neighborhood garden for may 8, 2004


 Our visitor in the NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN today is Bertine Loop, a Master Gardener and Instructor in horticulture at Southeast Community College. Bertine is also co-host of “How’s it Growin” every Tuesday from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Radio Station KZUM, 89.3 FM


 1.          Consider the purpose of your use, for example, focal point, screening, color addition, camouflage, creating “rooms”, groupings, etc. Remember backgrounds, colors that brighten or recede, importance of texture.

2.          Consider combinations, such as vegetables and flowers, perennials and annuals, grasses and herbs for textural and height interest.  Place plants in natural height groupings, use stands, stage colors by season or interest.

3.          Remember the importance of sun, shade, wind.

4.          Choose soil as carefully as the plants.  Consider pre-mixed soils with slow released fertilizers that are specially made for containers. 

5.          Remember different containers “breathe” in different ways, or not at all.  Size, materials, shape all make a difference. 

6.       Group plants with similar purpose and water needs together. Use tags or other means to highlight a special need plant/container

7.          Choose containers carefully.  Container composition, color, and placement will influence watering needs. 

8.       Use “liner pots” to save wear and to change/replace easily.

9.          Always line between the outside pot and the liner pot with mulch, moss or compost.

10.          Always mulch the top of the container, 1 inch to 2 inches. Never spill over the sides as this will cause the water to wick out.

11.     Be good to your back.  Put heavy pots on rollers and fill the bottom of containers with charcoal, plastic peanuts, or light rock such as lava.

12.     Turn the containers, or rotate the plants inside the liner pots on a regular basis.

13.     Utilize Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to minimize problems,           such as disease, insect damage, etc.

14.          Containers are a good way to “capture” invasive plants and show off their best qualities, e.g. scent in mints.

15.          Drought tolerant perennials usually make great container plants.  Deadhead and cut back as usual for re-bloomers.

16.     Start with the basics, expand into your own style and sense of color,           usage and design integration.

17.          Containers have exposed sides, so they usually will need more           supervision for water and attention.  Consider adding prilled water           absorbers, such as Osmocote.

18.          Because soil area is limited, use fertilizer sticks, fertilized soils, or monitor closely for plant food every 1 to 2 weeks.

19.     Do not set containers in saucers; put large containers on “feet” that can be made of wood, clay bricks or stones to allow containers to drain properly.

20.     Space containers for open air flow, remembering the influence of           surface below, behind, and above the container.

21.     If a container planting has wilted, pull into cooler shade. Set into a bucket or tub of water over night to saturate to re-hydrate root system.  (I pour ¼ solution of root transplant solution into water.)

22.               In August, stop fertilizing, withdrawing water slowly.  Plants that                   remain in containers should get potassium fertilization.

23.               Winterization options: 

A.      Remove perennials, trees, and shrubs and plant into the garden or compost pile;       
B.          Bury plant and liner in soil, placing in sheltered site that receives water (NOT the garage or the basement).

24.     Place empty containers, upside down, on 1x2” boards without touching           the sides of the pots next to them.  Wash containers with Borax           solution before storage and planting.  Cover glazed pots with tarp,           canvas, or other protection. (Bertine Loop)

 For more information send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Lancaster County Extension Office at 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528-1507 and ask for NebGuide #G1363 (Container Gardening in Nebraska). NebGuides are also available on the internet. Go to and type in the name
of the plant, or the subject, or the number of the publication.

Next week Gladys will share about her favorite container plants.