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Growing Flowers in Pots
Potted flowers in a shaded garden space
Potted flowers in a shaded garden space
As we know, every green leaf holds carbon that could be in the atmosphere. Those green leaves can also fuel the abundant flowers that we all enjoy. Without large garden areas and the time needed to tend them, growing flowering plants in pots is a fun alternative.

It can be easier than you think. Planting flowers well suited for your situation can bring you success! Flowers (just like you) are happy doing their job if you provide the environment they need. Soil, light, temperature, and water are the variables to assess. Plant according to your circumstances. If you a have hot, sunny deck with plenty of water, you have lots of choices. Petunias, Geranium, Ageratum, Angelonia, tropicals like Hibiscus and Diplodena come to mind. If you have a shady area that’s bright, then Impatiens, Thunbergia, and non-stop begonias are good choices.

Potted flowers on a deck
Potted flowers on a deck

How to Begin

As you have your own pots, choose plants that you enjoy that will work in the environment you have. Soil volume is important. During the warm growing season it is hard to overwater your containers. It is easy to let them get too dry between waterings. If you know that you tend to forget or not have time to water often choose larger containers for your plants. This gives the plant a more forgiving environment to thrive in. When choosing a container larger is better so size up if you’re not sure.

Selecting Flowers

When starting from seed, choose plants that are Dwarf or shorter in stature. For example the Magellan series zinnia is well suited for pots, whereas the Benary giant would do better in the ground.

I always look at the height listed on the package. Less than 2 feet tall is a good rule of thumb. When you buy flowers already started try to select those that have buds coming rather than those in full bloom. They will adjust to the stress of transplanting more easily and will give you the show they were grown for. Check that their light requirements match your growing spot.

Soil and Fertilizer

Finding good soil is always a challenge. I prefer a lighter soil. If the bag says for indoor or out it’s probably not a great soil. Soil with fertilizer is generally milled bark mulch with a fertilizer charge, so I avoid those. It is better to select an organic fertilizer to add to a good sterile soil mix.

Look for a fertilizer that has biology. It will say that it has microorganisms or beneficial bacteria. These microorganisms attach to the root hairs of the plant and regulate the food and moisture for the plant. Fertilizing lightly once a week is better than heavier less often.


Mixed flowers
Mixed flowers

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Planting

First fill the pots two-thirds full of organic potting soil that is somewhat moist. It should not clump and be too wet when gently squeezed also not fly away dry. Mix the organic fertilizer in the top 2 inches of soil so that it will be available to the roots as they come in contact with that soil.

Gently nestle the soil around the plant after you have put the new plant in the pot. Don’t over compact. Make sure the soil is even and in contact with the new root ball. if the root ball is just roots going round and round the pot it’s good to take the clippers and snip them near the bottom of the plant in 4 or five places to help them break out of the root ball.

The top of the soil in the pot should end up even with the top of the soil of the plant. When planting more than one plant in a pot, leave space for them to grow. Also, turn the plants so that the nicest side of the plant faces the ‘front’ of the pot. Doing that makes it look terrific immediately.

Pots ready to water
Pots ready to water

Caring for your Flower Pots

Your pots are planted now. "Water them in" using a watering can with a diffuser or a hose with a diffuser is best. Water thoroughly the soil all around the top of the pot. You may have to do this a few times during the first watering to get the soil evenly moist. Water does not travel side to side in a pot so it is important to go all the way around. This settles the soil to create contact with the roots.

When the plants are new and the temperatures are cooler, watering will be needed less often. As the plants grow and the temperatures warm, you will gradually increase the watering frequency. In August, every day may be the norm.

Water well when you water. How long you wait between watering depends on the temperature and how big the plant has gotten.

If the pot gets overly dry, the soil tends to pull away from the sides of the pot. In that case when you water, the water goes around the root ball and right out the bottom giving you a false notion the plant has had enough. If this happens put a two inch or more saucer under the pot and fill with water, and add more until it stops drinking. Once your flowers have faded, you will want to remove the spent blossoms to encourage new ones.

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