Container care: looking after container plants
Caring for container plants can be both rewarding and challenging. Unlike their counterparts in the ground, container plants have limited space in which to grow, and a smaller supply of nutrients Container plants require an extra level of care to ensure they are getting enough water and room for growth. There are a few things to consider when caring for these plants that will dictate the level of care they require. Although these plants will need a bit of extra love, they will be a joy to look at and add colour and variety to your garden.
When preparing your plant pots, its important to make sure there are some drainage holes in the bottom so that the soil doesn’t get water-logged. Place the pot down in the position you’d like it to be, to save any heavy lifting once the pot is full. You should fill the pot with locally purchased soil, as soil from your garden may have unwanted weeds or insects. After adding the right amount of water to your soil as per the bags instruction, pour enough of the soil to fill the base. Before popping in your plants, gently tap the soil to work out any air pockets, make sure not to pack the soil down too much.
Like the name suggests, container plants are isolated in their own containers meaning they will need a bit of extra care and attention to make sure they are getting the same level of nutrients and moisture as their friends in the ground. In the summer you will need to water your plants regularly as the sun will be quick to dry out the soil, and evaporate moisture before the plant gets a look in. The need for more water will flush out nutrients in the soil, so supplementing with a water-soluble fertiliser every few weeks will keep your plants and flowers thriving.
As you might expect, some of your plants will thrive in the sun, however there are many plants that prefer the shade, or a mixture of the two. Potted flowers such as dahlias, zinnias, and lantanas will flourish in direct sunlight. In contrast, flowers such as fuchsia, begonia, and impatiens much prefer shaded areas. Plants such as ferns and Persian shields will do well with a healthy balance of both light, and shade. Understanding each plant and their unique needs will help to keep them alive and well. Your shaded plants will still need regular watering despite not being in full sun for long periods of time.
Deadheading your container plants is an important practice to uphold in order to promote your plant’s growth and encourage new blooms. It involves removing dead or dying blooms and flowers from your plants. While it might seem like an unnecessary task, it actually helps your plants channel all their energy into growing new buds, leading to a healthier and more vibrant garden. For plants with smaller flowers and stems, it will be more efficient to shear the plant back to roughly a third of its original size. This will save you time and effort, as opposed to picking off every tiny deadhead. It may seem counter productive to cut back these beautiful plants, but you will reap the rewards when they reappear year after year in vivid bloom.