Late Spring is the ideal time to give your container plants a bit of a makeover, for the plants and for us enjoying the plants. A change in feeding regime, attention to moisture, experimenting with placement, and looking out for pests will ensure tougher plants that have what they need to flourish in the summer heat. We can then enjoy our plants more as we celebrate longer days and cooler summer nights with subtle accessories to draw us into our garden!
My summer accessories are fireflies I made from a string of solar lights that automatically switch on as the light dims, inviting us to take a closer look. You can find the tutorial for how to make the Solar Fireflies String Light on my website.
Here are 5 steps to take to prepare your container plants for summer:
Start feeding your container plants once a week from early Summer into Autumn. Plants that are cut down to over winter (such as bananas) now need a feed high in nitrogen to encourage new growth. Other container plants need a feed high in potash, like liquid tomato fertilizer, to encourage flowers and fruit. Sprinkle a bit of potash (potassium) to feed your hanging baskets. Yellow speckles on foliage between the veins can be treated with magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts). In general, liquid seaweed can be used as a tonic in addition to a multi purpose fertilizer made up of equal parts nitrogen, phosphate and potassium for actively growing plants. Also keep an eye on the soil pH, adjusting the acidity or alkalinity to suit your plant needs.
Check the soil regularly and water your potted plants more often as the temperature warms, and mulch to conserve moisture. Mist plants that are native to tropical regions as the humidity of the air around them is as important as the moisture in the soil. Grouping plants can also help increase the humidity of a container garden.
You might need to reposition some of the roots or repot your container plants that have become pot bound into a slightly larger container. Repotting should always be done into containers only one size larger than the one they are currently growing in.
Notice how light and shade shifts throughout the day and the season. Reposition your container plants to where conditions will be ideal for them, realizing this might change over time. Also make sure to keep your container plants away from temperature fluctuations caused by fans, draughts and air conditioners.
Check and treat your container plants for diseases and pests like aphids. Aphids can be washed off with a spray of water, or squish them to attract ladybirds that will help you keep them under control. Summertime is perfect to bring your indoor container plants outside where birds snack on mealybugs and other insects. Powdery mildew can be controlled by spraying plants with a 50% water and 50% milk mixture on a sunny day. Pruning to promote airflow will also make your plants more pest as disease tolerant.
Healthy plants are much less likely to attract unwelcome pests so make sure your plants are happy. Follow an all round summer plan of action, water and feed regularly, mulch, remove weeds, experiment with positioning, keep an eye on pests and prune to ensure there is good airflow around them. And just like that… your container garden is ready to shine the whole summer long.
For more design inspiration, including the step by step picture Tutorial for these Solar Fireflies String Lights design, visit Christine’s online workbook christinedebeer.ca. Christine de Beer is a Floral Artist and design skills developer spending most of her time coming up with interesting techniques and testing innovative products. You can contact Christine through her website or email her at [email protected] or connect with her through Instagram @chris10debeer