August is here and our containers need all the help they can get to beat the heat. Here are container gardening ideas to help your potted plants thrive.
Q: It’s the middle of summer and my container plants look stressed. I haven’t changed my routine, so what am I doing wrong? I need container gardening ideas to help my plants bounce back.
Container gardening changes with the season, and your question contains your answer: you haven’t changed your routine. In the spring, when the days are warm, nights are cool and the sun is not so unforgiving, container plantings thrive. As heat, humidity and the intensity of the sun increase in summer, we need to shift our container-care protocol.
If you think your containers are too small, they are. If you think they are perfect, check again; chances are they are too small. We tend to select pots to fit the plant as it is in the spring, not to accommodate mature plants. Larger plants mean more roots as well as more water and nutritional needs. The smaller the pot, the less soil it can hold, which means it will dry out and heat up more quickly, stressing your plants.
Once you have larger containers, make them mobile. When hot, drying winds kick in and the sun beats down, you can give your plants some respite by moving them to a shaded, protected spot in the garden or on the patio. You can keep your large containers on wheeled trivets (with the wheels footed to keep the pots in park, so to speak) or you can use a hand truck, or handled dolly.
You must be diligent with watering. Pots often need watering every day in the height of summer. Water them deeply in the early morning; a second drink may be needed in late afternoon. More watering means more leaching of nutrients from the soil. You may need to feed more often to compensate for the increased watering routine.
Lastly, too many containers too close together can reduce air circulation, not a good thing when the days are terribly hot. Give your plants room to breathe.
AUTHOR BIO: Jennifer Smith is an avid gardener who holds certificates in landscape design and horticulture. Read more expert container gardening tips in the July/August 2017 issue of Horticulture. Subscribe to get Horticulture delivered right to your door!