Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

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!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

“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…!!

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

(via Etsy)

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.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

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.

Creating good drainge for flower pots.

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.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower Pots!

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.

Garden Therapy! Pretty Flower 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.

Making flower pot soil.

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.

Miracle Grow potting soil.

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.

pansies-in-flower-pots-11

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!

Garden Therapy! 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.

Maintaining spring flower pots.

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!

Little Things Mean A Lot! www.mytributejournal.com

“For children, most importantly, being in a flower garden is something magical!”  Fritjof Capra

Happiness is where I planted it!Flowering houseplants www.mytributejournal.com

“When you plant flowers…you decorate your soul!”  Luther Burbank

You can check out other simple spring gardening tips here.  I’ve also got some fun ideas for planting a fairy garden here.

I’m curious to know what flowers you have planted in container pots that are low maintenance and bloom beautifully?

–Happy planting!  Love, Mary

Garden Therapy! Colorful Shade Plants!

Garden Therapy!  Colorful Shade Plants!

So far, spring in Utah where I live hasn’t consisted of too many sunny days…but thank goodness the sun does eventually shine!  Meanwhile, I’ve been wandering our local garden centers in anticipation of getting out in my flowerbeds again.  Usually, my focus is on good hardy plants that will survive and thrive in the heat of the summer sun, but since the trees are maturing and getting bigger in my yard, I’ve been doing a little research on fun, colorful plants that do good in shady areas.

Colorful Shade Plants!

Well-Known Shade Plants!

  • Impatiens

Probably one of the most recognizable and popular colorful shade plants is Impatiens; they are fairly hardy plants and require little care other than moderate watering and some insect and slug control, since snails love their delicate petals and aphids breed well in shady areas.

Colorful Shade plants--impatiens.

Impatiens are pretty annual flowers that come in a variety of colors and bloom all summer long.  They usually grow about 8-10 inches tall.  I like to plant a combination of all the bright colors in some of my shady flower beds.

Slug and pest control for flowers.

I’ve found sprinkling Corry’s slug bait in the mulch around my plants works best to protect them against snails, and that Bayer Flower Insect Spry does a great job of protecting flowers from a variety of insects–it’s also animal safe.

I think we’re all pretty familiar with many of the more well-known shade plants, typically planted in the north facing areas of our yards.  Growing up, we had a large side yard that faced north where several pine trees grew; it was a favorite place to play with neighborhood friends during the summer, since it didn’t get the heat of the midday sun.  My mom grew rhubarb plants along the fence and planted what seemed like hundreds of colorful Impatiens under the pine trees.   

Impatient: Colorful shade flowers.

Impatiens will do well in rocky and clay soil if you just add some sand and mulch to your dirt for the best flowering results.  Since decorative, cement curbing wasn’t available back then, my parents often lined rocks around their flowers beds–I love the natural look and have used some in parts of my yard.

  • Coleus    

One of my very favorite shade plants is coleus; the variety and colors of these lush, leafy plants seems to be endless.  Coleus are a great filler to any flowerbed, but also gorgeous all on their own!

Coleus plants.

Coleus provide stunning color to any shade area.  Most varieties grow 16-18 inches tall, but you can pinch them back so the plants grow out more full.  

Photo (105)

Colorful shade plants for container pots.

Impatiens and coleus are perfect for porch planters where there’s no direct sun! 

  • Pansies and Violas

These pretty, lacy-edged flowers were a favorite of both my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  They’re usually the first flowers you’ll see blooming in all their pretty color combinations come springtime.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

While pansies and violas tend to thrive in the cooler, early spring sun, I’ve found that they don’t like the heat of the hotter summer sun unless planted in shady areas that only allows for some indirect sunlight to shine on them.

Colorful shade flowers-pansies and violas.

If you’ll pinch off the old, wilted blooms on your pansy and viola flowers, it will help generate new ones much quicker.  They require regular watering too.

Other Colorful Shade Plants!

  • Lamium 

Lamium, better known to me as purple dragon, is a pretty perennial flowering ground cover that blooms most of the summer.  I love the variegation of the silvery green color of the leaves along with the unique flower shape.  (There’s a white flower variety too.) 

Colorful shade flowers-lamium.

I like to mix Lamium in with other kinds of ground cover under the big maple trees in my back yard for some fun added color and texture.  

  •  Astilbe

When I was first in search of some long lasting, blooming shade perennial flowers, a cute gal at our nearby garden center introduced me to Astilbe flowers–my granddaughters knowingly refer to them as feather duster plants–since that is exactly what they look like!  (Your yard will thank you in lush plants if you become good friends with your local plant ladies…and guys–seriously, such fun people and they all love what they do!)    

astilbe-bloom

Astilbe flowers can tolerate some indirect sunlight, but do best when planted in mostly shady areas.  They also like soil that stays pretty moist, so you will want to keep the slug bait and sprinkle some around them every other week.  Even when their blooms fade, they have a neat rustic look to them.   

