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Container gardens need regular maintenance

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Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 10:08 pm

Container gardens need maintenance on a regular schedule. Plants with roots confined to a pot, window box or any other container must get some attention or they will not last long.

You can control the amount of sun or shade a containerized plant receives by simply moving it to a more favorable location. Houseplants grown for attractive foliage will sunburn rapidly when exposed to the sun, so be on the look out for yellowing and browning soon after you put them outdoors for the summer.

You can pour water on the soil of a potted plant using a gallon milk jug, watering can or garden hose. When water comes flowing out of the container’s drainage hole in large quantities, your plant is wet enough.

Spraying water on your plants in the heat of a summer afternoon will cool them off while removing dust, dirt and aphids that may be feeding on them. Most plants, other than rose and tomato, will thrive on this treatment given on a daily basis. Those two are an exception because they are plagued by some serious leaf blight diseases which become a real problem when their leaves get wet too often.

Fish emulsion and other organic fertilizers derived from plants and animals are needed if your goal is to produce organic vegetables and fruits in containers. Synthetic fertilizers may be a wise choice if organic is not your priority, and they range from products such as Osmocote and Jack’s, to the widely advertised Miracle Gro.

You may need to add potting soil as time goes by and the soil in your pots shrinks due to decomposition. To facilitate the job of watering, keep the soil level just under the rim of the pot where there will be space for water to pool before soaking into the soil.

Spreading mulch over the soil in a pot is helpful. The mulch will make your container garden look good while reducing the need for watering and weeding.

Certain weeds always show up in container gardens. You are much more likely to be pulling up wood sorrel and bitter cress than poison ivy and wiregrass.

Flowers and vegetables need replanting according to the weather and season. The containers of cucumbers and impatiens on your porch can be swapped out at the end of summer for lettuce and spinach or hyacinths and pansies.

Squirrels likely will show up and start digging in your container garden. If this becomes a problem, try sprinkling the soil and plants with some powdered cayenne pepper to repel them.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the water collecting in the saucer under or attached to the bottom of your pots. To prevent them from breeding, empty the saucer weekly or apply a product like Summit Chemical’s Mosquito Bits. It contains spores of a bacterium that kills mosquitoes without any potential to harm people or pets.

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