Cheery Winter Containers

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Holland flower bulbs are now available for fall planting. These lovely gems will bloom for you next spring.
    • Plant cover crops in the garden where summer plants have finished. Fava beans and crimson clover will grow through the winter and improve your soil for spring planting.
    • Wildflower seed broadcasted with the first rains will take root over the winter and burst into flower next spring.
    • Divide artichoke plants which have been in the ground for three or four years. Mulch established plants with steer manure.
    • Choose shade trees for fall color now and plant them while the soil is still warm.

Cheery Winter Containers

When the days of autumn turn cool and crisp and the leaves begin to show their colors, it is time to replant your containers and flower beds for color and interest in the months ahead.

Planting winter containers garden is possible by using plants that are cold hardy and tolerant of temperatures that can get below freezing.

Pansies and violas love the cold. They bloom continuously through the winter months and even have been seen blooming underneath the snow.

Ornamental kale and cabbage have beautiful purple leaves which intensify with the frost. They make colorful arrangements with their bold, round heads.

Primroses have bright-colored flowers that just keep on coming. In bright red, blue, yellow and pink they are very showy in containers.

Ranunculus and anemone bulbs can be tucked into containers for spring bloom. They come in a wide variety of colors.

Speaking of bulbs, combining bulbs with winter annuals is a great way to get two seasons of bloom out of one planting. Since bulbs are buried deep, plant them first, then plant flowers between the bulbs so they aren’t right on top of them.

The flowers will start growing and fill in by the time the green sprouts of the bulbs begin to show. Then in March, April or May, when the bulbs come into bloom, you will enjoy the beautiful combinations that you have created. After the bulbs have finished blooming, the flowers will hide the foliage of the maturing bulbs.

For pinks and purples, combine lavender pansies with pink and white tulips. Or plant purple and pink tulips in a bed of fragrant, flowering stock, which bloom in pink, white and lavender.

Blue and yellow are always a nice combination. Plant yellow daffodils with dark blue pansies or the lovely ‘Morpho Blue’ pansies, which are pastel blue with yellow markings.

Crocuses bloom early and will look cute coming up through a bed of Johnny-jump-ups. Use your imagination to make other attractive combinations.

It is best to plant your containers in the early fall when the sun will still warm the pots in the daytime. You should place containers in as much sun as possible for the most flowers.

If we have a dry spell, be sure to water the containers, especially if very cold weather is expected. Make sure your containers have drain holes in them and use fresh potting soil for best results.

Let the happy faces of cool-season flowers and bulbs brighten your containers through the winter months.

Container Orchard

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by Jenny Watts
    • Chrysanthemums come in bright fall colors to give you instant color in flower beds and containers.
    • Sow these vegetable seeds directly in the soil: carrots, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radish, spinach and root vegetables. Keep the surface of the soil moist until the seedlings are established.
    • Rough black spots of apples and their leaves are due to the ‘scab’ fungus. Nothing can be done now, but remember to spray trees next spring with lime sulfur just before the blossoms open.
    • Rose of Sharon, with its hibiscus-like flowers, is a lovely summer bloomer in our climate. The tree form makes a small tree for full sun or part shade.
    • Peruvian lilies, or alstromeria, make wonderful cut flowers. Set out plants now for armloads of flowers next year.

Grow a container fruit orchard

There are various reasons for wanting to grow fruit trees in containers. For some folks, the only place protected from deer is on the deck. Others may enjoy watching a fruit tree up close on the patio, or want to grow a citrus tree that needs winter protection. Whatever your reason, there are dwarf fruit trees that can be grown in containers even in the most limited spaces.

The types of fruit trees that can be grown in containers are apples on M-27 rootstock or genetic dwarf apples; genetic dwarf peaches and nectarines; all figs; cherries on Zaiger dwarf rootstock; and dwarf citrus.

First you will need to choose containers for your little orchard. Though many types of wood or ceramic containers can be used, a heavy plastic, like the terra cotta-colored plastic pots, are easiest to work with for repotting. Most trees, either bare root or canned, can be planted into a 16 inch pot. After one full growing season, repot in early spring into a 20-inch pot, and the next spring into a 24-inch pot, its final destination. Use any good bagged potting soil that drains well.

Watering and fertilizing are the most important maintenance tasks. Plants should never be allowed to wilt, but don’t overwater them. Fruit trees generally need water about twice a week, but they will need more if they become root-bound.

Fertilize apples, figs and citrus once a month during the growing season using an organic fertilizer or a 5-10-10 fertilizer. You don’t need a lot of nitrogen, since you don’t want fast growth in a container tree. Peaches, nectarines and cherries should be fed twice a month.

After three to five years, growth may slow down, or trees may need constant watering. These trees will need root pruning in late winter. Lay the container on its side and roll it to loosen the root ball. Pull the tree out of the pot. With a shovel, slice two inches off the sides of the rootball all the way around. Place the tree back into the pot, add fresh potting soil, and tamp it down firmly. Water thoroughly.

Fig trees and citrus are not as hardy as other fruits. In the winter, move them to a protected area where they will not freeze during cold weather. Citrus can live in the house by a south window during the coldest weather.

Fig trees can be sheltered in the garage. Move them after they drop their leaves and go dormant. They will not need any light or much water while in dormancy. Water sparingly once every three of four weeks during winter storage. If you must leave them outdoors, spray with Cloud Cover™ in early November to protect them from drying out in freezing weather.

Enjoy delicious home-grown fruits fresh from your patio!

Cheery Winter Containers

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007 by Jenny Watts

Cheery Winter Containers

When the days of autumn turn cool and crisp and the leaves begin to show their colors, it is time to replant your containers and flower beds for color and interest in the months ahead.

Planting winter containers garden is possible by using plants that are cold hardy and tolerant of temperatures that can get below freezing.

Read the rest of this entry »