In this article, we will be discussing how to look after your containers, so that you can get many years of service. We will also be discussing how to get the best from the plants in the containers, so you do not have disappointing containers and disappointing plants within them.
This is why in this article we will be looking into ways of how to brighten up containers so you can have unique designs and finally we will be discussing how to repair slightly broken containers so that you can have many more year of service from them.
When we look at containers, we often see ugly or boring containers that are uninspiring. The containers can be jazzed up with a coat of paint or wood stain to give an instant transformation.
It must be remembered a container that has experienced all conditions that the weather has to throw at them, so any design will have to last. It will have a softer look and will fit better with its surroundings if wooden raised beds, window boxes and other wooden containers are stained. They can be stained to any colour that you prefer, so giving an instant splash in the garden.
It is best to use subdued colours because they do not distract from the beauty and style of the plant. If you are going to do this, it is best to use a wood preservative or stain that is suitable for outdoor and is look lasting.
You can try matching your terracotta containers with your garden furniture with colours that blend in or you can contrast them so that your eyes are more drawn to the containers instead of the furniture. To be able to do you should follow the principles highlighted in my article on colour wheels.
To give interest to terracotta pots m you can paint the rim a different colour or you can draw a pattern on the container, whilst leaving the rest as the original colour. When you do this make sure you use a suitable masonry paint.
Another technique that can be used is to weather effect the containers. This is quite simple to do. Firstly, you need to apply yoghurt to the container surface using a paintbrush and leave to dry. This will encourage mosses and algae to grow. This will make stone, concrete and terracotta containers to appear older. This is the pleasant way of doing it but as an alternative, you can use liquid manure slurry.
If you want the instant green look you can rub fresh parsley on the outside of the pot, but this will take a long time to apply and will require a lot of parsley, depending on the size of the container.
To make sure that pots look their best, you will need to maintain your containers. You will have to inspect them to make sure there are no cracks in the pots, that they are clean on the outside (If you do not like the green algae look), You will also need to make sure that the plants in the containers are well maintained.
MAINTAINING YOUR PLANTS
I have talked about this in a previous article but I will dell into this into more depth here. Maintaining plants in containers are far more intensive than plants grown in the open ground. This is because container plants do not have direct access to the nutrients in the garden soil. They rely on you for all their requirements for food, water (when it is not raining) and to place it in the right location.
You need to start feeding after six to eight weeks after planting. You will need to continue as long as the plants are actively growing. For a six month feed use a slow-release fertiliser for a long term plant food, whilst using a liquid fertiliser with high potash such as Phostrogen will give a quick boost.
PRUNING AND REPOTTING
To keep large plants in the same container longer, you need to prune regularly. Not all plant like this as you will need to check the growing requirements before severely pruning them. Some plants do not mind severe pruning, whilst others do not like it. Some plants will need to be repotted into a slightly larger container especially if the plant becomes root-bound. When doing this it is better to go up to the next available pots size up.
DEAL WITH PESTS AND DISEASES
Deal with any pests and diseases promptly, as the close proximity of plants in a container can result in minor infestations becoming a serious fret.
RENEW THE COMPOST
You will need to renew the compost in the container to maintain fertility. What you have to do is top dress permanent plants in containers in spring. You will have to carefully scrape away the compost surface making sure that no surface roots are damaged. This top layer should be replaced with new compost or well-rotted manure.
This should be done once a year in spring. You can apply an annual slow-release fertilise at the same time and this will set you up for the growing season.
In summer, you need to deadhead flowers by either pinching out or use secateurs to remove them, especially when the seed pods are starting to form. This will stimulate the plants to produce more blooms of a better size and over a longer period.
Some plants can be bullies and are inclined to take over an entire container. You will need to trim these vigorous plants regularly to keep them in check.
You can use sharp scissors to prune straggly stems and to encourage the plant to bush out. This is especially important for trailing plants to encourage them to form new shoots.
CHECK THE PLANTS ARE HEALTHY
Plants need to be kept healthy by removing diseased leaves or if it is too badly diseased, even the whole plant. This must be done regularly to prevent the disease from spreading further. You may need to cut back into healthy grown to promote better health in the plants. It may seem drastic but it needs to be done to keep the disease from spreading. It is better to be brutal and try to save the plant and not try. You never know, but it may work or it may fail.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PROBLEMATIC CONTAINERS
You now know how to brighten up your containers and how to look after the plants that grow within them, but sometimes the container you have develops a problem. The container develops a crack, or it gets chipped or even slightly broken. These cracks should be mended as soon as possible when they are observed. This is because a neglected crack can fill with water, which then freezes in frosty weather in winter, causing the crack to propagate more and even break the container.
Broken wooden panels in planters can be removed and replaced with pieces of wood of similar size. You will then need to cut the piece to the right length and then paint it with a wood preserve. It should not be a difficult task. If you are looking towards pots, it is best to buy those that crack in the first place. Believe me, it will save a lot of heartache.
Using frost-resistant pots is recommended as they are less likely to break into pieces in cold weather.
Do not place large plants in a pot that is urn-shaped as this will make it impossible to remove the plant without breaking the pot.
REPOT SHRUBS REGULARLY
Repot your shrub plant regularly, especially if it outgrows its present smaller container. This is because the plant as it grows will place stress on the container and this extra stress can break the containers. It is important to repot quick-growing specimens regularly.
DO NOT THROW BROKEN CONTAINERS AWAY
If the plant pot is too damaged to be used in a container displays then do not throw them away, as they can be used for temporary, seasonal planting of annuals. These plants exert little or any stress to the container and should not damage them further.
HOW TO FILL SHALLOW CRACKS IN POTS
FILLING EXTERNAL CRACKS
If a shallow crack develops in the exterior of the pot because it gets accidentally hit or because of a sharp frost. First mix a paste of building sand and PVA adhesive so that it is neither too thick nor too runny. Just have the right consistency so that the paste stays place on the container without falling out. This can be used to repair cracks in concrete or stone containers.
The paste can be applied by the use of a spatula. Remember the repair that is made will not be strong and can undo easily if the container is under stress.
HOW TO REPAIR SHALLOW INTERNAL CRACKS
If you have a shallow internal crack in a container then it can be easily repaired, as long as it has occurred in stone, concrete or terracotta pots. You can apply bitumen using a paintbrush. The repairs will be rather obvious but the good news is that the repair cannot be seen from the outside of the pot.
This can only be done in shallow cracks, as deep cracks will not last long if the container is damaged once more.
You may give your containers some extra time, so do not be too hasty to throw them away.
In this article, we have discussed how to get many years of service from your containers by carefully looking after them and by getting the right selection of containers.
Most containers can be seen as dull and methods to bright them up from painting or artificial ageing have been discussed. You can have your container stick out or you can get to blend in with your garden schemes.
How to get the best from the plants in the container by maintaining the plants from feeding, pruning, deadheading and preventing diseases from taking over.
Finally, a method of sealing shallow cracked pots, both internally and externally can be fixed, to give more life to that old plant pot.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Container Gardening.