Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!
Other than cleaning out some of the leaves and debris that have collected in my yard over the winter months, the weather is still a little too unpredictable, where I live in Utah, to do much planting in my flowerbeds, but it is getting warm enough to plant a few pretty flower pots for my porch and patio…such a fun way to get an early touch of spring color!
“When beautiful spring comes, and nature resumes her loveliness…the human soul is apt to be revived also!” Harriet Jacobs
Simple Steps To Planting Pretty Flower Pots!
As we embark on our venture of planting pretty flower pots–I think most of us have one common thought in mind…!!
While I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes when planting my flower pots, my Grandma Mecham, (my mom’s mom) who first nurtured my love of gardening, gave me a few pointers years ago when I used to help plant her pretty flower pots!
♣ Create good drainage. We know that pots need good drainage so the roots can receive adequate oxygen for good growth. An easy way to do this is to buy pots that already have a hole in the bottom so that when you water your plants, the water can drain freely and doesn’t stay stagnant around the roots of your plants. All your plant TLC care will be wasted if your flowers get root rot.
Larger pots require more than one hole. You can drill your own holes with a large drill bit if your favorite pot doesn’t have any. My husband taught me that a few layers of masking tape placed on the spot where you want to drill your hole will keep more fragile ceramic pots from cracking.
You’ll want to have a drainage saucer underneath your pots if they are placed on a surface you don’t want damaged by water that drains from your pots when you water them. You can also put a smaller plain pot with plastic or ceramic water catch dish inside a bigger more decorative pot…this is a useful trick for hanging pots. There’s such a fun variety of decorative flower pots available now at your local garden centers and home improvement stores that come with matching trays.
If you have a place where you don’t want to run the risk of any water damage, you can add rocks to the bottom of a flower pot to create an internal drainage system of sorts–you will just have to be careful not to over water the plants in these pots.
My grandma used to break her old, chipped clay pots into small pieces and put them into the bottoms of her new flower pots.
♣ Add special potting soil. Since ordinary garden soil is too heavy and can introduce disease, be sure to use a bagged planting mix or a homemade equivalent. My sweet grandma used to make her own potting soil in a large wheel barrel by adding a special concoction of peat moss, sand, garden compost and fertilizer, then she’d enlist my help to get it all mixed up. If you want to mix your own potting soil, google lists a gazillion websites that will help you do just that.
While there may be something satisfying about mixing your own soil bend, if you’re at all like me and want to save yourself the time and hassle of figuring out the best dirt composition to help your plants thrive, there are a number of really good ready-made flower pot soils available at your local garden nurseries.
I personally like Miracle Grow Potting Mix because it contains moisture control beads that hold excess moisture that is then released as soil dries out, so you’ll have to water less. It also has a special mixture of fertilizer and nutrients needed for establishing beautiful flowers and plants in your container pots, while helping them resist disease from insects and fungus. (Miracle Grow also has a soil mix that’s recommended for succulent plants and a fortified mix that’s great as an add-in for the flowerbeds in your yard.)
♣ Use proper planting techniques. You’ll want to buy enough plants to fill your container with a couple of inches between them, or you could do one large plant–the root ball should be no larger than about half the size of the pot you’re planning to use to put it in. I like to buy bigger, more mature plants because they are well established and will bloom quicker. Depending on where your flower pot will be located, (shade or sun) you’ll want to buy plants that will do well in those areas. Take the time of year into consideration too. Flowers like pansies and primrose can withstand cool spring evenings, while plants like geraniums, million bells, and ganzanias, to name a few, thrive in the summer heat. In addition to planting flowers in your pots, putting in some pretty greenery will give them some unique texture. Plant experts at neighborhood shops are a great source of information as you plan and shop for your flowers.
A quick planting review: First, decide how you want to arrange your flowers, also pinch off any dead blooms or leaves. Second, dig holes a few inches deeper and wider than attached root ball of the plant. Third, pour a little water that has been mixed with a root starter into each hole before placing a plant in it–this will give a little boost to the flower’s roots so they get a good head start and will bloom quicker. (Since our flower pot season in Utah is relatively short, we’ll take every day of flower blooms we can get!) Fourth, cover the root ball of each flower with a sufficient amount of potting soil, (a couple of inches) and put some a little ways up the stem to where the lowest leaves are developed so that the plant is anchored well and the root system isn’t bare to the elements. As you smooth the dirt around your flowers, keep the level of the soil a few inches below the rim of the pot so the potting soil doesn’t spill over the rim of the pot when you water. Fifth, once everything is planted, water flowers enough to leave soil moist, (until water barely starts to drip into your flower pot saucer) but not overly wet; watering like this every 2-3 days is key to growing and maintaining pretty flower pots!
Since flower pots do require more frequent watering, some of the nutrients are more likely to be washed away from the plant’s root system, so if you want happy, healthy flowers, use a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks according to package instructions. I personally like Bayer Advance 2 in 1 Insect Control Plus Fertilizer, it comes in spikes or liquid form for easy use.
♣ General maintenance and upkeep. Many plants continue to produce new flowers if you remove spent blooms. Pinch off dead flowers (deadhead) just above a leaf or bud. When plants begin to look wilted and past their prime, pull them out carefully and replace them with new ones; doing this also makes it so you can easily transition from one season to another and keep your flower pots looking fresh and lush. As you water, you may need to add a new layer of potting soil or mulch to your container pots to keep the root systems covered well. As already mentioned, fertilize pots regularly with a bloom boost. Guard against common flower pests such as aphids, spider mite and mealy bugs by spraying every few weeks with an organic pest control. I use Bonide Eight Insect and Disease Control Spray because it treats any fungus disease plants may get as well.
Pretty spring flower pots in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment, get creative, and express your unique personality when you plant your pretty flower pots!
“For children, most importantly, being in a flower garden is something magical!” Fritjof Capra
“When you plant flowers…you decorate your soul!” Luther Burbank
I’m curious to know what flowers you have planted in container pots that are low maintenance and bloom beautifully?
–Happy planting! Love, Mary