How Not to Take Care of Container Plants

How Not to Take Care of Container Plants

Part of Ep. 1901 Misteaks We Have Maid

Jan Wos addresses common mistakes many of us make in the garden – sinking a root-bound plant into a larger container without loosening the roots, improperly maintaining hanging baskets from season to season and pruning Hibiscus standards completely wrong.

Premiere date: Mar 05, 2011

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:
This is what a happy, healthy hibiscus is supposed to look like.  We are focusing today on "Misteaks We Have Maid," and we are at Mayflower Greenhouse in Hobart, Wisconsin.  I am with the owner, Jan Wos.  Jan, people think we don’t make mistakes in the garden. 

Jan Vos:
We do.  We do do that.  Nobody kills more plants than we do. 

Shelley Ryan:
I think we could have a contest.  But you know, here’s one of the mistakes I’m just as bad at anybody else at.  I see a plant in your greenhouse and I go, oh, I have to have that.  Then I get it home and realize, I don’t have a clue how to take care of this hibiscus.  So, my first mistake was not finding out what to do with it. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  That one is not too late.  You can fix it.  This looks like it was in the shade, not enough light.  Hibiscus has to have full sun. 

Shelley Ryan:
Well, it has eastern exposure. 

Jan Vos:
Not enough.  Eastern morning sun is considered a shade. 

Shelley Ryan:
For hibiscus. 

Jan Vos:
For hibiscus. 

Shelley Ryan:
So, hot afternoon sun. 

Jan Vos:
Hot afternoon sun, and a good watering, acid fertilizer, and you’ll have a hibiscus like--

Shelley Ryan:
Like yours. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, what about pruning? 

Jan Vos:
First, you don’t prune it at summertime or springtime.  You prune it now, when you take it to the house. 

Shelley Ryan:
In fall. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  The last time it was pruned, it was here.  So it would be time to do it right there. 

Shelley Ryan:
You just took my blossom off. 

Jan Vos:
Well, it should not be blooming at wintertime.  It should be resting. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, so prune in the fall, and that will promote the blooms.  It blooms from the tip. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  If you prune it at springtime, you’ll be waiting for flowers at least two more months. 

Shelley Ryan:
So, me pruning it to try to get blooms inside here was wrong. 

Jan Vos:
Yes, sorry! 

Shelley Ryan:
Another common mistake we have, and you’ve got a plant behind you that I think illustrates it perfectly. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly. 

Shelley Ryan:
I see this all the time, and I just get a chuckle out of it. 

Jan Vos:
When you plant at springtime, and you buy those petunias, pansies, they have the same root system. 

Shelley Ryan:
They’re called root-bound. 

Jan Vos:
You pull them out in the fall, and still the same.  Just like here.  Look, this was planted two months ago. 

Shelley Ryan:
It’s still growing in the same shape. 

Jan Vos:
Nothing happened.  It’s not good for the plants. 

Shelley Ryan:
Obviously, it’s not growing into the soil. 
Jan Vos:
What you do sounds very cruel, but this is what you do.  You’re not hurting the plant, even if it sounds or looks like it.  Just remove it.  This is unnecessary.  Look at this.  You don’t need it. 

Shelley Ryan:
If you don’t do that, look what it’s doing.  It’s growing in a circle.  You have to force it out of that. 

Jan Vos:
You can also do like this, or just go this way.  It’s very important, especially now, if you’re planting perennials.  It’s kind of late, and you want to them to root before winter. 

Shelley Ryan:
Whenever you’re planting these, if you don’t do this, they’re going to continue to grow in a circle. 

Jan Vos:
Mm-hmm. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, well let’s talk about some of the other mistakes gardeners make. 

Jan Vos:
You bring beautiful basket of springtime. 

Shelley Ryan:
I shouldn’t have to do anything else with it, right? 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  Wrong!  If you do not maintain your plants, look, under those. 

Shelley Ryan:
Oh, look, there’s another plant. 

Jan Vos:
There’s another plant quite hidden, so they could not live.  They did not have any light.  So, what you do is just basically, right now, I probably wouldn’t, but springtime, summertime, keep maintaining this, so you have a really nice blooming plant. 

Shelley Ryan:
That’s something you do throughout the growing season. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  This is another sample right here.  A smaller version.  It’s starting.  If you let it go, this plant will overtake everything. 

Shelley Ryan:
You’ll have the same problem. 

Jan Vos:
What you need to do is just, right now--

Shelley Ryan:
Cut it down. 
Jan Vos:
A different proportion right away.  Same with the chards.  Just pinch them and use them as a saute with your dinner. 

Shelley Ryan:
There you go.  As long as you make sure it’s edible.  Here you’ve got some dead flowers in here.  Pinch these off, too? 

Jan Vos:
Pinch them off, so this way, the new flower buds will open and bloom. 

Shelley Ryan:
That leads to another common mistake.  As gardeners, a lot of us tend to buy the one that’s in full bloom, because it’s pretty. 

Jan Vos:
If the party is tomorrow and you’re buying today, yes, it’s a good idea.  Otherwise, no. 

Shelley Ryan:
For long-term. 

Jan Vos:
Buy this stage. 

Shelley Ryan:
Because full bud means all of these are still to open up. 

Jan Vos:
Yes. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, a common mistake. 

Jan Vos:
This is another mistake, under watering.  This pot was on a drainage system, irrigation system.  This little nozzle was supposed to water a whole pot.  Wrong. 

Shelley Ryan:
Too small for the system. 

Jan Vos:
Too small for the pot.  What you do, is you need to water with the hose once in a while and you’ll be fine. 

Shelley Ryan:
So make sure the system you’ve got is big enough for the pot you’re watering. 
Jan Vos:
Or better yet, just do not rely on it.  Don’t use the system.  Under watering is not as bad as over watering. 

Shelley Ryan:
Which is this. 

Jan Vos:
Which is this case.  You can tell how wet this was. 

Shelley Ryan:
Mold. 

Jan Vos:
I see mold. 

Shelley Ryan:
We’ve got moss. 

Jan Vos:
Exactly.  And if you pull this plant out, you do not see any roots. 

Shelley Ryan:
Where’d they go? 

Jan Vos:
They rotted. 

Shelley Ryan:
Is this fixable? 

Jan Vos:
Most of the time, it’s not.  Fortunately, this fuschia has started to get better. 

Shelley Ryan:
Rule of thumb for watering? 

Jan Vos:
Stick your finger in.  If it’s dry, water it.  Lift the pot.  If it’s dry, water it.  But water it, soak it really well.  Always remember, directly to the soil. 

Shelley Ryan:
Not on the top. 

Jan Vos:
Not on top, and water it in the morning. 
Shelley Ryan:
No impulse buying.  But if you are going to impulse buy, take the instructions home, or ask somebody at the greenhouse. 

Jan Vos:
Or call us, and we’d be more than happy to give you directions. 

Shelley Ryan:
Okay, thanks, Jan. 

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