Container gardening is a popular and easy way to add color to your home, yard and garden. Containers come in all shapes and sizes and can be planted with just about any type of plant. One thing is certain though – containers need a little extra special care to look their best all summer long.

Here are few basic tips to keep your containers in tip-top shape this summer.

Most garden plants require about one inch of rainfall per week. Container plants generally have a smaller volume of soil that holds water compared to those planted in the garden. Container soils often dry out quickly and need more frequent watering than landscape or garden beds. Check containers daily to determine watering needs.

One way to help keep container soil moist is to add a layer of mulch on the soil surface. Just as mulch helps keep moisture in a garden bed, it too will keep container soils from drying out too quickly. Another tip is to place a saucer or reservoir underneath each container to hold extra water that might leach out the bottom of the container.

However, be careful that container soils do not stay saturated with water (soggy to the touch) for several days at a time. This can lead to root death and problems with disease.

Because containers are watered frequently, nutrients leach out of the soil and need to be replenished by providing fertilizer. This can be accomplished by using water soluble or slow-release fertilizers.

Water soluble fertilizers are liquid fertilizers that are diluted with water at the time of watering. Slow release fertilizers are made by encapsulating fertilizer in a resin coating. These are either placed on the soil surface or mixed in with the potting soil. When the soil is watered, small amounts of fertilizer are released. This is a low-maintenance way to provide nutrients to your plants throughout the summer.

Container plants may also need some TLC through pinching or deadheading. If plants become too leggy, they can be pinched back by removing the top growth. This promotes a shorter plant with a bushier habit. Spent blooms may also need to be removed through deadheading to encourage plants to continue to flower.

Hopefully these simple tips will help keep your containers looking their best this summer. For additional information contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.