Caring for plants in containers all year long

June 30, 2015

In addition to boxwood and small conifers, weeping pussy willow, winter jasmine and slow-growing ornamental bushes thrive all year long in plant containers. Here's how to take care of them properly, even into the wintertime.

Caring for plants in containers all year long

A helpful guide to plants in containers

  • Provide a pop of colour among winter-hardy evergreens with a frost-resistant Christmas rose or any other early-spring bloomer.
  • Climbing plants such as passionflower, clematis or a potted rose can live comfortably on a balcony or a deck and cover up unattractive concrete walls.
  • Bothered by lots of snails? Grow dahlias, verbena, hydrangea or marigold in tubs so that snails can't get to them.
  • If your garden soil isn't hospitable for rhododendrons, azaleas or other acid-loving plants, put them into the appropriate soil in tubs and place them in the flower beds.
  • Choose boxwood, impatiens, fuchsia, heather, hydrangeas, lobelia, laurel or palm ferns for shady or partially shady areas.

Tip: You can find all kinds of things at flea markets that can be used as flowerpots: colourful ceramics from other countries, tubs or pans, metal buckets or an old basin. Flowers can even feel at home in discarded cooking pots.

Care and winter protection

  • Stick your finger one centimetre (1/2 inch) into the soil to see whether a plant needs water. If the soil feels dry, water the plant.
  • Loosen up crusty topsoil regularly to allow water to penetrate better.
  • Use a little more plant fertilizer during the growing season on potted plants, as the soil contains fewer nutrients.
  • Pour water used for cooking vegetables and eggs and any tea remnants on your potted plants; they contain plenty of minerals that are good for your blooming beauties.
  • Depending on the zone in which you live, plants that are not winter-hardy should be in their winter quarters before the first night of frost.
  • Make sure that your plants' winter quarters are bright and cool; the optimal temperature is between 5°C and 8°C (41°F and 46°F).
  • Wrap the containers of even winter-hardy potted plants in burlap, and place fir branches around them, because they still need protection from frost. Tie up everything above the top edge of the pot.
  • If you do water potted plants in the winter, make sure that it is on frost-free days because any cold winter winds will quickly dry out their roots.
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