The Right Way to Plant
Whether you have propagated the plants yourself or just bought them, there are a few important points to remember before you get to work.
• The best time for establishing most summer flowering plants is spring. However container-grown plants can be planted all year round except during periods of frost.
• Plants kept indoors should be acclimatized gently to conditions outside by placing them in a sheltered position outdoors for a few days.
• The root ball must never be allowed to dry out. Before planting a new plant in its container, water it generously. If very dry, leave it to soak in a bucket or bowl of water.
• Newly planted specimens, especially flowering plants, will be a bit tender, so they should be protected from possible late frosts. Simply cover them in the evening with bubble wrap, straw matting or newspaper.
• Plants bought in plastic pots should be removed from the pots before planting, but pots made from peat or recycled waste paper need not be removed. Nonetheless the plants will root more easily if these are first lightly crushed or torn open.
• Repot plants at the same depth as before.
• Leave a space of about 2 cm (a little less than 1 in) at the top so that thedoes not get washed over the edge when the plant is watered.
• All containers should have drainage holes. Re-used containers should be thoroughly washed with soft soap and water or a water and vinegar solution.
• Place shards of clay or expanded clay at the bottom of the container to improve the drainage.
• Young plants should be planted in small pots so that the roots quickly fill the pot.
• Then water the container generously so that the plants have sufficient moisture and any holes in the soil are washed together.
Looking for a stand-in for the holidays
You all know the problem – who will look after your beloved plants, your pride and joy during the holidays? If you are lucky you will have helpful neighbours who will be very happy to help. But there are also watering systems that can make your life much easier. Garden centres sell containers and hanging baskets for balconies, fitted with water-tanks. This can give you up to 2 weeks free of watering, depending on the weather. More complicated automatic watering systems are also available.
To reduce evaporation you should put the plants in a shady position and cut off all the flowers. Larger specimens should be placed in a tray that is filled with water just before you leave.
Smaller containers can be watered using a wick. Push one end of the wick into the soil and the other end in a bowl or bucket filled with water. Make sure that the wick cannot slip out. It is best to use wicks made from artificial material so that as little water as possible evaporates. You can also place several pots in a bowl filled with clay granules, saturated with water.