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Annuals forum: Tips for Container Planting

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Views: 973, Replies: 35 » Jump to the end
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
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Joannabanana
Feb 23, 2010 5:19 PM CST
TIPS FOR CONTAINERS
Spring is fast approaching and the mad rush to plant your seedlings or pick up your bedding plants will soon be on. Listed below are a few tips that may help you create some beautiful containers, and help your plants last the entire season.

The Container
• Don’t skimp on pot size. If you want big plants, they need room for their root system.
• There are some very affordable beautiful containers now available. Do keep in mind that dark pots tend to heat up a lot in hot weather and Terra Cotta pots dry out very quickly in dry climates. I usually put a smaller plastic pot insert in my terra cotta pots since it is very dry here.
• The tall vase style pots may need extra weight (sand, rocks) to keep it from toppling over if there is a strong wind. The extra large pots may not need to be filled completely with soil. Only 2/3 of soil with a bottom filler of empty cans or Styrofoam may be plenty, but do keep in mind that plant roots will need a fair amount of space so don't skimp. A smaller pot insert will also work.
• Drain holes are important, so drill extra holes if your container has only a few. If you have a planter with a removable base, drop a wide head screw in one drain hole to keep the drain holes lined up if you move the planter around. Some times moving the pot will twist the base and the drain holes will not line up and then the plants will drown. 'Bin there, done that.
• Place a small piece of landscape fabric, window screen or plastic scrubbing pad over the drain holes. Small rocks may plug your drain holes and may add too much weight to your container if you need to relocate it.
• Elevate the pots off the ground with pot feet for easier draining.
• In an open area self-watering pots may not drain fast enough in a downpour, leaving your soil sopping wet and your plants at risk of drowning. Do check them and dump the reservoir after a lot of rain.

The Soil
• Use FRESH potting mixture specifically mixed for containers. I like Premeir Pro-Mix BX
• If you are using a potting mix with added water-absorbing polymers, follow the instructions carefully.
• Never extinguish cigarettes in a plant pot, as dry peat moss is highly ignitable.
• Add a slow release fertilizer at planting time

Plant Selection
• Choose like-for-like plants with similar sun and water requirements for each container.
• Size the plants to the scale of the planter. For example, big pots should have big plants. If you have a larger planter 20” diameter and are planting petunias, buy 10 “petunia hanging basket and re-plant it in the middle of your container. Purple wave petunias are very striking with white bacopa around the edge. A tea rose with an assortment of herbs around it is also quite nice.
• Keep the "look" consistent. If you have chosen a tropical look, such as canna lilies, plant it with trailing foliage plants, and no other flowers.
• Complimentary colors are blue/orange; purple/yellow; red/white. Examples of colors that harmonize with each other are indigo and fuchsia or the reds to oranges.
• Echo colors. Find a solid color flower that matches the throat, fleck or stripe in a petal of another flower. Foliage and stems may have colors to echo (pink, purple, lime, etc.) Echo colors or add interest with some decorative décor accents.
• Try three different foliage textures in one container. Grasses are a nice choice.
• Fill your container with a mix of plants - tall, bushy and trailing. Often the magazines say " thrillers, fillers & spillers"

Planting
• Evening is the best time to plant as cool temperatures allow the plants to adjust to their new home with reduced stress. Water the plants before transplanting.
• Pre-moisten your soil first. If you squeeze it a trickle of water will come out.
After you have covered the drain holes with screen, half fill the pot with soil and push down the soil a bit to eliminate air pockets.
• As you place your plants, locate tall plants in the middle, with trailing plants along the edge. Depending on your choice, the more plants the better. There will be less bare surface soil & the moisture level will remain more consistent with more plants per pot. For common plants such as petunias, pansies, bacopa, impatiens or lobelia, space plants about 1” apart. A 12” pot may contain one to eight plants, depending on the plant choice, so check what the plant variety mature height and spread is. One Tidal Wave petunia is all you need for a 16" pot, where as 5 Wave petunias would really fill the same size pot.
• Continue to fill the container with soil mix and eliminate air pockets, until the soil level is at least ¾”from the top of the planter. Otherwise, the water will not seep into the soil and will run over the sides.
• Add a slow release fertilizer & be sure to cover it with at least ½” of soil.
• Add a layer of long strand sphagnum moss, decorative pebble or small wood nugget mulch on the soil surface to keep the moisture level consistent.

Watering & Fertilizing
• Water containers until the water runs out the drain holes. You will probably need to water every day when the temperatures are over 25 C (77 F) if you are in a dry climate. Plants will do better with rainwater, so a rain barrel may be helpful. It's warm and has no chlorine and other chemicals.
• Fertilizing is important since container become depleted of nutrients very quickly. I have success with a good low-release fertilizer for containers (i.e. Smartcote). Other options are to add a water-soluble fertilizer once a week to containers. Some gardeners use both slow release and water-soluble fertilizers at 1/2 strength once a month in the summer months.
• If you buy a container planted with assorted plants, repot it into a bigger container & add slow release fertilizer. I often buy a 10" assorted hanging basket and repot it into a 1/2 barrel. It will become enormous and will last until fall.
• Consider using a bloom booster fertilizer in August to keep your annuals going strong until fall.

Backup Plans
• Do some winter sowning, plant a few extra bedding plants in your flowerbeds for backup inventory, in case you need to replant a container mid-summer. If you have a casualty in late season, don't despair, there are some nice silks at the dollar store that will fill the gap. Often winter sown seedlings are the perfect size to add to a container later in the season.

Check out http://www.provenwinners.com for some great container ideas and plant descriptions. Happy Planting!


