container gardens
Day-by-Day Care for Container Plants
Vacation Time

   If you go away for long periods during the summer, give the container garden serious thought before making it a project. On the other hand, you can enjoy both holidays and plants if you are absent for only short periods. The best safeguard is to entrust your plants to a responsible friend. Some neighborhoods employ handy men for this, as does Beacon Hill in Boston for its extensive window-box project. Landscape gardeners will come to water, as will nurserymen, who have more time for this during the quieter months of summer.

   Several devices can be practiced. One is to arrange smaller containers in boxes of peatmoss, sawdust, or soil, which has been well soaked. Then there is the pot-in-pot method, whereby small pots are set in larger ones, with moist peatmoss inserted between. Some enthusiasts even take their plants with them when they are vacationing.

Move Plants About

   Every now and then you will want to shift plants around to accommodate their needs. On hot, windy days, move into the shade exposed pots that are subjected to reflected heat from stone walls, concrete walks, or paved areas. Remember, too, that hanging baskets dry out the quickest. In the event of a violent wind or rain storm, move containers to safety.

Fertilizer

   A good feeding program will result in healthier plants with more bloom. In the confined soil areas of containers, plants utilize nutrients sooner than they do in the garden; so, in general, feed plants every two weeks with a balanced chemical fertilizer, following directions on the package. For more immediate results, apply liquid fertilizer. Some plants are voracious and will need more frequent feeding. Foliar fertilizer can be applied as a supplement.

Saucers

   Containers on pavements, patios, walks and driveways will not need saucers and are better without them, for water will run out freely. However, on other surfaces, as painted porch floors or tables, saucers are needed to prevent staining. You can use plastic saucers, light, non-breakable and inexpensive, in black, gray, green, rose, or red. Avoid clay saucers, since their penetrating moisture leaves circular, whitish marks. When saucers are used, be careful that pots do not stand in leftover water for any length of time.

   From time to time, clean saucers with a stiff brush and soapy water. Containers will also require washing out. Painted tubs that stand on or near plant beds become spattered with mud during heavy rains or during sprinkling. If the mud is allowed to dry, it will rub off easily with a piece of cloth or your fingers. When you plan a party, it is a good idea to give containers a quick going-over with a damp cloth or sponge to make them sparkle.



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