or wrong way of choosing - just please yourself! Your garden already is a creative work (in process always) and by adding carefully chosen accessories or art work, it becomes even more personal and reflective of who you are.
Now go, enjoy your gardens!
-West Coast Gardens