Our summer pots and baskets should be looking perfect right now. All the plants will be flowering well and none will look too tired. Even if you have done nothing except water them they should be doing well on the nutrients in the compost. But this can’t last and if you want your pots to look just as good for August Bank Holiday there are a few things we have to do.
Watering is so difficult to give guidance on because there are so many variables. Small pots hold little compost so need watering very often. As plants grow they need more water so a pot that needed watering once a week in June will need daily watering in August. And a pot in a shady spot, or surrounded with other pots will need less frequent watering than a single pot on a baked patio.
Aim to keep the compost moist at all times. If the compost dries out and the plants wilt they will be prone to pests and disease, foliage may not recover and flower buds may drop off. If a pot does dry out give it a good soak and repeat after an hour because the compost will shrink and the first watering may all run round the outside of the compost. If a hanging basket dries out it is best to bring it down and stand on a bucket of water or in a large tub of water.
Watering may be needed daily in hot weather. Never rely on the rain to water containers.
Regular feeding is vital to keep plants healthy and flowering. Most composts only contain fertiliser for about a month. If you added controlled-release fertiliser at planting time you should not need to worry about more feeding till late summer. Otherwise you should feed with a liquid fertiliser once a week. Never mix up the feed too strong – follow the instructions – and feed regularly. Also, apply it on moist compost and not when the pot is dry and the plants are wilting.
Tomato fertiliser is one for most plants though you can also buy container fertilisers. If you want to feed your plants very regularly you can feed at half strength twice a week.
As flowers fade, some may set seeds. If the plants set seed they think that they have done their job and they stop blooming. This is no good for us so we remove the dead flowers. Not all our patio plants will set seed but it is worth deadheading if only to keep them looking neat and tidy.
Don’t forget to turn the pots every now and then to ensure even growth.
Jobs for the week
Keep removing the side shoots from tomatoes. Remove lower leaves only if they are turning yellow. Do not strip all the lower leaves and expose the fruits to sun.
Make another sowing of coriander and chervil to harvest in late summer.
Pick the last broad beans and pull up the plant an put on the compost heap.
Deadhead roses and give them a second dressing of fertiliser.