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Choosing the Right Container

Choosing garden containers can be a very daunting process - there are so many choices and you want to get the ones which are right for your patio or deck. One way to help narrow down your choices is to decide on a material to use. Here I’ll describe a few of the most common materials used for container gardens and the pros and cons of each.

Terra Cotta or Clay are the most widely used and recognized flower pots. Clay pots are porous which helps keeps the potting soil cool and wicks excess moisture away from plant roots (a great benefit if you tend to over-water your plants). The pots are relatively fragile, hard frosts can crack the containers and it can dry out quite rapidly, especially in sunny locations.
Glazed Ceramic are my favorite because they come in a large variety of sizes with textures and patterns and there are so many glaze colors and options. They are durable and hold moisture in the soil better than terra cotta. Glazed ceramic pots can be quite heavy and typically have a higher price tag.  
Plastic (a.k.a. Resin or Polyethylene) is often the least expensive type of garden container. A good, high quality plastic pot will last for decades; whereas, an inexpensive discount store item will typically fail after two or three seasons – plastic containers have a tendency to become dry and brittle in our climate. Plastic is non-porous and retains water easily (a good feature if you water irregularly). The best feature of plastic pots is that they are light weight.
Fiberglass containers are lightweight and strong. They are created using a molding process which often includes a three dimensional motif or texture. Fiberglass is a great choice if you will need to move your containers around or if you are concerned about young children or big dogs knocking your plants over since they are not easily broken.
Fiber Lined Metal Frames are typical for hanging baskets and some window boxes. The fiber is typically coconut fiber or sphagnum moss. They are light weight, which is important when you're hanging them, but they tend to dry out quickly. Place a piece of plastic with just a couple of holes poked in it in the bottom of the liner to help slow down the draining water. The fiber liners typically wear out after a year or two and need to be replaced.
Of course there are many more choices including concrete, wood, cast-iron and sheet metal, I'm just covering the most common garden pottery. I have a small inventory of pottery if you're looking for some new containers or contact me if you just need some advice.

Flowers are coming soon!

The Patio Plants spring planting service for container gardens begins May 14th and I'm working on the schedule now. Don't forget, spring weather in Colorado is very fickle! We've had freezing temperatures and snow on Mother's Day for the past three years.

I continue to offer Landscape Design Services focusing on the do-it-yourself homeowner. Of course, if you don't want to do the work yourself (or are not able to), you can contract out the installation using my design. I have several contacts who are capable installers. Contact me to get your plan started!

I have a couple of openings in my schedule this summer for fine garden maintenance contracts. By fine garden maintenance, I mean caring for a perennial or annual flower bed with some shrubs or ornamental grasses. I do not offer lawn mowing services or tree trimming. Let me know if you're interested; most contracts provide bi-weekly garden visits.

One final reminder, I still pay for referrals! Refer a friend and receive a  $25 discount or nursery gift card.
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The plants are whispering, and they said...   

bunny and talking tulip

Sometimes it would be nice to have a plant tell you, quite clearly, what is troubling it. Unfortunately, plants don't speak English but they frequently use a botanical sign language. Be careful though, their sign language is tricky! A wilted plant may be dry or it may have too much water. If the plants could speak for themselves, here's some things they would like to tell you.
  • Tulips are a favorite of rabbits and deer but the plants don't particularly like being munched. There are lots of ideas to deter the munchers including bars of soap and cayenne pepper. The only product I've ever had any luck with is "Liquid Fence" but it smells so horrible it repels both the rabbits and the gardener!
  • The early blooming Daffodils are finished with their show and they feel droopy. Cut off the spent flowers both because they don't look nice and also so the plant doesn't expend energy on seeds. Allow the foliage to remain until it turns yellow to nourish the bulbs.
  • The turf grass feels like it's suffocated and squished. Core aerating the lawn at this time of year increases the oxygen in the root zone for your lawn and promotes healthy growth.
  • The roses think last years' canes are too heavy and they are ready to be cut back. If you didn't cut your roses back in the fall (or only cut them back part way), they're beginning to bud out and are ready for their spring trim. Look for the first or second outward facing bud, then cut at a diagonal just above the bud. If some canes died over the winter, cut them back as low to the ground as possible.
  • Cool-season vegetable seeds, such as lettuce, spinach and peas, are eager to get out of their seed packets and directly into the vegetable garden soil. 
  • Are your plants trying to say something but you don't understand them? Perhaps I can interpret!  Send me an email, call or text me at (970) 988-3808 to chat about your plants.
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