Maintaining Container Gardens
by National Gardening Association Editors

These simple maintenance tasks keep your patio planters and window boxes looking their best throughout the growing season and help cold-climate gardeners prepare for winter.


Tools and Materials

* Planted containers
* Water source, hose or watering can
* Slow-release and water-soluble fertilizers
* Scissors or hand pruners
* Seasonal flowering and foliage plants
* Chicken wire and loose mulch, optional

Water frequently. Closely spaced plants packed into a small volume of soil need watering as often as once or twice a day, especially in hot, sunny, dry weather. When you water, be sure to saturate all the soil in the pot-not just around the edges. Pots that dry out too quickly may have more plants in them than the soil can support. Remove some plants, prune them back, or move the pot to a less sunny location.

Fertilize regularly. Rapidly growing plants need plenty of nutrients. Frequent watering and the limited amount of soil in container gardens makes the need for fertilizer critical. Mix slow-release fertilizer pellets into the potting soil, according to package instructions. Add additional nutrients throughout the growing season by dissolving a water-soluble fertilizer in the watering can once every week or two. Use a one-half to one-quarter strength dilution, or follow package instructions.

Groom and remove dead flowers. Keep plants looking lush and full by pruning leggy stems back to buds or branches and removing off-colored and damaged foliage. Many plants continue to produce new flowers if you remove the spent blooms before they set seeds. Pinch the flower stems back to just above a leaf or bud.

Change plants seasonally. When the plants begin to look tired and past their prime, pull them out and replace them with fresh plants. You can keep your container current with seasonal themes by growing a succession of plants, such as bulbs and primroses in the spring, annuals and vegetables in the summer, and colorful kale and pansies in autumn.

Prepare for winter. In cold-winter climates, containers and their contents need protection from freezing temperatures. Even hardy perennials, trees, and shrubs cannot tolerate completely frozen roots. Terra cotta and ceramic pots may crack if left outside to freeze. Empty their contents into the compost pile and store the dry pots in a protected garage or cellar. Wrap chicken wire around the pots of small trees and shrubs and stuff with loose mulch, such as straw. Store in an unheated but not freezing garage or basement for the winter.

Tips
Reduce watering chores by choosing light-colored, non-porous containers such as plastic or glazed pottery. Protect pots from full sun and wind.
Rotate containers to encourage plants on all sides to grow evenly. Plants on the shady side tend to get leggy as they stretch for the sun.

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Save the dates!

All Regular meetings are held at the McFall Room in the Manteca Public Library located at 320 W. Center Street. Social gathering at 12:30 PM. General meeting starts around 1:00 PM.


PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR


September 18: First Regular Meeting of New Club Year - Speaker William P.R. Welch - The Bulb Baron

October 8: Field Trip - Orchid Society "Wine & Orchids", Tickets $10, - Carpool from Target 12:15 PM

October 16: Regular Meeting - Speaker Barry Hoffer - Maples for all Seasons

November 20: Regular Meeting - Speaker Janice Zacharias - History of East Union Memorial Cemetery

December 18: Annual Holiday Luncheon - 12:00 at Chez Shari on Manteca Golf Course, Price TBD

January 15: Regular Meeting - Speaker Jim Brugge - Sculpted Nature

February 19: Regular Meeting - Speaker Tom Powell - Update on City Beautification Projects

March 19: Regular Meeting - Speaker Randy Powell - Palm Tree Care

March 26: Field Trip - The Hughson Arboretum and Gardens - Carpool time TBD

April 16: Regular Meeting - Garden Tour Preparation

May 21: Regular Meeting - Speaker Rose Risso - Photography Presentation of her Bird Book Collection

June 18: Installation Luncheon - 12:00 Noon at - Location TBD

If you have any questions please call Paula Elias at (209) 482-3660