The Q&A Archives: Maintaining Annuals in Containers

Question: Every year I plant annuals--pansies, violas, lobelia, etc.--in containers and they look great for the first month or two. But by the end of July, despite daily watering and weekly feedings, they begin to wane. How can I keep my container plants looking pert and perky?

Answer: The secrets to good annuals all season are both plant selection and care. The plants you named tend to do best in cooler weather, so once the temperatures heat up they naturally begin to flag no matter whjat you do. You might try an early planting of these cool lovers and follow it with a back up planting of other more heat-tolerant plants, possibly including some of the tropicals which don't even kick into gear until the weather gets hot enough to suit them.

Good care includes not only regular watering and feeding but also deadheading so the plants send their energy into producing more blooms rather than seeds. Initial planting can also make a difference. Select plants that are healthy and have not been stressed or allowed to become rootbound, refresh the potting soil in the containers annually, and be sure to use pots large enough to accommodate the plants.

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