Adding potted plants to your garden can create a dynamic look. We love designing potted plants for our commercial and residential properties year-round. Here are some care tips from our plant specialist Christy Norton.
Choosing the right plants for your pots, and the right pots for your plants is essential. Don’t choose the same size pot as what you are going to plant. Generally, plants come in 1-5 gallon containers, so you’ll want to purchase a pot that is several gallons larger than the plant itself. As for choosing the right plants, purchase a variety of types and sizes. Consider buying trailing plants that drape down the side of the pot along with heightened plants such as grasses and spikes. We call these thrills, spills, and fills. Of course, plan to add color with a variety of flowers, In Colorado, the most common plants for pots are geraniums, marigolds, and petunias.
After you’ve purchased a variety of plant sizes, shapes and heights, plan your pot’s look before you begin to transplant from containers. The tallest plant should be in the back, and the shorter ones in front. Unless the pot will be viewed from all sides, the tallest plant should be in the middle.
Be extra careful when transplanting plants to a pot. The roots of the plant will be stressed, so you need to soak the plant extremely well with water and fertilizer to help the roots establish. It’s also very important to make sure all roots are under the dirt layer. Put plants in the pot first, and then add the soil around it. Make sure the soil level is about ½ inch below the edge of the pot, otherwise water will make the dirt spill over.
Caring for the soil in potted plants is much different than caring for plants in the ground. Having a happy growing medium is very important. You can use potting soil that is specific to the types of plants you want to grow. Often this potting soil has been previously infused with fertilizer and nutrients needed to foster growth. If you already have soil in a pot, let’s say from years’ past, you can simply amend the soil to give it more nutrients for new plant material. Consider adding Miracle-Gro once every two weeks or mixing in a natural compost. For more information on soil, check out our blog, “Why Soil pH Matters.”
Watering Potted Plants
Because potted plants are not rooted in the ground, watering techniques will be different. Potted plants don’t have a deeper source of ground water to pull from when they are thirsty, so a frequent manual watering schedule is required. How do you know when to water? Your soil will be a good indicator of the watering frequency. If the soil is dry and crumbly, it is usually a sign it’s time to water. Here in Colorado, it’s normal to water two to three times a week. For indoor potted plants, however, you will water only once a week because the sun isn’t evaporating the moisture as quickly.
Tips for Potted Plants in Cooler Temperatures
Caring for your potted plants year round can be a challenge. Because Colorado Springs can drop to freezing temperatures in the winter, generally potted plants thrive from May to October.
If you have perennials in your pots, make sure you care for them when the temperature drops. Especially when we get random cold fronts in the spring, cover your plants with a sheet or bag to protect them from the freeze. You should also consider moving smaller pots indoors.
Because most annuals die in the fall, the winter months are a good opportunity to try a new design in your pots. An evergreen shrub is a great option to fill your pots when the weather gets cold. For holidays, add pinecones, silk flowers, weather-proof ornaments and holiday lights to make your pots look festive. You should also consider adding twigs, pomegranate fruits or just simply cover the dirt with mulch.
If you have evergreen plants in your pots during the winter months, you still need to water them. Many people don’t realize they need to water if it rains or snows on the pots. The problem? The moisture actually only hits the foliage and doesn’t land in the soil. For more tips on winter watering, visit our blog, “Colorado Springs Landscaping Timeline” or complete the form below.