Container Gardening 101

container gardening

Successful container gardening is easy with these basics:

Remember that when you are planting a container you are dealing with a different environment than you are when you plant directly into your garden.

Fall Planting Container Gardening

You have to treat the container as a micro-environment, not as part of the entire garden. 

Here’s what you need to do:

 

 

  1. Choose the right container for the plants and visa versa
  2. Make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom so that it doesn’t become water logged
  3. Add some drainage medium – small gravel or stones works well – in the bottom of the container
  4. Use potting mix as your planting medium, not just soil you dug up from your garden
  5. Soak the plants you’re going to plant in the container in a bucket of water – push the pot into the water until all the air bubbles escape.  Leave the plant to soak while you prepare the container.
  6. Remove the plants you’re going to put in the container from the pots in which they were sold – use your fingers or a small garden fork to tease the roots apart.  Many of these plant have become somewhat root bound and will grow better if you ‘unbind’ the roots so they can reach out for water.
  7. Add bone meal and fertilizer. Ask your garden center which will work best with your chosen plants.
  8. Wet the soil mix  in the container and then plant the plants in the grouping you want.  Ask your garden center for advice about container companion planting to ensure your plants are compatible and that they’ll produce a nice show of flowers and foliage throughout the season.
  9. Be sure to get the soil off the leaves and stems of the plants.  Cover the roots. with soil
  10. Water the planted container thoroughly but not so much that the water runs out the bottom as this will wash out all the nutrients.
  11. Water the container at least twice a day, especially as the weather warms.  Remember that container soil will warm up and dry out quicker than garden soil as it’s exposed on the sides to the sun and the heat.
  12. When blooms fade, if the plant requires deadheading do this to prolong the blooming seasonContainer Gardening

How to attract butterflies to your garden:

attract butterflies gardening tips

Butterflies, like birds, are attracted to colourful plants that produce the food they eat at various stages of their lives.

attract butterfliesTo attract butterflies into your garden, you need to support these little critters at every stage of their life cycle. It’s a very worthy goal. Not only will you have the pleasure of watching them flutter around your garden, you’ll also be providing a valuable service. Creating a habitat for butterflies means encouraging some of the most effective pollinators.

At the recent 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show, the ‘Butterflies Live’ exhibition made guests aware that butterfly populations have decreased by 90% over the past few years. Because butterflies are important pollinators, like bees, this can seriously impact the production of fruit and vegetables.

What plants will attract butterflies?

The answer will vary depending on the stage of the butterfly lifecycle. As butterflies hatch from eggs, you will need plants on which the tiny caterpillars can feed. The trouble is that they have voracious appetites and can strip plants of their leaves!

During this stage, the caterpillar will undergo several skin moults. Eventually the final stage before becoming a butterfly is the chrysalis stage, when the caterpillar becomes a pupa hidden under the protective walls of an outer shell or chrysalis.

While hiding away, the caterpillar is undergoing a metamorphasis where they develop their wings and their body structure changes to the body of a butterfly. Once the butterfly is fully formed, it then breaks out of the chrysalis and the wings slowly unfurl and dry out until it is ready to take flight.

attract butterfliesOnce the butterfly begins to fly it goes in search of food. Only this time, it’s not leaves it needs. Butterflies feed on nectar of flowers, which is how they pick up the pollen and transport it to other plants which become pollinated.

The best way to attract butterflies is to use a combination of colour and nectar producing plants. As flowers produce nectar and flowers are usually colorful, this means planting lots of flowering plants.

Here’s a list of some of the plants which attract butterflies like magnets:

– asters
– sedum
– black eyed Susans
– azaleas
– butterfly bush
– bee balm
– impatiens
– marigolds
– verbena
– most fruit bearing flowers
– golden rod
– roses
– cone flower
– phlox
– viburnum

plus many more. Come in and chat with our horticulturalists who can advise you as to what will work best in your garden.

fall color mumsLike many little creatures, butterflies prefer warm, but not too hot, weather. They don’t like being rained on and need to take shelter to avoid their wings becoming waterlogged.

In your garden, create spaces by grouping plants, including shrubs, so that there is shelter when it rains or gets too hot and there is a place for the butterflies to rest overnight under leaves. Provide a nice flat rock that can warm up in the sun, allowing butterflies to sit resting with wings outstretched when the sun shines in early spring.

You can even create a pretty butterfly house in your garden where they can spend the winter in hibernation. Yes, butterflies hibernate! They do so at all stages of the life cycle, although they will more than likely choose a hibernation spot somewhere amongst the shrubs, in a log pile, or in any number of sheltered spots in your garden. Still, the butterfly house is a nice accessory in the landscape and if it is surrounded and sheltered by the plants they love, they may surprise you by adopting it!