Summer’s heat can be hard on a garden, and a little extra effort can make a big difference. Container gardens can be especially vulnerable to changes in temperature and inconsistent watering. And over time, those changes may leave you with empty pots and containers with scraggly, unsightly plants that only draw attention to the problems your garden is having in the heat.
Let's look at how you can keep your container garden looking its best, even in the hottest part of the year.
8 Tips to Keep Your Potted Plants Healthy and Alive
Containers usually require more frequent watering than plants in the ground. On the days it doesn’t rain, you may need to water your containers daily to counteract evaporation. For most plants, you’ll want to keep the soil consistently moist. For an easy test, stick your finger into the pot up to the first knuckle. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water.
Mulch for Moisture
Mulching isn’t just for your in-ground gardens. Mulch helps to conserve water and reduce evaporation. It also keeps weeds from taking over your containers. Living mulch, such as other plants that fill in gaps and may even spill over the edge of the container, can really help moisture stay in and keep your container looking lovely.
If you notice your containers are getting too hot, you can move them. Reflective surfaces or bricks that absorb heat can sometimes stress your plants. If you notice signs of sunburn or wilting because of container placement, move them to a better spot with partial shade or more airflow. Small containers are easy to move, but larger ones might be cumbersome. Rolling plant caddies for big planters can be a big help.
Groom and Deadhead
Keep your plants well-groomed to keep them healthy and beautiful. Prune often, cutting back leggy stems by no more than two-thirds at a time to encourage bushy new growth. Leave about half of the plant intact until new growth is established. Deadhead spent blooms and remove dead leaves and branches. Don’t forget to pinch off any flowers on herbs. This will keep them sweet and tender.
The soil in your containers needs to be replenished with nutrients to replace what the plants have already used and has been lost through watering. Dilute water-soluble fertilizer can be applied once every week or two to boost new growth and flowering.
Check on your plants regularly. Since you’ll already need to water frequently, take that time to check for pests and remove them as needed. Picking pests off by hand is perfect for container gardens, and it reduces the need for pesticides.
Maintain Your Pots
Don’t forget to keep your containers looking great, too. Clean them off as needed, clearing them of debris and runoff from other plants. If your plants are in dirty or broken pots, your garden won’t be quite as charming.
Update and Refresh
Sometimes, you just need to start over. Replace seasonal flowers and other annuals as needed with new plants that can start growing now in the warmth of summer. Zinnia, kale, and ornamental peppers are all great options for planting in the hot months. They’ll establish quickly now and continue to add beauty to your container gardens into fall.