Darrell Blackwelder: Maintenance tips for container gardens

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

Container gardens are now extremely popular, especially where traditional flower beds are not possible. There are some maintenance requirements necessary for them to standout in the landscape. Most floral planters that are well established with annuals and perennials require a bit of continuous care. Here are few maintenance chores needed for extended season long growth.

• Check soil moisture often. Container plants can dry out in a matter of hours, especially in extremely hot weather and sunny locations. It’s important to keep the soil moist but avoid over-watering. Consider adding an automatic watering system to supply a continuous water supply.

• Fertilize containerized plants on a regular basis. Some liquid fertilizer companies recommend about every 10 days. Constant watering during hot summer days leaches out nutrients quicker than normal. Follow directions on the label closely and consider supplying a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorus (the middle number) to maintain a constant floral display.

• Prune the plants. Plants growing in containers will overflow or get tall and often dominate a planter. Continuous pruning will keep flowing plant growth more upright and compact. Pruning also stimulates growth and increases flower production.

• Remove bad plants or diseased or dead leaves. Some plants often do not adapt to containers. These may wilt, refuse to flower, become leggy or just look bad. Take them out as soon as they start to decline and replace them as soon as possible for color maximum affect.

• Don’t wait until frost has killed your summer planting to replace plants for fall bloom. Plant fall blooming annuals and perennials early for maximum floral affect.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.