When speaking of things going wrong with your container plants, pests are one aspect, but what about others such as leaf drop? Well some leaf drop on container and house plants is normal and older plants should be expected to drop a leaf or two occasionally. But if this is a worry for you then consider the following and correct the situation where you can.
Plants drop their leaves for various reasons and these include: low humidity (e.g. gardenia); tired (or used up) soil; marked light and temperature changes; poor growing conditions (or unsuitable growing conditions for the specific plant); pot may be too small or plant has outgrown the container and is root bound (and so cannot take up water and nutrients properly) and finally here, it may be transplant shock.
Of course the biggest reason that plants drop leaves is over-or-under watering. Check this first and you may solve the problem quickly.
We can look at brown tips on leaves and yellow leaves and root problems on other TIP days.
Container gardening is easy ... but it it hard work, and in that word 'hard' are those other ideas like 'consistency' and 'knowledge'. There is so much to say about this and as a container gardener I am sure you know what I mean - it does take self-discipline and intent to keep a container garden going and looking good. Of course behind this is the love you have of flowers and plants and all things green touched with some passion and the love of sitting back in your space that you created. Why say all this? Well, I just want you to know that I applaud you for what you do!
When speaking of HARD, you can imagine it would be very hard to replant an established tree that you have decided to grow in a container, so plan ahead if this is what you want to do. How big will the tree grow in a couple of years? Is it the a dwarf variety? Is it deciduous or evergreen? Does it suit your space? Can it withstand your weather conditions and if not, how can you support/protect it? Of course there are many other questions that could be asked here - you would need to assess your own situation.
Choose the 'right' container from the outset (amongst other factors it must be able to support your mature tree) and, with the end image in your mind, just keep potting up as the sapling grows until it reaches the size that suits in the container you have chosen. In the meantime, as it's growing you can certainly share its space with other flowering plants.
I did that with my lemon tree and it looks so good today. I still have drooping allysum and lobelia sharing its space with bark mulch. Looks good. Grows well. Gives me fruit. I love it!
Last edited by Lestie4containergardens; 11/19/2005:28 AM.
There is so much you can do with a container! If you want to add a vertical aspect to your space, you can grow climbers and creepers (and even some ‘creeping’ shrubs like bougainvillea or hydrangea) and bring a real splash of nature to a wall or moss-stick near you. Add some trellis or some steel plant props to your pots, make the difficult choice of which ones to plant then sit back and enjoy them as they grow and keep you sane. Stuck? Just choose a variety of Ivy – miniature, small, big, bi-colour, crinkled … my friend says ivy is a cliché in the garden and I say so what! It’s a cliché because it’s so popular and pretty and successful and easy to grow.
CONTAINER GARDENING TIP OF THE DAY ... Saturday just turned into Sunday this week!
Sometimes you want to change the look of your indoor plants and balcony containers and there is nothing wrong with mixing it up and giving your houseplants a bit of fresh air by moving them from inside to outside, especially when spring comes. I think they like it, more so if you tell them what you are going to do and why (smile please) then move them out slowly or step by step as it were. They need to get used to being ‘outdoors’ or to their new positions, and you don’t want to stress them by shocking them into droopy leaves and more.
Make sure their leaves are clean, check for sneaky bugs, check fertiliser and water needs and put them in dappled shade for a while before (or if) you intend to place them in a full sun position. Of course, all this depends on what plants you have.
I have just started to do something (well over the past few months) and it’s working. I think. I have a large plastic bucket (a pretty one) in my kitchen and whenever I boil potatoes or eggs or vegetables, I strain the water and add it to this to cool down. Before this I just used to throw the water down the drain.
When it’s about ¾ full and I can still carry the bucket, I use this water for my containers. I know that the egg water adds a measure of calcium to the plants and I am sure there must be some goodness in the other cooked-in ‘water’.
I am thankfully old enough not to need scientific evidence that comes in screeds of small print that is packaged with cautionary tales of professional indemnity! My plants haven’t complained yet so I aim to carry on. Maybe you can consider doing this and let me know what you think?
I don’t have to wait for it to be ¾ full – in fact I do not keep this water for longer than a day before I use it. I am not into scientific experiments!
Today’s tip is all about you. And being creative. And cherishing yourself.
By establishing and taking care of plants (even if it is only one container) you are essentially taking care of yourself. Not all realise this but it is true – speak to any gardener and they might just smile. They will have stories to tell and share, but they will smile.
It doesn’t matter how big your garden is, the endeavour is a soothing and therapeutic past-time. Just having plants around you to care for gives you focus, improves your general mood and lowers stress levels while boosting productivity. Wow. All that from just having a plant to water and care for. Sounds like a very fair exchange to me.
It’s month-end essentially – why not indulge yourself and get another pot plant for your collection or buy one for someone else? Perhaps there is space for another succulent or maybe a spent 'spiller' could be replaced?
"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint and the soil and sky as canvas." Elizabeth Murray.
"We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it's our garden that is really nurturing us." Jenny Uglow
There are always a lot of little jobs that you can or need to do in your container garden and one is to check that your plants’ leaves are not dusty (something that happens more often than not). Besides aesthetics, dusting the leaves helps the plants to photosynthesize optimally.
While there are products on the market that you can buy to make leaves look glossy and all, I have found that these are oil-based somehow and often just attract more dust. That and using milk to clean your leaves. I used to use/do both but don’t do so anymore. Besides, it’s easy to get some on the undersides of the leaves and block their ability to ‘breathe’.
Just cut a large enough corner off one of those kitchen sponges, wet it with plain water and it will do the job very well; it is small enough to reach all the nooks and crannies and cleaning is so easy. Rinsing the sponge is too .
Of course this doesn’t work for violets and any of her other furry-leaved friends. For these I use a dedicated paint brush.
What do you do with your empty cardboard (not polystyrene) egg cartons and trays?
Some uses are obvious, like giving them to the local charity or school tuck shop that sells fresh eggs from farmers, or using some of them for kid's school projects or crafts. You could also use them to germinate seeds and I have done all of these; but the latest trick someone taught me is to tear them up into little bitty pieces (I know!) and recycle them by adding them to my pots about halfway up … sort of where you might throw in the bone meal.
They retain moisture for a lot longer and help roots in search of humidity when you are on holiday or in a forgetful mood. It works.
If you have more than a container garden, then just add the bits to the soil at will. The good thing is that they are bio-degradable and will disappear over time anyway. Of course, you should remove any price stickers or branding labels because they are not bio-degradable.
Do you like Chinese Takeaways? Kebabs? Fruit skewers for breakfast? Well you can collect the ‘chop sticks’ and use them in your containers to prop up growing plants … just until the stems get strong enough to stand alone. I first saw this used in a clever if temporary way and realised it could suit other needs too.
The lady had some Busy Lizzies (Impatiens) which had not really had enough sunlight and were getting leggy as they reached out for more light. The thing is they were still blooming and looking so very pretty and cheerful, even if they were flopping all over the pots.
Armed with some unused skewers she made a sort of a tepee around the plants, propped them up then filled in the spaces with some sphagnum moss. She then used these small containers as centre table decorations at a barbecue.