Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Replacement

I swear every spring that I won’t buy pansies that will end up being a “throw-away” item when the weather heats up and yet I still buy them. It’s hard to resist the new colors that seem to pop up every year in the garden centers as soon as the snow melts off the  plant tables and once I smell the fragrance of pansies…I cave.

This year I bought a flat of “coordinated” colors ranging from a soft burgundy to a pale apricot.  They were lovely in the hanging basket between the garage doors and in the terra cotta pot at the foot of the walkway but once the  hot weather hit…they went south, lol.  I cut off all of the blooms and arranged them in a clear glass rose bowl and enjoyed their loveliness indoors for a few days along with their scent.

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 Instead of sending the spent pansies to the recycle bin (compost pile), like I would normally do.  I gave them a severe haircut (think flat top), a couple of shots of organic fertilizer and moved them to the shady side of the house for their “summer vacation”. 

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As you can see from the picture above, they look pretty sad but over the summer, I’ve been making sure they get watered and fertilized regularly, and occasionally pinching back some of the taller growth to get them nice and bushy again.  I’ve even been pulling off the flower buds that have started to reappear so that the plants will put their energy into growing thicker, lusher stems and leaves.  When cooler temps return and their summer replacements are done, the cold-loving pansies will take center stage again blooming well into late fall and early winter.

So what is the summer replacement…

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Garden 2011 057I love the look of coconut fiber baskets and have several different sizes.   I have a large 12-inch  basket for between the garage doors and  I planted it with “Blueberry Ice” petunias mixed with “Royal Purple” verbena, white verbena, white allysum and white petunias.  All of them with the exception of the blueberry ice petunias are “Proven Winner” varieties. 

It’s not difficult to make your own hanging container but it takes a couple of weeks before it will fill out and look as good as the ones that you can buy right off the rack so to speak, of course you’ll pay a pretty penny for having the work done for you and you won’t have as many color/combo options either.   

In my area you can spend a small fortune buying a beautiful hanging basket and I’ve seen some go for as much as $75.00 depending on the size of the pot and what plants used.  Mine cost me a grand total of $13.98 and the best part is, I can reuse the wire basket and compost the coconut fiber lining and not add another plastic pot to the landfill.  Here’s the cost breakdown:

  • wire plant basket $6.99 at Big Lots several years ago
  • coconut fiber liner $1.00 at Dollar Tree
  • potting soil – had on hand (I buy this in bulk) $2.00 worth
  • 4” pot “Blueberry Ice” petunia – FREE give-away from a garden club guest speaker
  • 4” pot “Royal Purple” verbena – $2.99 – local garden center
  • 6” pot Mixed White Annual Assortment (Proven Winners) from Big Box Garden Center- $7.99

I water hangers EVERYDAY unless it rains and I fertilize my outside planters weekly during the summer with liquid organic fertilizer “tea” (Neptune’s Harvest).  This is a lot of fertilizing but with five or six plants in one container you have to feed often.  The roots will fill the pot first before the top growth kicks in and takes off and that accelerated growth depletes all of the nutrients in the potting soil in a matter of a couple of weeks.   If you use a granulated fertilizer like “Osmacote” you only need to add it once when you plant your container and it will continue to release fertilizer over the course of the summer.

Both petunias and verbena love the hot weather but do need to be deadheaded every couple of days and pinched back when they start to get spindly looking.   Don’t be afraid to prune annuals back hard when they get floppy and stringy.  If they really look awful after a bad haircut, move them into a protected spot and continue to water and fertilize till they bounce back which is usually in a week or two.  

Don’t forget about the give-away this week!   There’s an extra surprise in store for the winner!

1 comment:

  1. The plants I replanted are still growing, so hopefully they will produce flowers too, lol. I need to get some long pots to put on my porch. We have built in benches, so I think that or some long hanging type for the rails would be good for our porch and I could plant better in those, than in a round one.



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