By this time we’ve mostly got all our pots, window boxes and hanging baskets all planted up with summer flowering plants. But don’t despair, if you’ve not yet done so there’s still plenty of time to nip down to your local garden centre and pick up some plants to provide colours for the rest of the summer and well into the winter…
Watering all these potted displays can be where many of us fall down, with all good intentions we’re super diligent at the start but then we miss the odd day here or there and the display never recovers, or we over water and wash all the goodness out of the soil!
Firstly, you need to ensure you start with a good quality container compost in pots, tubs or whatever, and to take the hassle out of feeding mix in some ‘Controlled Release Plant Food’ into the compost. This slow release fertiliser will feed your plants for the whole summer… so no need for Miracle-Gro, Tomato food or the like after that!
If you’re adding flowering plants around a plant which lives permanently in the pot, such as a Box Tree, it’s important you replace at least 30% of the compost every year, so scrape out as much as you can from the top and replace with your new compost & fertiliser mix.
After you’ve planted the display the drudgery of watering begins! By choosing good compost at the start, it will hold more moisture so instantly we’ve started off on the right foot! Moving forward there are a number of tips and helpful aids out there which can make the maintenance so much easier.
After compost, you should look into adding an empty plastic bottle with holes drilled in the sides as a simple method of providing a more staggered supply of water to pots, also you can easily pick up ‘drip watering tops for bottles’, these are mega handy and really work!
If you’re a regular traveller then a drip watering system, such as the Hozelock system can be a really useful help to ensure you come back to great pots and baskets, or indeed you can have it set up all summer and let the watering be looked after without any involvement from yourself. A basic system starts off at around £100, and this will save you around 200 hours of watering a year…. so although there’s an initial cost, the time saved is huge!
If you’re watering by hand, either by watering cans or hoses, it’s important you water in the morning, this ensures that plants get a lovely morning drink and excess water can evaporate off by the time the cool evenings come along. Also when watering, ensure to water the soil and not the plants… water splashed around flowers and leaves only serves to ruin them and encourages disease.
Whatever watering system you choose to utilise it’s important that pots are thoroughly wetted through when watered, surface watering only serves to stress plants, so water pots and baskets through so that after a watering the compost contains as much water as possible, this in turn then slowly dries out from the top down and then you irrigate again when it’s 50% dried out.
Gareth Austin MSc. MCI Hort
Gareth Austin Horticultural & Media Services
Providing professional horticultural solutions for a challenging world
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