  • Hydrangeas

I was always fascinated with the ever-changing color hues of the hydrangea bushes my grandmother grew in her beautiful gardens, and to this day the smell of them reminds me of the blooms she’d clip and put in fun vases throughout her house.  For some reason though, I didn’t think I had the “green thumb” so to speak, to keep any growing in my own yard…but come to find out, they are really very easy to grow as long as you plant them in more shady flowerbeds that don’t get hot afternoon sun and fertilize them regularly.

Colorful Shande flowers-hydrandeas

I usually plant the “Endless Summer” variety of Hydrangea bushes because, as the name indicates, they bloom all summer long.  I love how the blossoms fade from bright pink to a pale bluish hue as they mature.  Hydrangeas like mulch rich, moist soil.  Plant Hydrangeas where there is room to grow since they will get about 3-5 feet high.  I treat them with Bayer pest spray once a month. 

Easy to grow Endless Summer hydrangeas.

I love to plant Hydrangea bushes in large ceramic pots in my flower beds too; just water every other day and make sure there’s good drainage.

My grandma was such a neat influence in my life.  As a child, I loved working together in her flowerbeds; those memories are some of the main reasons I look forward to getting out in my own yard this time of year–she often told me that…

Quote about spring.

Whatever you like to do to renew your spirit this special springtime of year…I  hope you find it in abundance!

What are some colorful shade plants you love to plant in your yard?  Do you have any handy yard care tips that you’d share with us here?

–Mary

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

pots

Garden Therapy!  Planting Herbs…And A Mint Limeade Recipe!

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

“For me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as telling the people you’ve invited over for lunch that the food they are eating first started in your garden!”   Curtis Stone – Chef 

For a gal who enjoys gardening and has helped her husband grow a variety of garden vegetables throughout the years, I have to confess that until a few years ago, I hadn’t really tried my hand at growing herbs–the Schilling company had usually met my needs for the herbs and spices I used for cooking.

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

 Although I hadn’t planted herbs myself until just recently, I remember my grandma’s kitchen window sills being lined with small pots containing beautiful, fragrant herbs!

In my research on growing herbs, I found the general consensus to be that if you plant herbs in your garden, they should be In a cordened off space, separated from the rest of your vegetables, since herbs are prolific growers and can easily take over a garden space.  Herbs thrive the most when they get early morning sunlight and should be generously soaked when watered, but the dirt should be allowed to dry out in between watering sessions.  Also, for the best flavor and to extend their harvest season, some herbs, like mint, should be pinched back as flowers start to appear.

Garden Therapy! Planting herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

A separate planter box for herbs would be an ideal space to plant herbs and keep them contained from spreading into the rest of your other vegetable garden.  (These are easily made by cutting and securing a couple of layers of 2X4 wood planks or railroad ties together to a size that fits your space.)   

IMG_455984025 (3)

My husband and I chose to start our maiden voyage into the world of herb gardening by planting a few of our favorite herbs (basil, thyme and mint)  in a big container pot. 

IMG_455976961

The rich colors and textures of the various herbs are as pretty as any of the flowers in our other pots.

It only takes a quick glance online for you to be able to find countless unique and clever ideas for planting herbs…..

Garden Therapy! Planting Herbs! www.mytributejournal.com

Even if your herbs are growing in an outside garden during the summer months, you could easily transplant them to containers for inside use during the winter months too.  (I also think planting herbs in clay pots or other decorative planters can bring a fun element to your home décor too.)

A Tasty Mint Limeade Recipe!

The delicious mint limeade at Vinto’s Pizzeria, one of mine and my husband’s favorite restaurants, was what first inspired us to try our hand at growing a few herbs of our own!  Adding fresh basil to home-made spaghetti definitely sold us on using fresh herbs in some other recipes too.

Mint Limeade at Vinto's. www.mytributejournal.com

A few fresh mint leaves mixed in with a tangy limeade drink is summer in your mouth!  (You could always add some grape juice to make a refreshing lime rickey too.)   

After making and adapting several variations, this is the recipe I love for Mint Limeade:

Mint Limeade! www.mytributejournal.com

Depending how sweet or tart you prefer your limeade, adjust sugar accordingly.  I put in about a half liter of seltzer or ginger ale to this recipe–again, add to your liking. 

Mint Limeade Recipe! www.mytributejournal.com

Mint Limeade is the perfect drink to serve and enjoy for a patio party too!  Enjoy!!

Do you have a favorite drink that hits the spot and quenches your thirst on a hot summer day?  I hope you’ll share!

–Mary