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Midsummer is all about excess, right? It’s about beating sun, scorching temperatures, and thunderstorms that send your pets cowering. All those histrionics might be typical of the season we call summer, but they also take a toll on growing things. Specifically, plants in containers can feel the stress.

Containers might need a little help from their friends right now. First of all, they could use some sprucing up. A facelift might be apropos. Obviously, you should deadhead flowers that have slipped past prime. But also, step in and clip stems back to encourage branching. Granted, it might seem as though you’re shortening the show. But really, after a brief pause while the contents of your container regroup, they will redouble their efforts. You are giving the plants a new lease on life. You’re giving them the strength to perform over a longer haul, and you are saving money. Often, you can avoid a complete revamp/replanting by coaxing a container to reboot the ingredients that have already been planted.

Even with that encouragement, your container might be desperately in need of additional resources to give it the oomph to stay strong and carry on. No matter what midsummer weather brings – whether it’s long, hot days or torrential storms – your soil might be getting depleted. If the weather is steamy and dry, you’ve probably been applying the hose constantly. If conditions bring heavy storms (which has been the pattern this year in many places), the rain is pounding on your pots. Either way, nutrients are washing out of the soil. Midsummer is the perfect time to give your container an energizing snack and that’s a service Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Organic Plant Food can furnish. Just sprinkle the plant food over the top of the soil according to the directions on the label and scratch it in. Stand back and watch the additional food do its work.

A few tricks might help your containers survive through the extremes of summer. When planting containers, be sure that all the ingredient plants match the light requirements available. Plant sunlovers with fellow sun worshippers and nestle shade plants beside other plants that prefer an umbrella of tree foliage or an overhang overhead. Similarly, combine plants with similar growth habits. Don’t put in one plant that grows much more rapidly than its bedfellows; Keep them balanced. Sometimes the easiest solution is to create a mono-container profiling multiples of one ingredient. The resulting composition can look impressively sharp.

Also scope out drip lines from roof tops, etc. Run-off from roofs can be scorching and poses the very real danger damaging leaves. Move your container, if necessary. Similarly, hoses left in the sun can be filled with baking hot water that can cause damage to leaves and you. Carefully run that water out where it will do no damage.

If your container seems to be failing, make sure that it has sufficient drainage. If the drainage hole is flush with an impermeable surface like pavement or stone, lift it up using risers to let the water freely escape.

We’ve got a lot of summer left to enjoy, so make sure your containers will look their finest for the fun. If you do it right, your containers will just keep getting better all summer long. While you’re making this summer a time filled with happy memories, your shining containers will be the backdrop.


Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin.  Photos also taken by Tovah Martin.  Find her books and more information on her website: tovahmartin.com.

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