Feeding and watering plants in pots

Find out how to feed and water your container-grown plants, in our No Fuss Guide with Kevin Smith.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
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To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Regular watering and feeding of container-grown plants can dramatically increase the life of your display. Discover how to keep your containers in tip-top condition in our No Fuss Guide to feeding and watering plants, with Kevin Smith, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.

Feeding and watering plants in pots: transcript

Regular maintenance is an important part of keeping a container in tip top shape. After all, you don’t want to go to all the effort of buying plants and planting a lovely pot, for it then to die and not look very nice.

The most important thing to keep on top of, is watering. It’s something you do from the first moment you plant the container and you should do it regularly throughout the container’s life. When you’re watering, make sure you direct the flow of the water straight at the compost. You don’t want to sprinkle the leaves as this doesn’t really do any good and go gently too, so that no water splashes over the side and is wasted. Consider the types of plants you have. If you’ve got really thirsty things like crops or tropical cannas, they’re going to need lots of water as they’re really thirsty and need to have lots of moisture in the compost to stay healthy. Other things don’t need quite so much. Things like pelargoniums and begonias can cope with a little bit less water and in fact, they don’t really like it if they do become too wet. Also, think about the time of year – it might sound obvious, but in the heat of summer, a pot like this is going to need much more water than in the cooler winter months. And one other top tip as well – don’t be fooled by rain! If you think it’s rained and you don’t need to water a container, you’re probably wrong. All of this leafy foliage covers the compost surface, meaning that no rain really reaches anything at all.

As well as watering, a container needs really regular feeding, most composts will help things last for about six to eight weeks, but after that, a weekly feed will really keep plants in good condition. There are a couple of ways you can go about it. You might want to think about using a liquid feed. This fertiliser is just diluted in a can of water, which you then add to the pot as you would, just as if you were watering it. You’ll probably need to do this around once a week. If a liquid feed isn’t for you, you can think about doing something a little bit more long term. These capsules are great for slowly releasing fertiliser into the soil and you simply just poke them into the compost, cover them up and let them do their thing.

Once feeding and watering is taken care of, you need to just keep on top of deadheading and general maintenance to keep your pot looking smart. It’s important that you snip faded blooms from flowering plants like this. Just cut back to a new bud and this will encourage new growth and new flowers. It’s important to tell the difference between a faded bloom and a new bud – they can look quite similar. So, just look out for those little seeds in the middle and the scruffy looking petals that have faded. And just one final thing – as temperatures dip and summer turns into autumn and winter, you might want to think about using pot feet like this. Feet like this are perfect for stopping the bottom of the pot becoming saturated and wet and cracking in frosty conditions. It’s just a simple and easy way of making sure a container makes it through the winter. So there we have it – a simple feeding, watering and maintenance regime to keep your containers looking good year round.