Flower Pots & Baskets with Mike Darcy

August 8, 2018

As I water the last pot on my deck, it is a relief to see that most of the plants are still looking pretty good. There are a few scorched leaves here and there, but I have made an extra effort this year to keep all the pots well watered. There are some areas on the deck that get intense sun almost all day and so I have also made an effort to have a selection of plants in this area that will take the intense heat. There have been several days when the actual pots were too hot to comfortably touch and I cannot imagine how the roots are coping!

This year, our garden does not have any actual ‘hanging’ baskets, but we do have several stand-alone pots on stands that I treat the same way that I would a hanging basket. These stand-alone pots have really been through some harsh conditions this summer with more yet to come. The pots are exposed to not only the sun, but also to all the natural elements especially wind. On a hot day with even minimal wind, not only can the foliage suffer moisture loss, but soil can dry out quickly. I have a neighbor that had two beautiful hanging petunia baskets and there were some days that they could not keep the plants from wilting and so moved them to a temporary location that was partially shaded.

Often, containers, especially if they are hanging, will need to be watered twice a day. Check the soil by scratching the surface with your finger or a trowel and if the soil is dry an inch down, the plant probably needs water. With daily watering , nitrogen may leach out of the soil and it needs to be replaced for continuous vigorous growth. There are many water soluble plant fertilizers available, such as Miracle Gro Plant Food Water Soluble, and an application once a week might be advisable. Many basket type plants bloom on new growth and for flowers, the plant needs to continually grow throughout the season.

If the soil in a hanging basket has become dry, it will often contract leaving a space between the root ball and the side of the pot. When this happens, water will run through the basket without actually getting the soil wet. The best way to correct this is to submerge the basket in a bucket, or perhaps garbage can, of water and let the soil in the pot become thoroughly saturated.

For the past several years, I have had Begonia ‘Bonfire’ in a pot on an iron stand so it was exposed to the weather. The pot was in a location that received quite a bit of afternoon sun. It performed very well but this year I tried a new begonia, Mistral® Red and it has done equally as well. The flowers on ‘Mistral’® Red are, as the name indicates, red whereas ‘Bonfire’ is orange. Both attract hummingbirds equally as well. I also have a stand-alone pot of red standard geraniums mixed with white ivy geraniums and it has never been without flowers.

We still have lots of time for our flower baskets to continue to bloom and, depending on the late summer/early fall season, many of these will continue to flower into October. The key is to keep them fertilized and well watered!

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