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Keeping Pots Perfect

It’s the time of year when summer pots and containers can start to look straggly and it can be tempting to think that their season is over and leave them to their own devices. With a little effort and TLC though, you can keep them flowering and looking good for weeks yet, until it’s time to pull them out and replace them with the more sedate winter container plants.

It’s important to remember that regular potting compost contains enough nutrients to keep plants going for only four to six weeks, and after that, you have to make up the deficit by feeding them yourself, if you want them to keep flowering. Slow- release granular fertilisers can be mixed into the compost at the time of planting which should help. The other alternative is a liquid feed that you dilute in water and apply every week to ten days – ideally over and above any watering you might need to do. If you like to garden organically, as I do, one of the best solutions is liquid seaweed, stocked by pretty much every garden centre. Avoid the temptation to over do it and stick to the instructions on the bottle – too strong a solution won’t make them grow any better and will just put the plants under strain.

A little judicious trimming will go a long way towards keeping your containers looking cheerful. As most container plants are annuals, if they’re allowed to set seed they’ll just give in and die – as far as they’re concerned, their job is done. So remove spent flowerheads before they develop into seed pods. Pansies and violas are ‘divils’ for this – turn your back for a minute and seedheads appear – but nothing beats their gorgeous velvety petals in sumptuous shades, so I’ve been kept busy snipping them all summer. Straggly stems and yellowing or browning foliage can also be trimmed away at this stage, giving your pots a fresh look for the rest of the hopefully warm season.

Anne’s tip of the week: Remember to keep watering your pots and containers, even in wet weather – rain won’t reach the compost through the flowers and foliage and you need to make sure the compost doesn’t dry out to keep things going for a while longer.


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