Thumb of 2010-02-23/Joannabanana/8ea767
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (zone 5) (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
Seed Starter Herbs Vegetable Grower Cut Flowers Butterflies Birds
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mom2goldens
Feb 23, 2010 7:56 PM CST
Joanna: you need to publish a book on container gardening. Those containers are so lush and full. How do you keep your petunias from getting leggy in mid-summer?
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
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Joannabanana
Feb 23, 2010 8:09 PM CST
That picture was taken September 18th, so the end of the season.

The variety of petunia makes a huge difference. You want "free flowering" trailing types. This includes all the Waves, Ramblin' Avalanche and Supertunias.

Petunias are fertilizer junkies. Water lots and fertilize lots. Maximum bloom with high middle number in fertilizer.

That's really how you get the big BALLS. Note: The pink petunia in the urns beside the table is one plant per pot. Hot Pink Tidal Wave
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Barbara
North Pole, Alaska
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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chocolatemoose
Feb 23, 2010 8:17 PM CST
Joanne needs to write a gardening book period. I don't know anyone who has her wealth of knowledge on so many topics at the tip of their tongue (typing fingers) who is not either an author (in which case I don't know them...) or a college professor with a horticultural Phd and Dr. before their name.

It's like--Joanne Speaks-I Listen

And she doesn't sleep. I think she just plugs herself into a charger and walks around on auto-recharge all day long...

Okay, I'm envious, I'll admit it Rolling on the floor laughing

Name: Linda
Carmel, IN (zone 5) (Zone 5a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member Region: Indiana Dog Lover Container Gardener
Seed Starter Herbs Vegetable Grower Cut Flowers Butterflies Birds
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mom2goldens
Feb 23, 2010 8:41 PM CST
I'm in awe. I wish I had just a fraction of her knowledge, and half of her energy.
Name: Barbara
North Pole, Alaska
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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chocolatemoose
Feb 23, 2010 8:55 PM CST
Linda...Okay, you get 1/2 and I get 1/2 'cause we put in first dibbs
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Feb 23, 2010 9:07 PM CST
Joanne:"Do some winter sowning, plant a few extra bedding plants in your flowerbeds for backup inventory, in case you need to replant a container mid-summer. If you have a casualty in late season, don't despair, there are some nice silks at the dollar store that will fill the gap. Often winter sown seedlings are the perfect size to add to a container later in the season."
That struck me as really funny. I would never think to stick a silk flower into a bad looking flower pot! I'm not good at replacing one after the fact either. I usually end up mangling something else and killing it in the process.

I think Joanne not only has a green thumb but also nimble fingers.

Karen
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Mar 21, 2010 6:33 AM CST
I always add polymer gels to my containers.. but make sure to expand them before adding them ... don't learn the hard way that you added too much... looked like something out of the blob movie my first time with them
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Mar 21, 2010 7:07 AM CST
Allison, what kind of potting mix do you use in your bloommaster pots? Do you amend it with anything? Use the polymer crystals in them, too? Mine were the story of extremes last year- going from too wet to too dry really fast.

Karen
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Onewish1
Mar 21, 2010 7:26 AM CST
last year I was able to pick up promix from Holly out in PA... and yes every level gets some gels & slow release fertilizer.... start with some mix on the bottom... add fertilizer and some gels... plant the first row... cover with mix and repeat until full ... years prior I used MG mixed with peat and pearlite to make them lighter... well sort of.. they still weigh a ton either way .. but even with the MG... gels & slow release is my way
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Mar 21, 2010 7:44 AM CST
Thanks, I'll try the gels this year.

Karen
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Onewish1
Mar 21, 2010 8:09 AM CST
don't make my mistake... expand them first!!!
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Mar 21, 2010 8:29 AM CST
Yes, I always soak them in water for a while first. One teaspoon full with fill a big cup.

Karen
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
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Joannabanana
Mar 21, 2010 8:50 AM CST
Here's what I do for strawberry pots. I made tubes with a tree wrap and heavy cotton string to wick to each plant. The terra cotta pots dry out really fast. Also do not place the root balls in the cups, make sure they are in the pot

Thumb of 2010-03-21/Joannabanana/c5f026
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
Image
Joannabanana
Mar 21, 2010 8:55 AM CST
Cover drain hole with screen or landscape fabric. Fill with potting soil to the level of bottom cups. place tube with wicking string to each cup and fill tube with vermiculite. Place the root ball in the big pot, not the cup.

Continue with this until you reach the top

Thumb of 2010-03-21/Joannabanana/1da81d
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
Image
Joannabanana
Mar 21, 2010 8:57 AM CST
The plants will fill in nicely

Thumb of 2010-03-21/Joannabanana/5a4c85
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
Image
Joannabanana
Mar 21, 2010 8:58 AM CST
A completed pot

Thumb of 2010-03-21/Joannabanana/eeb4f8
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Roses Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing
Image
Joannabanana
Mar 21, 2010 9:00 AM CST
Alpine strawberries are great since it will produce berries continually until hard frost in the fall

Thumb of 2010-03-21/Joannabanana/20431c
Avatar is a freehand sketch by my teenage daughter. Hybrid Tea "Just Joey"
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hummingbirder Region: New Jersey Dog Lover
Seed Starter Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Onewish1
Mar 21, 2010 11:20 AM CST
good to know about the tree wrap ... so many great ideas
Name: Bev
Garner, NC 7b
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: North Carolina Irises Dog Lover Hostas
Bulbs
tggfisk
Mar 26, 2010 4:57 AM CST
Nice tutorial, Joanne:)

Agree about the gels, lol! First time I used them, I wondered just how many of those crazy thing were actually in that pot...they just kept on comin'. Blinking

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