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Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

Geraniums Galore - A Container Garden Delight
Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

All over the country, geraniums flaunt their red and scarlet, rose, pink, and white blooms with a gay abandon that few other plants can rival. In boxes on city fire escapes and rooftops, in window boxes on suburban and country houses, in tubs and pots on terraces and patios, and in hanging baskets of the porches of summer cottages, they are beloved and cherished plants

It needs sun to bloom; it tolerates shade, where it is usually handled as a foliage plant. What it resents is too much moisture and a rich diet. Kept too wet, the leaves turn yellow; given a heavy soil, one high in nitrogen plants go to foliage and flower sparingly.

Even if you choose no other plants, you could have a varied potted garden of single and double zonal, fancy-leaved or variegated, scented-leaved, ivy and Lady or Martha Washington geraniums (also called show or fancy geraniums), not to mention a few oddities of cactus and climbing types.

The zonal geranium is characterized by dark circular markings on the rounded green leaves. Double types dominate the trade and are offered by florists in the spring for planting in gardens and window boxes.

Variegated geraniums, with leaves that are often brilliantly colored, are attractive even out of bloom. Set among green-leaved geraniums and other foliage plants, pots of the variegated plants add color and pattern.

The trailing, ivy-leaved geraniums are among the most profuse flowering when grown under favorable conditions. They dislike shade and high humidity and thrive best in climates with warm days and cool nights, as in California.

Lady Washingtonís, considered the handsomest of geraniums, are not so easy to grow. Like the ivy-leaved, they prefer cool nights and warm, sunny days, preferring shelter from wind and all-day sun.

If you are a geranium gardener, you may want to spark your pot plant collection with some cactus and climbing geraniums. They will give you bizarre and fascinating forms and flowers and are certain to arouse comment.

Geraniums flourish and look well in pots, boxes, and planters. They thrive in various soil mixtures if drainage is good. For abundant bloom, however, supply a special preparation, not high in nitrogen, or lush foliage and few blooms will result. I have success with good garden soil and a sprinkling of a 5-10-5 fertilizer and bone meal. During the growing season, plants respond to a low-nitrogen fertilizer in liquid form.

When potting, be generous with drainage material to insure free passage of water. As with any plant, always water with care, since too much or not enough can be harmful. The best rule is to water when the surface of the soil feels dry. Then soak the soil well and do not water again until plants need it. If soil is kept too wet, leaves will turn yellow; if too dry they wilt and discolor.

To maintain even plant growth, turn containers from time to time. Remove yellow leaves and faded blossoms which are especially distracting on plants at doorways or any other key spots. If rain rots and disfigures the center florets of the heads, pull them off with your fingers, leaving the unmarred outer florets and buds.

If you want plants for next spring, take two- to four-inch cuttings in August or early September. Look for mature stems (with leaves spaced close together) that break easily like a snap bean. Woody growth is hard to root and succulent tips tend to rot. Before planting spread out cuttings in a shady place for several hours so leaves will lose excess moisture.

When ready to plant, cut off the lower leaves, allowing but two or three to each cutting. Also pull off the little wings on the stem, since they are inclined to rot. Dip stem ends in hydrated lime to prevent decay and then insert about halfway, in a flat or large pot of pure sand or a mixture of sand and peat moss. With geraniums, rooting powders are hardly necessary. When cuttings develop inch-long roots, they are ready for spacing out in another flat or for separate planting in 2Ω-inch pots. Fill with a mixture of three parts sandy loam and one part peat moss or leaf mold. After planting, keep in the shade for the first few days, and bring indoors before cold weather.

When the separated cuttings have developed strong root systems, shift to 3Ω- or 4-inch pots. Use the same potting mixture as before, with bone meal added. Later as established plants begin to grow, feed periodically with a high phosphorous fertilizer, as 5-10-5 or 4-12-8.

To keep plants bushy and to encourage branching, pinch while small, starting when they are three to four inches high. Provide sunny windows, and keep turning pots to prevent lopsided growth. Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out just a little between applications

Plants may be wintered in cool cellars with little light. Remember only that the less light, the cooler the temperatures should be. This is because too much warmth and insufficient light cause lanky growth that undermines a healthy plant.

Gardeners with cellars or sheds when temperatures remain above freezing, can winter geraniums hanging upside down from the ceiling. The dead-looking sticks, set out in pots or in the garden in warm weather, will astound you when they develop into glorious flowering plants.

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden

How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden
How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden

When you are ready to mix ingredients for your container garden, be sure the soil is damp and workable. To determine this, take a handful, squeeze it and allow it to drop. If water comes out, it is too wet; if it breaks apart, it is too dry. But if the lump of soil retains its shape or cracks just a little when it is dropped, it is in good condition to work into your gardening pots.

Be certain your garden containers are clean when you start. Soak used or new clay gardening pots overnight so they will not draw moisture from the soil after planting. This is a very important step when you are beginning your plants life. If the pot draws off the moisture the new plant will be deprived. Clean dirty clay pots with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water. Clean gardening pots will be much more attractive in your container garden.

