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Pansy pots and spring-gardening tips with Heidi Heiland

6:20 AM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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Colorful pansy pots can be created right now to grace an entrance or make you feel good when you look at them! Take advantage of the plethora of blooming plants that thrive in these cooler spring temperatures.

Here's what you need:

  • Containers with good drainage
  • Good potting soil
  • Fertilizer and soil-moistening agent
  • Three categories of plant materials: Stems and twigs, cool-weather tolerant blooming plants and trailing green plants
  • Coffee filters
  • Water

Containers

Choose a container made of a material with good drainage. Either use your favorite front entrance containers or consider creating planters just for pansies and move them to a shady border area later in the season.

Potting Soil Mixtures and Preparing the Container

Good soil is critically important to the success of your planting. Premium potting soil mixes work best. Potting soils can be re-used for at least two years. Move the top layer of expired soils to the compost pile, and mix in some fresh potting soil.

A great multipurpose fertilizer like Osmocote can be worked into the soil. Add a soil-moistening agent like Soil Moist, which helps to keep the soils evenly moistened.

To prepare the container, use a coffee filter at the bottom to help prevent soil from leaking out of the drainage hole. Fluff up old soils, and push it down to settle. Level the soil to allow two inches from the top of the container.

Plants

Using a "Thriller, Filler and Spiller" approach to the design, choose from these plant materials:

For the "Thriller" materials, bringing height to the center of the pot, choose stems like yellow twig dogwood, any of the many types of willow stems, or even bamboo stems for a more contemporary feel. They look great, and can be re-used for summer container designs. Some willows can take root and be re-planted in the garden.

For the "Filler" plants, consider a 'mix and match' approach, choosing from Nemesias, Ranunculus, Alyssum, Poppies, Lettuce, Spinach, or Primrose. Infusing edibles in the container is practical, fun and makes the design more unique. Other traditional blooming favorites include Daffodils, Hyacinth, Tulips, Cyclamen, Hydrangea, Osteospermum, Pansy, Viola, Icelandic Poppy, Schizanthus, and Snapdragons. Many of these plants can be re-planted in garden areas where morning sun is abundant.

For the "Spillers," consider Callibrachoa, Fiber Optic Grass, Ivy, Lobelia, Springeri Fern, and Vinca Vine. Many times these spillers can be left for the rest of the season, when there is care when removing the expired plants.

Water the newly created container and fertilize. BioPlex Transplant Concentrate is a great option. Throughout the season, use a fertilizer like BioPlex 12-4-6, or an organic fertilizer.

Enjoy your spring containers and don't worry about bringing them inside unless the temps drop below 20 degrees!

Spring Gardening Tips: Soil Preparation for Garden Beds

Sustainable soil management pays off for a healthy landscape. Maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients, living organisms and minerals in the soil help to provide stability for plants to thrive. Soil preparation techniques, and making the appropriate soil amendments when needed, are the best investments to make in a landscape.

Soils are made of four components: Air, water, minerals & organic matter. Soil textures range from Course (Sand, or Loamy Sand), to Fine (Silty Clay Loam, or Clay). Soil structure refers to the aggregation of sand, silt and clay into larger clusters.

Good soil has these characteristics:

  • Drains well & warms up quickly in the spring
  • Will not crust after planting
  • Soaks up heavy rains with little run-off
  • Stores moisture for drought periods
  • Has few clods and hardened areas
  • Resists erosion and nutrient loss
  • Supports high populations of soil organisms
  • Has a rich, earthy smell
  • Produces healthy plants
Here's how to prepare garden beds for planting:

  • Turn soils over with a pitchfork as opposed to a roto-tiller, to protect soil structures.
  • Add a slow-release, organic fertilizer, such as Milorganite, to safely increase the nitrogen content. Miloganite will not burn, and also acts as a deer control agent.
  • If there is concern about stirring up weed seeds, add a weed preventer such as Preen. Otherwise plan to pull emerging weeds by hand.
  • Level and fluff the soils with a good garden rake.
Written by Diana Pierce

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