Always use a good quality potting mix (not soil) for your containers. Soil is variable and often too poorly drained to use in pots. Potting mixes should have adequate drainage, good wettability, and suitable nutrient levels and pH. Thrive Premium is a good example of a top quality mix.
Remember that pots dry out much more readily than soil and are also more likely to be affected by the surrounding air temperature. The larger the pot, the easier it will be to look after. Large pots retain moisture and maintain a more even temperature but it’s a good idea, for aesthetic reasons, to keep the size of the plant in proportion to the container.
Select a pot that will stand the test of time, a cheaper pot won’t last and will need to be replaced. The black plastic pots that most plants come in do heat up quickly and provide little insulation.
There’s a wide selection of different containers available, each with its pluses and minuses. They include:
Terracotta: Traditional terracotta pots are made from fired clay. They are attractive and fairly expensive. Because they’re porous they lose moisture from the sides but the evaporation from the pot sides helps the mix to stay cooler.
Plastic: Lightweight and economical, plastic pots come in a wide range of colours. Because of their non-porous sides they help to retain the moisture in the potting mix. Black plastic pots absorb heat, which can raise the temperature of the mix to unacceptably high levels.
Glazed Pots: Ceramic Pots are waterproofed with a clear glaze coating. Depending on the size, they can be very expensive.
YES! Potted plants need to be fertilised regularly during their growing period. The easiest way to do this is to use controlled release pellets such as Acticote or, if you prefer something organic, Dynamic Lifter Liquid fertilisers such as Aquasol, Thrive Soluble and Nature’s Way Multi-nutrient Plant Food can also be used but need to be reapplied fairly frequently (at least once every two weeks during the growing season.) If you use dry, granular fertiliser take special care to moisten the potting mix before applying and water well afterwards to dissolve the fertiliser salts. Because the root system of a potted plant is confined it is more likely to be burnt by dry fertilisers.
Hanging baskets look delightful but need very special care. Those in the shade are relatively easy to look after but, if hanging in the sun, baskets dry out very quickly. Wire baskets with fibre or bark linings are attractive but it’s wise to put a sheet of plastic inside the liner. Poke a few holes in the plastic sheet to allow drainage before filling with hanging basket potting mix. After planting and watering, any plastic sheet that is visible can be trimmed away with a pair of scissors. The plastic sheet won’t be seen but will make a huge difference to the water-holding ability of the basket.
Plastic hanging baskets are easier to care for because they retain more moisture than wire baskets. The same rule applies with baskets as with other pots – the bigger the container, the easier it is to look after! Yates Tuscan Hanging Baskets have a self-watering feature so they’re less likely to dry out.