Hot-Weather Care for Containers
Summer heat can be tough on potted plants—and vacation absences don’t help. Here’s how to keep container gardens from wilting during a dry spell
MAKE SOIL WATER-SMART: Fluffy potting mix can’t hold moisture for long stretches. Add hydro-gel polymer crystals that swell with water, then slowly release moisture back to the roots. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons into a 1-gallon pot of soil, add plants, then water thoroughly. For existing planters, poke holes into the soil with a pencil, add crystals, cover, and then water.
Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals, $8.68 for a 12-oz. bag; The Home Depot
RETHINK WINDOW BOXES: They’re charming but often not so accessible, thus subject to infrequent watering. Upgrade to a self-watering window box, with a reservoir that allows soil to wick up moisture as needed. A fill tube makes adding water easy; an indicator tells you when you’re running low.
23-inch Self-Watering Windowbox, $30; Gardener’s Supply Co.
ADD IRRIGATION: A drip system designed for containers (about $12 at home centers) uses 1⁄4-inch micro tubing fitted with bubbling emitters and attached to a silcock to slowly dispense water. Put the drip on autopilot with a digital timer that you set to a schedule.
digital timer, from $29, The Home Depot