Caring for Container Plants in Hot Weather

Midsummer can be a challenging time to care for container plants. Hot weather makes watering a daily chore – forget it just once, and it's curtains. And all of this watering only increases the leaching of nutrients out of the potting soil. With this in mind, we've put together some tips for simplifying your summer container plant care routine:

Pot up. Transplanting into larger containers will increase rooting space and provide a larger reservoir for moisture. Use a quality potting mix, and consider adding water-holding crystals to the soil mix.

Group containers. Groupings not only look better, but also allow the pots to shade each other, decreasing the amount of sun that hits their sides, thus reducing evaporation and unnecessary water loss.

Move pots to cooler locations. Place containers where they receive some shade during the hottest part of the day. This usually won't reduce their performance, but it will cool the plants and reduce water needs. Moving containers off or away from hot pavement will also help.

Place liners or catch trays underneath. Doing this will allow excess water to be absorbed back into the pot through the drainage holes. Just make sure the water doesn't stand too long. Overly-wet soil could promote root disease.

Water effectively. When you water, make the most of your efforts by taking care to ensure the root ball is thoroughly wet. That may take several passes with the hose.

Install drip irrigation. Nurseries and garden centers sell drip kits specifically designed for containers. Connect the system to an automatic controller, and you can even water while you're on vacation.

Fertilize regularly. Replace lost soil nutrients with regular applications of a complete fertilizer.

Protect from insects. Control insects with a product labeled for use on houseplants, following label instructions.