Having potted plants is a nice way to enjoy nature on your own terms. It lets you tend a wide variety of flowers and vegetation to be grown where space is limited and allows people in cool-weather climates to grow plants all year round. I love the way they add color and interest to my otherwise boring porch. Here is the basic process you should undergo to nurture your potted plants:
Choose the right pots. Make sure each pot has one or more holes in the bottom to allow water to flow freely. If there’s not enough drainage, the roots can drown and kill the plant. Don’t think you need a special type of pot. Just about anything can be used as a container. Mix it up- use different size, styles, and kinds of containers. If you’re on a budget, don’t spring for a heavy, expensive pot—you can find plastic, resin, or fiberglass around the house.
Next, choose the mix. Don’t use soil from the yard or garden; these might have weed seeds, bugs, or fungus. Buy some soil from your local garden center, where you’ll find a loose, light mixture of materials like peat moss and decomposing organic matter. Potting mix with time-release fertilizer and moisture-retaining polymer crystals can reduce plant maintenance.
Choose the plants. What are the conditions of your space? Determine which plants can live in your available space. Take into account temperature and availability of sunlight. Pay attention to plant tags, which will give you helpful information. One kind of plant per pot should be sufficient. To create a really great look, consider using a mix of tall upright plants with mounding broad plants and trailing plants. Use plants that create high contrast and be bold with color!
Get the pots ready. If your containers are heavy, place them at their destination before filling them with soil. Put a basket-type coffee filter or a shard or broken pot over the hole to keep potting mix from spilling out. Then fill the container with soil. Put it enough potting mix so the place on the plant where the stem sprouts from the soil’s surface is about an inch from the top of the pot. Before planting, pat the soil down with your fingers to eliminate air pockets.
Lastly, place the plants. Take them out of its nursery container. Support the top of each root ball by putting a finger on each side of the stem. Carefully pour the soil around it. If you’re planting multiple plants in one container, leave at least an inch of soil between root balls. Don’t pile soil on top of the plant—spread it around the roots. There should be about an inch from the top of the soil to the rim of the container. Then water the plant.
Good work! You now have a potted plant. Stay tuned for future posts to learn how to care for your plants.
Do you need drip irrigation or garden valves in certain areas?
Drip irrigation is a very cost effective to install a system and it also happens to be a very cost effective way to water, as well. The valve, filter, and pressure regulator combination that is required for a drip zone will cost more than a control valve for a spray head or rotor zone, but the overall cost of the zone is much lower, especially if you are using emitter tubing. Drip zones require careful planning, but are well worth the effort.
Do you need a sprinkler timer that can automatically calculate the amount of water to apply?
The sprinkler timer or “controller” can be a fairly big driver of the cost of your sprinkler system, especially if a professional contractor is installing it. The latest trend is toward “smart controllers” which automatically calculate the amount of water to apply for a given geographic location at point of time in the season. Smart controllers help reduce the amount of overwatering while helping ensure survival of your landscape in the hottest months. The downside to these controllers is that they cost more, are harder to install (they require the mounting of sensors on a roof or other unobstructed location), and more difficult to program. Surveys of homeowners show that, while they like the concept of smart controllers, the complexity of operating them leads many homeowners to turn off the smart features and use them as a regular controller. Perhaps over time these controllers will become easier to use.
Do you need a rain sensor to automatically delay or shut off the system if it is raining?
The addition of a rain sensor to your system is pretty much a no-brainer. You can set these sensors to delay or shut off watering once they detect a certain amount of rainfall. This saves you from wasting water on rainy days and the annoyance of fines (in some communities) and public embarrassment as neighbors become more aware of water conservation.
In drip irrigation, tiny particles of dirt are your worst adversary.
Because they clog up your drip tubes and emitters, making them ineffective. To avoid this clogging problem, a water filter of some type is recommended.
From a broad stance, filters come in two configurations: mesh and sediment filters.
Mesh filters are made from small layers of . . . well . . . mesh. The size of the mesh openings determines what size particles will be stopped and what size will pass through.
Most drip irrigation kits generally include a mesh-type filter.
The other type of filter, the sediment filter, is most often used in whole house water filtration.
Sediment filters consist of a cartridge and housing, and the cartridge does all the filtering. Some cartridges filter out particles down to 0.5 micron and even reduce certain chemicals (e.g., chlorine, lead, etc.).
IMPORTANT TIP: You will need to change your cartridge (or clean your mesh filter) periodically.
For mesh filters, check and clean them weekly (or more often if you find your water is not clean).