Container garden maintenance
Water well and less frequently
- Plants need water but plant roots also need oxygen. When plants are watered thoroughly the water draws in air which aerates the soil. It is therefore better to water well and less frequently than little and often.
- Water the plants in the morning or evening when evaporation is low. Watering the plants during a hot summer day can cause sunburn on foliage and shock the plant roots with cold water.
- Use rainwater when possible.
Break up the soil
- Use a hand fork to break up the soil surface regularly. This will help to keep the soil well-aerated. Take care so as not to damage shallow roots (e.g. Bay trees).
- A topping of bark mulch, clay pebbles (leca) or stone pebbles will also help keep the soil structure open, retain moisture and insulate against cold or heat. Bark mulch is our favourite since it adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
- When you buy ready planted from us or when you have planted up your pots with new quality compost mixture there is no need to feed the plants during the first months since the compost mixture is full of nutrients.
- Only feed the plants during the growing season (April-September) and follow the guidelines for each plant. When possible use organic fertilisers. If adding artificial fertilisers keep the concentration low and feed regularly. Too much fertiliser may harm the plant.
- Most plants need repotting after a few years or when the root system has become too big for the pot (there are some plants that actually like being slightly pot bound).
- It's normally advised to choose a pot that is next size up but most patio plants won't mind a large container with lots of room to grow in.
- If the plant is stuck in the pot give it a good watering and it will be easier to loosen.
- Untangle the roots. Up to one third of the roots can be cut off if there isn't enough room in the planter. Trim the plant foliage in relative proportion to the cutting of the roots.
- Make sure there are drainage holes at the base of the pot. Without drainage holes the soil gets waterlogged and the roots drown from lack of oxygen supply and prevents diffusion of carbon dioxide.
- Add drainage material such as crocks, leca pebbles or gravel and then mix in some compost.
- Place the plant in the pot and fill up with suitable compost mix.
- Add a topping of bark mulch, clay pebbles or stone pebbles.
- Water thoroughly and let the plant re-establish itself sheltered from drying winds and hot sunshine.
Protect your patio plants from hard frost
- Move less frost hardy plants to an unheated frost free storage, a shed, conservatory or indoors (but never into a warm room) during cold weather conditions. Alternatively, wrap them up with horticultural fleece, bubble wrap or hessian sacking to protect from hard frost. It's important to also wrap up the containers to avoid that the compost freeze which may damage the roots. For good protection we would recommend wrapping up pots with thick layers of straw. If you use 'fleece plant jackets' make sure they are thick and big enough to cover the whole plant and container. Tender plants such as Citrus trees or Cycads should always be moved to frost free storage during the winter in the UK.
- Plants will tolerate less frost if it's windy. Move them to a sheltered position close to a house or along a wall.
- Cold damp soil together with frost is a very bad combination for some plants such as Palm trees. Protect the plant from excess rain or snow by covering the pot.
- Please read the care tips for each plant.