Not everyone has a green thumb when it comes to growing plants in garden pots. It is a shame to see what would otherwise be a beautiful plant struggling for life in a pot. If you find your pot plants are looking a bit sick, here are some tips to help them get better.

  • Make sure you use quality potting mix. Follow the instructions on the bag. Often you will find that the mix should be left to settle, but you have that plant and are anxious to get the job done so you don’t want to wait. But in a week or two the mix will settle and leave the roots half exposed, or the whole lot will sink down into the pot so you have half the pot showing at the top and the roots have less room than they need.

  • Keep out the ants. This is easier said than done, but if you use ant sand every time you see these annoying creatures around your pot plants they will be better off. Ants in the pot plant make tunnels, uncovering the roots so they don’t get all the nutrients and water they need.
  • Water frequently. Pot plants can dry out quickly, especially if they are out in the sun. Water them well but don’t flood them as this will wash out all the fertiliser. Adding water crystals will help keep the moisture up to the plant.
  • Fertilise them but don’t overdo it. The pot is a small area; too much fertiliser can burn the roots. The wrong kind of fertiliser is also bad. Spraying with liquid fertiliser is a great way to keep plants happy and healthy.
  • Snails and slugs are cunning critters that will hide under the rim of the pot, if it has one. They can get under the pot or under the saucer, then come out at night and feast on your plant. They love being under rocks or anything else that can give them shelter. Keep up the snail bait, but put it under the pots so your kids and pets don’t get it.
  • Not all plants grow successfully in pots. Choose those with smallish roots, not plants that will grow big and heavy. In general, smaller pots are more suited to annuals like petunias or pansies. Use larger pots for perennials and shrubs.
  • Keeping the roots cool. For outside, light coloured pots will help to keep the roots cool as light colours reflect heat. Mulch such as grass clippings on top is also good. Grouping pots together will help to shade some of them.
  • Not all plants grow well on a deck or balcony if it is too shady. Some kinds of pests like the shade and will attack them, so watch the leaves for brown or white spots or fuzzy insects underneath the leaves. Spray them with the appropriate insect or disease killer.