Secrets of Success for Outdoor Potted Plants

Table of Contents

Potted plants are an essential component to create an inviting and comfortable sanctuary on porches, patios, gazebos or seating/eating areas. Follow these basic steps of care to keep your container gardens beautiful and flourishing all season long.

Evaluate Light Exposure

Place the potted plant in the right location for its sunlight requirement.

  • Full Sun = 6 or more hours of direct sun daily
  • Part Sun = 3-6 hours of direct sun daily
  • Shade = Fewer than 3 hours of direct sun daily

Water Regularly

Water Pouring from a Watering Can Spout
Hanging baskets, window boxes and containers tend to dry out faster than in-the-ground plantings. Monitor potted plants on a daily or weekly basis, testing the top inch of soil with your finger to see if it’s dry and requires water. Water the plant underneath the leaves and flowers until the water runs out of the drainage holes. Never allow your container to set in standing water (dump excess water from the saucer).

Note: Some hanging baskets, especially cocoa fiber or other porous materials, may need water every day. Other containers, such as succulents in a plastic pot, may need water once a week.

Pro-Tip: Reduce Water Needs – Pot your plants in self-watering containers, which use reservoirs filled with water to provide water continuously until the reservoir is emptied. There are also moisture-retentive soils available, which enlist the power of gel to keep moisture within the soil for a longer time.

Set a Fertilizer Schedule

Plant Fertilizer in a Spoon
Check the plant label for each plant’s fertilizer recommendation, and then feed plants a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer according to the directions. Some plants, such as Calibrachoa, need weekly feeding to keep their flower display at its maximum.

Pro-Tip: Reduce Fertilizer Needs – Use potting soil with time-release fertilizer already included. Potted plants require more fertilizer than in-ground plantings because the nutrients are flushed out of the soil when watered. Consequently, soil with fertilizer included is a bare minimum and additional fertilizer is recommended.

Remove Faded Blooms (deadhead)

Many modern plant varieties are self-cleaning, which means this step may not be necessary. If the flower display is suffering or if the faded blooms are unsightly, then cut off the individual flower heads. In the case of a small-flowered plant, a third of the entire plant may be lightly sheared to encourage more flowers.

Now that you know the basics of how to keep your plants looking fabulous, find new ways to display your container plants.

Adirondack Chairs in a Garden


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