In mid-summer, it’s easy to forget about the needs of patio planters and houseplants moved outside for the summer. There are 5 areas to focus on to keep them thriving.
Daily watering – Because the need for adequate drainage is high and the soil we use for these plants isn’t really soil at all – it’s a soilless mix containing Canadian peat moss, perlite and vermiculite – many containers need daily watering. This is especially true in mid-summer when the evaporative demand is great. Some container soils hold more water than others, but sticking your fingers into the pot to check every day is a good routine, and if it’s dry, add enough water to allow about 10% to drain out the holes in the bottom of the pot.
Pinching stems – To prevent “legginess” or stretched out stems, pinching plants such as petunias, calibrachoa and pothos is a good step. Simply use your forefinger and thumb or a pair of garden flower pruners to remove the last few inches of growth and keep the plants compact.
Deadheading flowers – The same flower pruners used to pinch stems should be used to remove faded flowers on geraniums, coleus and salvia. Snip off the old bloom at the point of attachment to the stem.
½ rate fertilizing – After pinching and deadheading, a half rate application of houseplant fertilizer will help to encourage sturdy regrowth and retain healthy color for the rest of the summer. Read the label and reduce the amount recommended on the package. Avoid foliage burn by watering the plants thoroughly, then applying fertilizer a half hour later.
¼ turn to keep even – Patio planters and houseplants can become lopsided as they stretch for the sun, especially ones in shade for part of the day. Reduce this effect by giving the pots a quarter-turn once a week.