container gardens
Soil Mixtures and Planting

   When your permanent trees, shrubs or perennials grow too large for their containers, shift them to bigger ones. Water the night before so the soil will be moist for transplanting. Dry soil tends to break apart, except on root-bound specimens. To remove most plants, invert the pot over your left hand and tap the pot rim sharply on a step or table or slip a knife around the inside edges. Turn larger plants on the side, knock the pot to loosen the plant and remove with a firm, gentle pull.

Handling Large Plants

   Planting large specimens purchased in temporary containers is a more involved process. If they are in baskets or boxes, these can be broken or torn apart, but be careful not to disturb the roots. Tins must be opened with tin cutters. To remove plants, put the cut containers on their sides and pry steadily at the ball of soil gently in order not to break it.

   All container plants benefit from a mulch spread evenly over the surface of the soil. This will keep the soil cool and moist and weeds under control. Use peatmoss, sand, gravel, stones, pebbles, buckwheat hulls, or Vermiculite. One of these will also give an attractive appearance but since the mulch conceals the soil, it is more difficult to determine when to water. Test by poking a finger through the material to touch the soil.

   Though drainage holes are recommended, they are not essential. I have seen flourishing geraniums and wax and tuberous begonias in jardinieres, jugs, and iron kettles with only a thick layer of pebbles, broken flower pots, cinders, or coarse sand spread at the bottom to catch water. Of course, what is important here is a sensible program of watering rather than the presence or lack of drainage outlets.

Pointers for Planters

   In the case of planters, again make certain drainage facilities are good. Usually there are holes at the base or sides. For best results, every four square feet should have a two-inch drainage outlet.

   Planters attached to buildings are often open at the base. As with other containers, before filling with soil, spread a thick layer of broken flower pots, crushed bricks or coarse gravel over the bottom. With large-sized planters, this should be six to eight inches thick with a layer of straw or sphagnum moss above to prevent soil washing. Planters require day-by-day care to keep plants at their best. This means pruning, staking, spraying, feeding, and more particularly watering. Planters adjoining walls dry out quickly, especially where heat is reflected from brick, stucco, or concrete. Often planters are located under overhanging roofs or broad eaves. Wherever they are, do not depend on rain, but apply the hose as often as needed, which is usually daily and sometimes more often. Remember to have planters in factories, offices, and public buildings watered on week-ends and through vacation periods.