jeudi 1 avril 2010

Growing in Containers Part 2

How exciting this time of year is! Everything is flashy pinks and neon yellows with luminous new green growth everywhere. Take a look around you as you walk, see how the plants are literally springing to life. How marvellous is all that?

OK, so now you've chosen your pots (and maybe you've purchased them) and they are sitting there waiting to be filled and look gorgeous.

Maybe you've chosen your plants too? More of that later this week....In the meantime, here's some tips as to HOW to plant in your pots:

1. Don't wait too long! Once you've purchased your plants they should really be safely installed in their new home, nicely moist and watererd within a few days. They will dry out and die if you leave them too long. We've all been there haven't we?

2. Choose the right soil: there are 2 main types of potting compost: loam-based which have sterilized, quality soil or loam as their main ingredient and loamless composts which contain no soil and are usually based on a peat substitute or peat.

Loam based: Free draining, good aeration and structure which encourages root development. Steady supply of nutrients, less prone to waterlogging and dry out more slowly.

Loamless: relatively clean to use, light-weight and generally less expensive. Need careful watering because although the surface might seem dry, below may be moist already. Don't provide such a firm roothold as loam based composts. Not very suitable for long-term container gardening.

Also it's worth mentioning Ericaceous composts which are specially used for plants that thrive on neutral to acid soils such as rhododendrons. They have a very low ph.

Most garden centres have a range of potting composts produced specifically for containers (bacs, pots).

3. Planting a shrub or plant in a container:

Scrub out your container if it's been used already to ensure there is no vestige of disease or maladie in it.

Soak your plants in a container of water so they are thoroughly wet.

Place a layer of clean crocks (pieces of broken terracotta or pottery to help drainage), pieces of polystyrene or some special webbing that allows water to pass through and then on top little drainage balls or gravel in the base of a container with drainage holes.

'Comb' out the plant's roots very gently with your fingers or a small garden fork so there are some free from soil and the plant's 'pot' shape has disappeared a little. This will help the roots establish themselves in their new home. Try not to tug or break the roots.

Add some compost on top of your crocks or balls and put your plant into the pot adjusting the compost level so the soil level of the plant is at the correct height for the pot. Don't plant too low in a pot or the plant will always be on tiptoes looking out for light! Don't plant too high as when you water, the water might tip out over the top.

Add some slow release fertilizer granules on the compost and mix.

Take the plant out of the water, pour water in the bottom layer of compost so there's a little pool and place the plant in the pool. That helps to avoid getting air bubbles in the roots and helps them establish themselves.

Centre your plant and turn it the way it looks best to you. Hold the plant carefully and fill in with compost.

Pat down the compost so the plant is firmly anchored and add a little more compost.

Water water water.....especially in the first year, making sure the plant is not waterlogged obviously.

Here's a picture of an English pub garden where they've gone a bit overboard with the busy lizzy containers. Happy planting!

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