Monday, April 21, 2008

Hardy Annual Gardening Pots

Come May every year, I somehow get sucked into buying big and beautiful overflowing pots of annuals. Geraniums, petunias...anything that hangs will attract my eye. They run about $30 a piece sometimes higher for a well-developed pot. And I usually buy at least 2 of them.

I hang them anywhere I can see them easily from windows, stepping out my door or whatever. And they do well at first because I try to water them regularly. But when July hits, they are needing water at least once daily and they start looking bedraggled because inevitably I forget a day here, a day there (vacations are the worst!) Then, I spend the rest of the summer trying to revive them and by August, they're in the trash. Every year it's this same routine.

This year I decided to circumvent the entire fiasco and do my own. I have this polymer stuff that absorbs water and you put it in your pot, then it releases the water over time. It cuts down the frequency of waterings by up to 75%, and has worked well in all other pots I've used it in. So, in case you're as enamored as I am with the beautiful hanging pots, but also hate having to water them and then throw them away...here's your plan.

Go out and buy some good hanging pot plants - your favorites, the ones that you always buy already planted in pots. Get a nice big pot that will hang. Then, get yourself some polymer (here's a source - I haven't verified it but you can get them here: Aquadiamonds. I got mine at the Home & Garden Show but I'll bet you can buy them at any old nursery. (all pics can be clicked on to enlarge) If you're doing about a 4 gallon pot, measure out 1 tbsp of crystals into a large bowl and put 1 gallon of water into it and wait 2 hours. This is what it'll look like: Then, you'll want to either stop up any holes in your pot or line them with plastic. The key here is no drainage. You want all of that water available for your plants only. There's no way they'll get too wet. It evaporates too quickly. Put about 3 gallons of soil into the lined pot.
Now, put about 1 gallon of reconstituted crystals into the pot with the soil.

And mix in well. Now, you can plant all of your flower plants. Mine are young but have plenty of time to grow and will fill in nicely by even next month at the same time I normally buy the big pots. All of this cost me around $35 except I don't remember how much the crystals were. But they last forever. They come in packets of about 4 cups. I've had them for about 4 years and they're not even used half up.

7 backward glances:

Gypsy at Heart said...

You know, this is pretty brilliant Amy, not to mention that you are conserving water and who doesn't want to do that? Glad I popped in today to find this post. With the Texas heat beginning to make itself felt, all my poor little outdoor plants are starting to look sad. I'll go buy this product tomorrow. Thanks for the tip. I haven't asked for the longest time by the way but how are the fish?

Amy said...

Hey Milena! thanks for stopping! I've missed your posts - you must be taking a break. Thanks for asking about the fish; they're doing great. They're all getting bigger and I'm feeling happy that they were able to be saved. When you buy that polymer, the directions are different for adding it to pots. You have to poke holes down in it and pour it in, then water it heavily and set the pot in something that the water can be soaked in to saturate the crystals. good luck!

kelly said...

This stuff really does work.
But I have to know....
are you using kitchen spoons for planting and stirring dirt? I'm buying you a shovel for mother's day.

Amy said...

kelly: thanks for the endorsement. people, you should know kelly's a reliable source for gardening know-how. and yes, I'm using a kitchen-spoon. I have a few trowels but none of them are small enough for small work and since I was in my kitchen doing this (I don't usually but it was cold outside), I didn't want to make a huge mess with a big trowel. a spoon seemed more like the right tool for the job. but thanks for caring about my flatware :)

Mo said...

The big thing to remember: reconstitute your crystals BEFORE adding them to the soil!
Personally, I would still add some pin-holes for drainage, just to get some air to the roots, but that's just me.
If you use this method on non-hanging planters, you definitely want drainage!

Here via Entrecard!

Janel said...

GREAT IDEA! I will have to look for that stuff. Thanks!

Amy said...

Mo: true. I've done it the other way and it worked but it's much better to do it before. sounds like you've been down this road before!

Janel: good luck!

thanks to you both for dropping by!