Do's and Don't of maintaining your baskets for long lasting beauty
Common questions I get regularly is how to keep our baskets looking this beautiful all season long. And there isn't one quick answer, it depends on what plants are in your container. Below I will out line some very important steps to take to maintain your container.
Location, Location, Location
When you enter our greenhouses in May and through out the summer your walking into a plant paradise bursting with colours and hundreds of unique designs we have created. Over years of experience we have learnt what plants work best together in containers and what ones are not compatible. We put together designs for the full hot intense heat ( next to a pool, hanging on a hot wall with concrete below), Full sun (although not as intense), part sun, shade, part shade locations as not every plant is capable of handling all these very different locations. We have tagged all our baskets with a colour coding system for what location to place the basket in, to make your purchasing easier and confident. When creating your own containers it is always important to keep in mind how much sun or shade, and at what time of the day these plants will be getting sun or shade. Petunias are a beautiful cascading wall of colour but if you have most day shade then this plant will turn yellow, not flower as much and then start to rot, in turn ruining your containers' over all appearance. We have knowledgeable staff that can help you choose the right fit for your planters.
There are different methods when it comes to fertilizing and some plants like more fertilizer than others. Overall, majority of sun loving plants will eat more fertilizer then your shade loving plants.
Option 1: Liquid fertilizer; mix with water and water into your container multiple times a week.
Option 2: Slow release fertilizer; a measured amount , depending on size of container, sprinkled into container twice a season.
While Option 2 has become a popular decision for many people, as it is more convenient and less time consuming, it isn't always the best route to take. A list below are plants that need a more regular feeding to keep looking healthy.
Geraniums and petunias : Fertilize three times with liquid fertilizer and then once or twice with clear water. If you have added slow release fertilizer to these then water once or twice a week with liquid fertilizer on top of the slow release.
Begonias: Do not like to be fertilize, If you have a mix container with other plants that like a small amount of fertilizer, add slow release twice a season.
For shade loving annuals Slow release twice a season or liquid fertilizer once weekly is more then enough for majority of these plants, please keep in mind there are a few plants that will tolerate shade and sun but prefer more fertilizer.
Full sun or afternoon sun plants should be fertilized more often and here is why; they will dry out more often sucking up all the nutrients in the soil. The have a much higher blooming rate and need food to supply its demand for growth and blooming. These plants should be liquid fertilized more often than clear watered weekly, or once - twice weekly if slow release has been added to the container.
Remember that plants are a living organism and just like humans they need to be feed! when starved and malnutrition we get week and are more susceptible to sickness, as much is true for plants.
Dead heading and pruning your plant back, or as I like to say giving your plant a hair cut.
Deadheading your plants not only keeps them clean looking it also stops many varieties from putting its energy into producing seed. Once a plant starts to produce seed it is not focusing its energy into creating blossoms anymore, therefore leaving your container looking more green. Many people have good intentions when dead heading by simply pulling the flower blossom from the plant, and while they think there doing good to the plant it is actually speeding up to the process of setting its seeds. You want to go behind the flower blossom to the actual stem of the flower and pinch, or cut, the green stem removing all the flower from the plant. This is especially true in petunias, and while they may have hundreds of flowers if you keep regularly cleaning up the dead flowers it wont become as over whelming.
Mid summer has came around and your plants look like they need a spa date. No problem, a pair of pruners or kitchen scissors can solve it! I recommend to cut at least two-three inches off the bottom of all your flowering trailing flowers, If it is vines or none flowering trailers you do not need to cut unless the have began to look scraggly. By cutting off the bottom of these flowers you are removing any flower buds that have started to go to seed and you are encouraging fresh new breaks and flowers to emerge from higher up on the plant, where it may have started to look green, this is going to give you a healthier fuller looking baskets again. Remember that by giving your plant a hair cut it may take up to a couple weeks before you start to see a prolific amount of blooming again. Feel free to prune your plants in two steps so that your not removing all flowers at once.
I water my basket and instantly water comes pouring out the bottom?
This could be one of two things. First your basket could be too wet. As most of us run on a schedule we get in routine about watering our plants, this is not a good thing, although it is important to check your baskets & containers once or even twice daily, it does not mean they will need water that often. Rule of thumb is when ever possible stick a finger in the soil to about the first or second knuckle, if it is dry then water but if it is wet leave alone to let dry out. Keeping a basket constantly wet will cause week roots that do not grow to the bottom of the container, and eventually cause root rot eventually killing your plant. Plants in the sun should be checked for water morning and afternoon as they will dry out much faster then shadier location.
Second thing this could be is that the soil has gotten too dry and has become hard and come away from the basket, if this is the case get a container put a tablespoon of liquid dishsoap into water and slowly water your container. I sometimes help it along by lightly breaking up the top of the soil. You will actually see the soil "letting go" and go back to the side of the pot. It sounds crazy but Liquid dishsoap has what we call a wetting agent in it that helps the water get back into the soil.