I love container gardens! Big ones, tiny ones. Window boxes, hanging planters. Beautiful pots of every size, color and shape filled with beauty and creativity. But, these gardens require some special care to keep them healthy and growing.
First, and most important, monitor each container’s watering needs. Depending on the type and location of your container garden, watering schedules will vary. Containers in a sunny or windy location will likely need watering more frequently, sometimes even daily. Non-porous containers of metal or plastic for instance, may need watering less frequently. How to tell if your containers need water? Very simply, use a bamboo skewer! Just like using a toothpick to test a cake, use a foot-long bamboo skewer to test if the soil is damp. Stick the skewer in the soil, waited a minute, then pull it out. If it remains dry and nothing sticks to the skewer, time to water. If the skewer is slightly damp, and small grains of dirt cling to the skewer (just like uncooked batter clings to a toothpick) it is probably fine!
Container gardens will also need you to keep them fed so they keep blooming. I like to use Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Bloom Booster® Flower Food, but any water-soluble plant food is fine. Just make sure to look for the nutrient breakdown on the packaging, a series of three numbers indicating their support of leaf-flower-roots. You want a food with a high number in the middle to promote great flowing in your container gardens. The trick to getting the most nutrition to your plants is to water first, wait about 30 minutes, then water again with your water soluble fertilizer. That way the supplements will stay in the soil longer, giving your plants more time to snack!
The final secret to beautiful container gardens is to pinch back and deadhead! Pinching back spent stems will encourage branching out resulting in fuller growth. Removing the spent blooms will encourage flowering plants to bloom even more. Don't be afraid to pinch back hard - you will have more blooms to enjoy!
With a little attention and care, your summer containers can carry color through into the early fall, providing lasting beauty to any area of your landscape!