The nighttime temperatures have gotten steadily colder the past week, and Thursday morning I stepped out on the porch to discover that the death-knell had been sounded. The containers I had planted with Lava Rose and Lava Green coleus, Fiesta Ole double impatiens, a fern, and petunias that looked so good all summer and into the fall had finally been frozen. The photo is a close-up of the cascading plants in happier days.
I started container gardening in the past two or three years, but my containers always seemed to dry up before I got around to watering. A hint from Terry Yockey at Northerngardening.com fixed my problem. Along with the soilless mix in containers, Terry adds a water-retention agent. The one I used is called Soil Moist and I picked it up at a local hardware store. The granules are little polymer sponges. You soak them in water before you add them to the planting mix, and they release liquid gradually, keeping roots moist even if the weather is dry or you are out of town. The crystals are non-toxic and safe in horticultural applications. Not surprisingly, the manufacturer recommends you keep them away from children and don’t put them down the drain!