Gardening TipsWhat you Need to Know When You Don't Have a Green Thumb
Outdoor Flowering Containers
Outdoor containers filled with flowers make beautiful gifts, and to ensure that they remain attractive throughout the season, follow these steps.
~Location is important. Do not place a container filled with plants that enjoy full sun in a shady area, and vice versa. Sun loving plants need a minimum of 6-8 hours of daily direct sun. Partial sun/shade 4-6 hours of daily direct sun. Full shade are areas that receive early morning and late afternoon sun.
~Moisture should be checked daily. The easiest way to check the moisture level is to put your finger in the soil. The soil should be kept evenly moist. Wilting plants are often a sign that the soil is dry. The best time of day to water plants is early morning, and ideally you want to water the soil and not the foliage of the plant, as this will discourage mold and mildew. Water the container thoroughly, rather than small amounts more often. You will notice that later in the season as the plants get larger you will need to water more often as the plants root systems are larger. Weather, location, and container size and type will also dictate as to how often you need to water. Hot sunny locations will need more water as well as porous containers such as clay. Smaller containers will dry out faster than large containers.
~Nutrients keep plants healthy and flourishing. Flowering plants do best with a flowering plant fertilizer. When you look at a fertilizer container it will have 3 numbers on it. The middle number (2nd) is the percentage of phosphorus which promotes healthy root growth and flower production. Choose a fertilizer that has a higher middle number and a lower 1st and 3rd number such as 12-36-12. Fertilizer comes in different forms. Water soluble types will feed plants instantly. This should be given to plants weekly. Also available is a slow release fertilizer that will slowly feed plants for many weeks, and this can be sprinkled on the soils surface at the beginning of the season. If you choose to use the slow release fertilizer, periodically fertilize with a water fertilizer to give plants an extra boost. Always apply fertilizer to moist soil. If soil is dry, moisten it first before applying fertilizer.
~Pests and disease can quickly harm plants, so you want to catch any problem early. Aphids are a common problem and are often found on and under foliage, stems and new growth. Aphids can be green, red or black and they leave a sticky substance on the leaf. If you catch them early, you can spray them off the plant with a blast of water. If the problem becomes more severe you may have to spray the plant with a pesticide. To help prevent aphids and other pests, spray plants weekly with an organic insecticidal soap as this will destroy pests at an early stage. Mold and mildew can also become a problem. Always remove broken, or damaged leaves and stems before they start to rot and also any finished flowers.
~Removing finished flowers not only prevents disease but also promotes more flowers. Spent flowers that are left on the plant will form seed pods which takes valuable nutrients away from the plants flower production. There are some flowers that are self-cleaning and these do not need to be removed as they don’t set seed. These are ideal for those low-maintenance containers.
~Sometimes plants can become spindly as the season progresses. Giving them a trim will keep them looking tidy as well as promote new growth, resulting in bushier, fuller plants.