Monty Don's essential care tips for summer containers are just what you need if you're looking to add color, scent and interest to a porch, patio or garden in the warmer months. Even if your only outside space is a balcony or the smallest of yards, containers allow you to enjoy a fabulous display of blooms and even to grow fruit and veggies.
But if your container gardening ideas are to deliver the best summer show they can, they need some help as broadcaster, author and gardening expert Monty Don has reminded us.
If you like the idea of year-round scent and color, whatever the dimensions of your plot, then Monty’s unmissable advice on how maximize the loveliness of your containers this summer is a great place to start.
Monty Don’s essential care tips for summer containers
Monty gave his advice on the care summer containers need on his website, and we’re sharing his top tips along with some of our own.
The reason containers needs extra help as we progress through the summer months is that most plants grown in them exhaust the nutrients from the compost you planted them in, Monty explains.
When they’re grown in beds and garden borders, the plant’s roots can spread to find the nutrients they need, but the roots of container plants are confined to the pot. The solution to the problem? Get feeding them in the middle of summer (typically in July) and then regularly for the rest of the summer, Monty advises.
1. Add feed to your summer containers
The first of Monty's care tips for summer containers is that to promote root and flower formation without overly lush foliage, feed should be weekly and high in potash.
Monty’s top options are liquid seaweed or a proprietary liquid tomato feed. Seaweed is a favorite of those who favor organic gardening, so you might want to follow in Monty’s footsteps by using this if you like the idea of avoiding synthetic products in your plot.
2. Don't overfeed summer containers
The key to success is providing the right amount of feed, Monty says. Unfortunately too many nutrients can be as bad as too few. A surfeit does deliver quick and lush growth, but that’s frequently at the expense of flowers and fruit, he says, and the result can be extra fungal and predator problems.
Swerve the instinct to make the feed stronger than the pack instructions, Monty advises, and err on the side of reducing its strength if you’re in doubt.
3. Watering your summer containers
Of course, it’s vital to be attentive to the task of watering plants as well as to keeping them in nutrients. Check them daily when it’s warm and twice a day when it’s hot, but don’t forget that you should do the same thing in windy weather. Be mindful that even if there has been rain, you should check how the soil feels below its surface.
On the other hand, overwatering can also be a problem. Your goal should be to keep the compost of container plants moist.
If you're going on holiday, we've got plenty of tips on watering plants while away on vacation to ensure your flowers are still in bloom when you return.
4. Be aware of pests
You’ll have noted that Monty talks about extra fungal and predator problems if you overfeed container plants. In other words, they can suffer from these issues even if you are getting feeding right.
It’s worth checking container plants regularly for evidence of the actions of pests and disease. You can pick some pests off plants by hand, but you may need to use a product designed for the job. Our guides on how to get rid of aphids and how to get rid of slugs have plenty of expert tips on protecting your plants from these pests too.
Make sure you always move container plants that develop problems away from the other containers to stop spread, too.
Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens and loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper.
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