Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Container Gardening by Arlene

Arlene’s Container Gardening Tips

Container gardening can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Here are some tips I’ve gathered through the years to be successful:

Choosing the right container


TIP - Choose a container that is at least 12” in diameter. Smaller containers dry out very quickly in hot weather. The container must also have drainage holes to allow for moisture to drain out if over-watering occurs or if they are out in rain.

There are many different containers to choose from to hang or place on the ground. There are wire baskets with a coco liner or lined with sphagnum moss; plastic, fiberglass, self-watering; glazed, terra cotta, metal and wooden containers.
TIP - When using clay or terra cotta, soak the container in a tub of water until the air bubbles subside before you pot them up, to avoid drying out the soil. Also, place a saucer of water underneath to keep them moist.
TIP – When using baskets lined with either a coco liner or sphagnum, put a plastic liner punched with holes, over-top of the coco or sphagnum liner and then plant your plants. The basket will not dry out so quickly.

Darker coloured containers attract the heat more than lighter coloured ones, so keep that in mind if you plan on spending weekends away. Use light coloured containers for the sunny spots.

Choosing the right soil

A peat based soil less mix dries out more quickly than a quality potting soil. Choose a quality potting soil specific for containers or hanging baskets that contain key nutrients. Consider using a product such as Soil Moist that contains water crystals that hold water and release it into the soil as it dries. Soil Moist is added to the soil before you plant. Add compost to enrich your soil.
TIP – Don’t use soil from the garden as it will compact, be heavy and may contain insect or disease.

Choosing the right plants

Choose the right plants for the conditions (sun or shade). If you get away on the weekends and have your hanging baskets or containers in hot dry sun, choose annuals such as Geraniums, Strawflower, Portulaca, Million bells, Osteospermum, Cosmos, Lantana. Scaevola, Marigolds, Heliotrope, Salvia, Celosia, Verbena, Gazania, Ice Plant, or Castor Bean, to name a few, that will tolerate a lot of hot and dry.

Keeping your plants healthy

Add compost to enrich the soil before you plant or use a slow release fertilizer that breaks down with heat and moisture.  Some slow release fertilizers last for up to four months.  If you haven’t improved the soil, you may also want to use a water soluble fertilizer or an organic fertilizer such as sea weed or fish emulsion to supplement until the slow release fertilizer starts breaking down.

Remove the spent flowers by removing the flower head right back to the stem to keep the plant from going to seed.

Checking for insects and disease
Check for insects and disease regularly and deal with the problem immediately before the plants gets stressed or destroyed.

Water your hanging baskets or containers slowly to insure the entire container is moist.  For hanging baskets, you may want to submerge the basket in a bucket of water until air bubbles subside. This way you know the basket is very well watered.
TIP – The feeder roots will gravitate to the outside of the container so make sure the soil at the edges of the container is well watered.
Water bulbs are available to fill and leave in your container when you are away.  I have also filled 2 litre plastic bottles, punched a few holes in them and turned them upside down in a large to container to drip water slowly into the soil when I am away for a few days.

The use of mulch in containers also helps keep in moisture and keep the soil cool.

TIP – if you are going to be away for a number of days and are not able to have someone come in to water while you are away, you might consider moving smaller baskets and containers inside or into a shady, sheltered area outside to keep them from drying out in the hot sun.

TIP – If you have planted perennials or shrubs in containers for the summer, make sure you remove them from the container and get them planted into the ground by the middle to the end of September to insure they settle in before winter.

These are some tips that I have used over the years to keep my hanging baskets and containers looking in top shape all summer long!  If you keep your plants healthy, they will be able to survive on their own through periods of both drought and a lot of rain!

Posted by Tammy Jensen at 1:24 PM 0 Comments

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Container Gardening - Drop by and we can help you today with your containers!

Container Gardening

Before you start:

Change the potting mix every year. A basket/container mix works best. By the time the season is over, all nutrients in the mixture will have been used up. Recycle used potting soil in your compost or work it into existing flower beds.

Picking your plants:

Think about where the container will be placed and select plants that require similar growing conditions (such as full sun or shade, moist or dry soil, sheltered or not), yet have different growth habits and bloom times. For high-traffic areas, consider adding fragrant foliage plants such as lavender, thyme and rosemary.

Thrillers, Fillers, Spillers 

These three words, coined by garden designer Steve Silk, capture the essence of good container design. In the artful container, anything goes.
Foliage only, or a mix of annuals, perennials, shrubs, herbs, summer bulbs, ornamental grasses, small evergreens, vines and tropical plants are all appropriate. It's entirely your choice.


The tall, upright, eye-catcher placed either in the centre or off-centre in the container; plant it first. For a tropical look  try cannas, coleus, or Palm Grasses.  Ornamental   Grasses of all kinds make great Thrillers.  Decidious or evergreen shrubs also work great.

Try using roses, a small Japanese maple, an azalea standard or your favourite shrub or evergreen as the star of your container. In the fall, remove perennials, trees and shrubs from containers and plant them in the garden three to six weeks before the ground freezes


Take up mid-ground space without distracting from the thriller. Begonias, lantanas, salvias, parsley, low-growing grasses and numerous other foliage and flowering plants fall into this category.


Plants that flow over the edges of containers: sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas), ivies, trailing geranium,  petunias, Bacopa and Bidens  and no doubt many more discoveries you'll make at your local garden centre.

Getting Started
•First water all plants in their cell packs or store-bought pots.
•Fill your pots with a special container potting mix such as Smart Mix.  These mixes are specially formulated for your containers.  Leave five to eight centimetres between the top of the soil and the rim of the container to allow water to slowly penetrate the root system rather than run off the surface.
•Add a tablespoon of slow release fertilizer and mix into the upper part of the soil.
•Water the soil mixture.
•Arrange your plants and plant them at the same depth they are currently at in their cell packs
•Give the container one more watering.

•If the mix feels dry to the touch approximately one inch below the surface, then it is time to water your container garden. 
•Due to the amount of water that container gardens require it is a good idea to fertilize them on a regular basis with a water soluble fertilizer such as Ultrabloom at least once every two weeks.
•Caution should be exercised to prevent over watering, which can lead to root rot. Gardeners should also keep in mind that plastic containers will fade in the sun. Therefore, placing colored plastic containers in a shady location will promote a nice appearance for a longer time.
•Removing spent blooms will encourage the growth of new blossoms. This will keep your flowers looking colorful throughout the season.


If you need help designing your planter - drop by with your pots and we can help you pot it up at our container gardening area! On fridays from 9-5 Arlene Wheeler is in just to help you with your containers. We have a great selection of containers to pick from if you need new ones!




Posted by Tammy Jensen at 8:48 PM 0 Comments