When combining different plants for containers, the possibilities are endless. Plant “filler” plants in the middle and “spiller” plants in front, or at the edge, of your container. The filler plants will grow upright or spread to keep the top of the container full. The spillers will trail over the side of the container. A “thriller” plant is optional. A tall thriller plant in the center of the combination, will become the focal point.
A proper water and fertilizing strategy is the single most important part of keeping plants healthy all season long. “How often and how much do I water my plants?” The answer depends on a number of variables… type of plant, container size, sun exposure and temperature. I can start by giving you a better understanding of plants and watering needs.
General Rule: Watering is a balancing act.. overwatering or allowing plants to dry out too much will cause plants to suffer, thus looking stunted or sick. As a general rule, water plants when the soil feels dry to the touch. During the warm days of summer, most plants need water at least every day. (see plant care instructions for specific plant requirements) It is best to water plants in the morning.
For hanging baskets that demand an average amount of water, a range of 2 to 3 liters of water per day will be adequate. During a long stretch of hot sunny days, it is o.k. to water until the water runs out of the drain holes. (ie. every 5 – 7 waterings)
Watering Strategy for Vigorous Plants
Hanging baskets with vigorous plants, such as petunias, million bells, black eyed susan, verbena, scaveola, bacopa and most mixed baskets, may need water twice on hot, sunny days. On such sunny, hot days, it is a good idea to water these vigorous plants until water drains out the holes on the bottom of the basket. This ensures that the moisture reaches the deepest roots.
Watering Strategy for Plants that Prefer to be on the Dry Side
Plants such as Reiger begonias, NonStop begonias, succulents and tropicals (mandevilla, dipladenia, bougainvillea) require water only when soil feels dry to the touch. There is no need to allow water to drain out the bottom holes of the containers. Reiger and NonStop begonias are susceptible to black stem rot if they are over-watered.
Watering Strategy for Planted Patio Containers
If you plant your own containers, such as patio pots and window boxes, water only when the soil feels dry to the touch. Do NOT water to the point that water runs out of the bottom drain holes.. at least not until the roots are well established.
I hope this provides you with a good starting point. Remember, it takes time to perfect a watering strategy that meets all of your plants’ requirements.
Bring plants indoors before the first frost of the season. With most plants, it fine to cut them back by one half or two thirds to reduce their size. Remove any damaged leaves and spray with a mild soap or a natural (non-pesticide) spray to keep any possible pests in check. It may be a good idea to place the plants in shade for a week or two, before bringing them indoors. This will minimize plant shock.
Plants that favour a warm, bright location:
Acalypha (Chenille, Foxtail), Alternanthera, Rex Begonias, Reiger Begonias, Solenia Begonias, NonStop Begonias, Coleus, Croton, Elephant Ear’s (Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosoma), Allamanda, Tropical Hibiscus, Mandevilla, Dipladenia, Bougainvillea, Oleander, Passionflower, Plectranthus (Mona Lavender, Persian Shield).
Plants that favour a cool, bright location:
Agave, Cordyline, Dracena Spike, Echeveria, Lantana, New Zealand Flax, Plumbago
These plants will grow fine in front of a large window.. preferably with east, west or southern exposure. I turn the plants every few weeks to allow all sides to absorb some sun. Water plants only after the soil dries out. The air inside homes can become too dry in the winter time. To overcome this problem I group plants together so that they can provide humidity for one another. Setting a pot overtop of a water dish/try will also help, but do not place or submerge the pot into the water. A humidifier is another option. Remember that some leaf drop is normal when plants are brought indoors.
Winter dormant plants should be kept in a cool, dark location
Banana, Calla Lily, Canna Lily, Dahlia, These plants must be stored with minimal moisture.
When spring is near, do not rush to get plants outside. Be sure that the risk of frost is over and temperatures will stay warm. Keep the plants in shade for two weeks before placing them into direct sunlight.
Spring is here! You are anxious to put plants outside, but is it too early? Some plants are safe to be brought outside in early spring.
Group 1 plants can be placed outside the earliest. As long as temperatures are not forecasted to drop below freezing for the next 10 days, you should be able to move these plants outdoors with no worries. Otherwise, protect these plants if temperatures are forecasted to drop below 5 C or 40F.
Group 2 plants can be brought outside when temperatures are much less likely to drop near freezing. These plants should be protected when night temperatures drop near 10 C or 50 F.
Group 3 plants can be easily damaged by cold temperatures and cool winds. These plants cannot be brought out until the later part of may. Protect these plants from temperatures below 16 C or 60 F.
Planting into the ground can be done after the soil has warmed up.. usually by the 20th or 24th of may.