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Coastal Gardening

Beat the heat with container plants

By Bob Hearle

We certainly have had our share of hot weather accompanied by tropical rain. This is a hard time for your plants and even for you. Working in the garden is very difficult, but remember you can go indoors to avoid the heat and downpours. Your plants cannot.

Continue to watch for mold and black spot. Use the appropriate fungicide. Also be aware of aphids, mealy bugs and white fly. These are excellent growing conditions for them. Continue to dead head your marigolds, daisies and similar summer bloomers as they will reward you with new growth and flowers.

This is a good time to speak about an alternative form of gardening, and that is container gardening.

Almost any plant in your existing garden could be grown in a container. They offer the advantage of being portable and if appropriate brought indoors rather easily. Choosing the right container is part art and part science. A container should be equipped with a drainage hole. If there is none, don’t buy it, unless you intend to add one.

There are plastic, glazed pottery and terra-cotta pots. The plastic retain water the longest, followed by the glazed ceramic and least by the terra-cotta. The quicker the water is lost the faster it must be replaced. Use a high quality potting mixture with included slow release fertilizer. Some even have moisture retaining materials. Placing some small stones over the drainage hole will help prevent over-watering and root rot.

Plant as you would in your outside garden. If your plant is receiving too much sun, the leaves will turn up along the margins, move it into the shade. Likewise if it needs more sun then move it accordingly. This is not as easily done with traditional plantings.

A small potted plant in an attractive container makes a wonderful gift, especially someone who can’t easily get outside in the bigger garden.

If you are going to give potted indoor plants consider these: Areca palm, mother-in-law tongue (snake plant) and money tree.

These plants are known to increase the oxygen levels and “clean the air.” Just be sure to clean their leaves weekly. For maximum results, you would need one money plant for each person, four snake plants per person and six palms.

Once you choose the right material and size, the rest is easy. Pick one with colors you like or a design you find attractive. Even regular terra-cotta is attractive and can be painted to suit your desires, just use the correct paint for outside and the material. If your terra-cotta pot cracks you can patch it with a liquid rubber material and then paint over it to match.

Send me an e-mail with your comments and questions.

Bob Hearle is a certified master gardener who lives and gardens at Pawleys Island.

Previous columns

  • No time to rest on your laurels
  • Bug with a taste for kudzu
  • It’s time to prune
  • A start on the new gardening year
  • Preparing for the holidays
  • Fall garden chores
  • The second season
  • Higher ed center classes
  • Plants that bring the tropics home
  • Chores for the doldrums
  • On the edge of summer
  • Plant hardiness and Zone 8B
  • Green ideas
  • Getting plants ready for spring
  • Reading your soil test
  • Prune plants for health and to promote growth
  • Seed propagation
  • Introduction / Soil tests

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