container gardens
Day-by-Day Care for Container Plants

   The container garden is really easy to care for. However, since plants are more prominently displayed than in the garden, they require regular attention to keep them looking their best. Enough water is most important.

   To keep plants neat, remove faded flowers and yellow leaves as soon as they appear. If you go over your plants a little each day, it is easy to keep them well groomed. Some kinds, like fuchsias, drop old blossoms, which must be picked up by hand or with a small broom and dust pan. Also, keep sweeping up fallen leaves.

   When geranium blossoms fade, remove them with a firm snap of the fingers or with pruning shears or scissors. Cut off faded petunias to prevent seed formation. Do the same for marigolds, verbenas, snapdragons, zinnias, stocks, and other annuals as well as hardy flowering trees and shrubs, tropical plants, perennials, and bulbs.

Pinch and Prune

   Some plants need pinching to shape them and prevent legginess. Cut tips from English, German, and Kenilworth ivies, variegated vinca, and other trailing plants to make them short and bushy. This is more important with plants in containers on terraces and other paved surfaces. Also snip shoots of petunias, fuchsias, snapdragons, marigolds, browallia, and other annuals. Some perennials, like phlox and fall asters, remain shorter and produce smaller but more numerous flower heads if tips are pinched once or twice in the late spring or summer. This practice delays blooming, thus extending the flowering season.

   Woody plants need regular pruning and clipping. With lemon, orange, oleander, Chinese hibiscus and other tender trees and shrubs, cut out dead branches and prune to open up and shape. Do the same with hardy, woody plants. For formal effects, shear yews, hollies, arborvitae, boxwood, pittosporum, and sweet bay after new growth has hardened. Jagged tips may be cut off at any time of the year.

Water With Care

   The importance of proper watering cannot be stressed enough, since container plants that are exposed to wind and sun dry out quicker than those in the ground. There are no exact rules about watering. You have to become acquainted with the needs of various plants. The best way is to examine them daily and water when the surface of the soil begins to look dry. Feeling the soil will also help you determine moisture needs.

   How much and when to water will depend on the kind of plant and soil, the type and size of container, and the amount of exposure to sun and wind. Climate and the weather also play their part. During hot spells, most plants need daily watering, except those in small clay pots, which may require it twice.