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It's Not Too Late!

Sometimes people feel like they missed the proper planting time and decide it's not worth bothering because they're late. When plants are well cared for, they will easily last through the end of September. Why pass up on having a beautiful patio for the rest of the summer just because you are running a little bit late?  

If you still need plants, I'm still planting! (In fact, I'm still working on the planters at my own house.) Contact me today! 

Tell Your Friends

When your guests admire your lovely container gardens, please refer them to Patio Plants Unlimited. You can earn $25 off your planting service for each referral.

Get Out!

Here's a check-list of yard work to do now:

  • Deadhead flowers as they fade to promote continuous bloom.
  • Continue to control weeds either by manually pulling them or by using an herbicide. 
  • Pinch back chrysan- themums to get nice, tight plants covered in blooms next fall. Pinch off all the growing ends now, again in June and again in July. Pinch 1"-2" off the tops of each stem. A sharp pair of scissors works well or you can just use your fingers.
  • Mow the lawn to no less than 2" (higher is better) and don't bother bagging the clippings. Allowing the clippings to fall back on the lawn recycles some of the nitrogen blue grass demands.
  • Plant seeds for zucchini and pumpkin directly in the garden by mid-June.  

"The color combination Stephanie put together is so eye-catching, I've had several neighbors stop on their walks to compliment my porch. The house is so much more welcoming with flowers."

Fort Collins

Soil-less Potting Soil

Last month I gave you a brief overview of Soil Science. I also mentioned that I always use high quality potting soil in all my container gardens. In fact, the potting soil I use is not soil at all -- it is a "soil-less growing medium." If that term confused you, please allow me to explain.

You may remember from last month's newsletter that soil is described
as sand, silt or clay and further defined by the relative concentration of each. (If you missed that newsletter, you can read it on-line.) However, plants don't really require sand, silt or clay to grow. Plant roots need a damp, dark location and require nutrients for growth. Soil isn't required as demonstrated by hydroponics. Plants can be grown in any substance as long as it provides the necessary nutrients.

So what is in a bag of "potting soil" if its not soil? The main ingredient is predominantly sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum peat is lightweight, relatively inexpensive and a renewable resource. It is well draining yet water retentive. Other ingredients include bark (to improve air space), perlite (which looks like pebbly styrofoam and improves water retention), and vermiculite (which improves water holding capacity). A good high-quality potting soil includes a complete fertilizer and is tested and adjusted for proper pH. Often, limestone or gypsum is added to the mix to adjust the pH level.

Actually, there is a lot of science that goes into each bag of potting soil. Before I plant new flowers each spring, I remove at least 2/3 of last year's soil. Inside a flower pot there's not much room for error - why chance it with soil which may no longer have enough vital nutrients or may have a pH imbalance?

The soil is the foundation for the plants so don't scrimp and get lousy potting soil. My favorite potting mix is Fertilome Ultimate. It has a nice, fluffy texture and a good earthy scent. I can also attest that flowers and plants of all types love it!

Which is Better?

I am often asked if it wouldn't be better to just get hanging baskets from  the local nursery or discount store. My response is that the full-grown baskets will not last as long as the baskets I plant. To prove my point, this year follow along with the pictures of my unscientific experiment: 
Big Box Logo
As you can see in the picture below, the baskets are hanging side-by-side so there will be no difference in sun or wind exposure. The baskets are exactly the same - 12" diameter plastic pots. Both are plugged into my drip irrigation system and I will do my best to treat them equally. My basket is filled with similar plants in the some color scheme: red, white and purple. The "big-box store" plant is on the left and the Patio Plants Unlimited basket is on the right.
May Baskets
OK, I concede this month- the plants  in both baskets are green and healthy, but the big-box store basket is fuller and has more blooms. I'm not giving up that easily, though! Watch for my newsletter next month and see how my experiment progresses!

If you have any questions about your plants or irrigation system, please contact me. I sincerely hope your patio is your own special haven.

Stephanie Selig
tel: (970) 988-3808