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Welcome to my blog. I talk about gardening, and my friends and family are happy I have another outlet.

A Container Gone Wrong: Don't Let This Happen to You!

A Container Gone Wrong: Don't Let This Happen to You!

I love potting up containers, and I love using plants that normally don’t go in pots. Many perennials and shrubs are perfect for containers because plants do not have to ‘bloom all summer’ to add to the composition. Containers should have color and texture all season, but green is a color too! Any plant with interesting leaves can work in a container (Siberian iris add a great vertical element, and there are tons of interesting conifers), and some are relatively discrete when they aren’t blooming ( aster ''purple dome), while others have chartreuse, variegated, or dark foliage that adds color and texture. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is my favorite standby, and hosta are great as long as the leaves don’t burn.

I have put in nine container gardens near our train station, and they all have shrubs. In one container I put in a hardy hibiscus (‘Disco Belle’ that I grew from seed), and it was doing very well and had about a dozen flower buds on it. I was so excited to see their huge pink faces in its container, but I didn’t water it enough and I really regret it.

The hardy hibiscus after I watered it. The leaves revived, but it lost its flower buds. You can see the canna that I decided to plant there.

The hardy hibiscus after I watered it. The leaves revived, but it lost its flower buds. You can see the canna that I decided to plant there.

A branch tip after the buds fell off. If you look closely, you can see where they were.

Watering the containers involves lugging a heavy hose over 100 feet, and it was hot! After a few days of negligent drought, most of the plants forgave me, but not the hibiscus. The leaves revived nicely, but every flower bud died: they fell of the second I touched them.

Now, the leaves are pretty nice, but they aren’t nice enough to be the centerpiece of a container, so I had to do something. The plant was big and healthy so I wanted to save it and put something else there. I wanted to remove it without disturbing the other plants, but I soon realized that the only way I was going to get it our was to remove ALL the plants in the container, which would mean I would probably have to replace them all of them. I really didn’t want spend so much time and money, so I decided to cut most of it down to the soil and cram some tall plants around it. The plant I chose was a dark variegated canna that I already had (‘Tropicana’).

I forgot to take the “after” picture.

I cut down all of the shrub except a single stem. I could have cut it all back, but I wanted to leave a stem to continue to feed the roots.

I cut down all of the shrub except a single stem. I could have cut it all back, but I wanted to leave a stem to continue to feed the roots.

The hibiscus will be fine, and I will find a better home for it this fall or next spring. I think the container looks pretty good, but I am sorry I stressed the plant and that it decided to punish me by withholding its bloom.

Moral of the story: WATER YOUR CONTAINERS!




I Love Gardening More than I Hate the Heat. Five Ways to Survive Late Summer Heat

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