Though redwood, cedar, and cypress gardening pots may be left natural, they may also be stained or painted. First clean the surfaces then apply one or two coats of stain or paint. Let dry completely before planting. Concrete, metal, plastic, fiberglass, and similar materials all need cleaning before planting your container garden.

Suiting plants to garden pots is very important in container garden design. Consider the shape of each container, its color, and texture in relation to the color of flowers and foliage, as well as the ultimate size of each plant in your container garden. Don’t choose material that is too small, and if you want a group of plants for a large container, select one tall specimen for the center to give height and scale. Donít forget that you can plant vegetables in container gardens; try to incorporate them into your container garden design. And, for a tasty addition to your container garden plant herbs in garden containers or even hanging baskets, your recipes will become marvelous.

In low pots or bulb pans and in tubs, use low-growing plants like fancy-leaved caladiums, petunias, verbenas, Iantanas, ageratum and wax begonias. Hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are also appropriate. In tall containers, plant specimens of geraniums, heliotropes, coleus, balsam, dwarf dahlias, fuchsias, and marguerites. Reserve the larger container pots and boxes for trees and shrubs or roses.

As a gardener, keep in mind the form of plants, particularly the evergreens which stand out boldly in winter. Rounded types, as clipped yews or globe arborvitae, look well in angular containers. Hollies or yews, sheared into squares or pyramids, look better in circular tubs. This contrast of the curving with the straight always gives interest to the garden and those guests that visit your container garden.

The first step in potting for a gardener is to place sufficient drainage material in the bottom of each garden container, allowing the water to pass through freely, but not so much as to interfere with the roots. An inch or two of flower pot pieces (rounded sides up), or chips of brick or flagstone, pebbles, gravel, small stones, or cinders can be used. The larger the container, the larger the pieces should be. Some gardeners spread a piece of coarse burlap and a layer of sand over large drainage pieces. A layer of Vermiculite or sphagnum moss over the drainage material is also fine to keep soil from clogging holes. If the holes clog the roots will drown in their gardening pot.

Above the drainage, spread a layer of soil, the amount depending on the size of the container and the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in position so that the surface of the soil will be an inch (more for big plants) below the rim of the container. This space is needed to hold water.

Fill soil in around the roots, firming gently with your fingers or a piece of wood so as to eliminate air pockets. Add more soil and firm, but do not make the soil too tight for fine feeding roots must be able to penetrate it with ease.

Finally, water your garden container plants well, let them drain. If water passes through the gardening pot very rapidly, press soil again to firm it; that means there are air pockets. If the soil holds water too long, loosen it a little.

Place the container garden in a sheltered spot out of sun and wind for the first week while they make new root growth and adjust to new conditions. This also helps to avoid shock. Once your plants have settled in, you ready to arrange your container garden according to your original container gardening design.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at http://www.GardeningHerb.com http://www.CruiseTravelDirectory.com and http://www.ContainerGardeningSecrets.com or contact her at mary@webmarketingreviews

Container Gardening Tips For New Gardeners

Container Gardening Tips For New Gardeners
Container Gardening Tips For New Gardeners

Container gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby that is enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. Not only is it relaxing and enjoyable, but you get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re growing your own plants and you know where they came from! With more and more stories on the news about various outbreaks of food poisoning from things like lettuce and green onions, many people are finding it important to start growing as much of their own produce as possible.

Many people are afraid to deal with container gardening. They think it is too difficult or too expensive. On the contrary, it is actually very easy and can be quite inexpensive! Here we explore the ease of setting up your first container garden, as well as the expenses involved.

We’re going to walk you through the process of setting up your first container garden. In this example, we will be growing some basil.

Step One: Purchase your container gardening supplies. You will need the following items for this example. Three plastic pots with drainage holes in the bottom, preferably with trays underneath to catch soil and water drainage, about 5-6 inches in diameter, and 5-6 inches deep, one packet of basil seeds, one small bag of organic compost, one small bag of peat moss, one small garden trowel, one small watering can or clean spray bottle, and one very sunny windowsill (or a florescent or halogen grow light if no sunny window is available.) The total cost for these materials will be somewhere around $20 or less if you have a sunny windowsill. If you need a grow light, that will cost an additional $15-$20.

Step Two: Prepare the soil. Mix together 1 part peat moss with 5 parts compost. (For every one trowel full of peat moss, put in 5 trowels full of compost.) Fill the three pots up to about Ω inch from the top with this mixture.

Step Three: Plant the seeds. Simply make a hole about 1 inch deep in the center of each pot with your finger. Put about three seeds into each hole. Then cover the seeds with soil. Water lightly and place in the windowsill or under a grow light. Once the seeds sprout and reach about 2 inches in height, remove any extra sprouts so that you only have one plant in each pot.

Step Four: In order to care for your plants, all you need to do is water them regularly and keep them maintained. Check the soil daily for moisture. Whenever the soil feels dry, water lightly. To maintain the bushy growth, pinch off the tops of each stem every couple of weeks and remove any flower stalks as soon as you see them growing.

That’s it! It’s really that simple to start a container garden. In this example, we planted basil, but you can apply this method to practically any herb, small vegetable, or flower, with only minor modifications.

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