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Keep your porch pots and containers looking great all summer!

We’ve been excited as always to see so many of our baskets and porch pots leave our greenhouses and then appear on your front porches and walkways! They look full and lush and healthy right now, and we wanted to share the following five steps to help you keep them looking their best all summer.

1. Location, location, location!

Make sure you understand how much sunlight your container needs!

  • Full sun: 6+ hours of direct, bright sunshine.

  • Part sun: 3-4 hours of direct, bright sunshine; these do best in morning or early afternoon sun

  • Part shade: Morning sun okay; needs to be protected from intense afternoon and evening sunlight

  • Shade: Little to no direct sunlight; some early morning sun or filtered sunlight is okay

Wind is an important factor too. If the location for your basket or pot is windy, you will need hardier plants. More delicate plants call for some protection. This is an especially important consideration for those hanging baskets.

2. Water Properly

Porch pots and hanging baskets dry out quickly and need to be watered daily!

  • We do these by weight! Get to know your containers and how they feel when they are dry versus how heavy they are when the soil is moist. Check them every morning (before noon), and again around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. If they are starting to feel light, give them a good soaking. Water should come out of the bottom of the container.

  • Beware: if the soil has dried out too much, water will come out the bottom immediately. If this has happened, it’s best to find a larger container and thoroughly soak your pot or basket so the soil will absorb moisture again.

  • The exception to this rule would be if it’s a cooler, cloudy day and the container feels fairly wet already - in this case, feel free to wait a day (still check in the afternoon).

  • In fact, watering needs for containers can vary greatly depending on the weather, so get ready to change it up based on hot vs. cool days, sunny vs. cloudy, windy vs. calm. Checking on them in the afternoon will help manage the varying conditions during any particular day.

  • Also, a major watering no-no…do NOT depend on a rainstorm to properly water your containers! The leaves will deflect most rain water, and the soil itself won’t get a proper soaking.

  • Always water the soil, not the plants! Remember you are watering the roots, not the leaves!

3. Fertilize Flowering Plants

  • Flowering plants quickly use up the nutrients available in the limited amount of soil in a container.

  • There are lots of fertilizers available. Pick one intended for flowering plants and use it according to the instructions!

  • We carry a variety of quality fertilizers here at Hillside, both organic and non-organic. We use Jack’s brand on all of our plants in the greenhouse.

4. Trim & Clean!

Trimming, or pinching back, trailing or vining plants will keep them from getting too leggy and help them grow fuller.

  • Most plants benefit from some regular shaping! Keep in mind that, generally, at the spot you cut a stem, two more will sprout. Therefore, trimming back a stem deeper in the plant is going to result in a better overall shape.

  • Don’t be afraid to trim your plant! You are not going to hurt it.

Cleaning (dead-heading) old, spent blooms encourages your plants to continue flowering.

  • Some plant varieties self-clean, meaning gravity and wind are enough to dislodge old blooms. Most require a little bit of maintenance by you to stay looking their best!

  • Petunias, impatiens and sunpatiens, for example, require a quick plucking of wilted flowers to keep looking nice. Geraniums are another that do best with a little extra care - you can snap off spent blooms at the base of the stem. For verbena and lantana, we trim back any stems that have spent blooms deeper in the plant.

  • Every plant is a little bit different - get to know your plants, and if you have questions, ask us! We’re happy to provide some guidance.

5. Be consistent.

Daily watering, weekly or bi-weekly cleaning and trimming, and fertilizing according to the instructions will help keep your plants looking their best.

It’s much easier to properly maintain your pots and baskets than it is to revive them after they’ve gotten thirsty, hungry, or overgrown!

Hope this information will help you to enjoy your plants throughout the entire summer!

As always, we’re grateful to be the place where you get your plants…see you at the greenhouse!

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