Time to Refresh Tired Containers
By Jodi Torpey
Many annual plants start to look a little ragged by August—just like the gardeners who tend them. So this is a perfect time to give annual flower containers a little pick-me-up so they’ll look good until it’s time to put the garden to bed.
Here are some top tips for refreshing your annual container display:
Remove annuals that are past their prime. Some plants just fall apart in summer heat and can’t be revived to their former glory. Use a trowel to carefully lift plants from the container and toss on the compost pile.
Fill in bare spots. If containers look a little lean, add some new plants. Late season annuals will carry the garden through the fall. Look for marigolds, cosmos, zinnia or fill in with cool-season vegetables.
Replace droopy plants with ornamental grasses. Annual and perennial ornamental grasses will add some height and interest to containers until the season ends.
Pinch back spent flowers to help plants continue blooming. If stems have gotten too tall and leggy, use hand pruners to snip them back about 1/3 to ½. Plants will grow back quickly.
Remember to water according to the plant’s needs. Sometimes plants can wilt from having soil that’s too dry, but they can also wilt if they’re overwatered. Use your finger as a gauge and water deeply when the soil has dried to your second knuckle.
Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer. Whether you use Miracle Gro or an organic fertilizer, dilute according to the label instructions and water to give plants a quick boost. If you have hanging baskets or containers, use a diluted solution every watering or keep up the fertilizing every few weeks through the season.
Pinch back culinary herbs. Herbs like basil, sage and mint respond well to pruning and fertilizing, too. Be sure to use the clippings to flavor salads, make iced teas or dry to use this winter.
Keep up with the harvest. If you planted containers of cherry tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers or eggplants, be sure to clip fruits as they ripen. Plants will keep producing as long as you keep picking.
Shop the sales. Late summer is a great time to plan for next year’s garden. Stop at Nick’s for sale items that you can easily store for winter, like containers, seeds and tools. Once spring hits next year, you’ll be glad you did.