How to Keep Your Flower Containers Vibrant and Beautiful this Summer

Written by: Rose Stephan



Time to read min

Every Spring I look forward to my outing to Stone Gate Greenhouses to buy my flower containers. Some years I buy the individual plants and flowers so I can create my own planter creation. Other years, when I’m short on time, I buy the pre-made planters created by the owner Adri and her crew who do such an amazing job. Anyone touring downtown Bobcaygeon this summer can’t help but notice Adri’s passion and hard work because Bolton Street is lined with her spectacular planters.


We put our colourful planters on the lake-side to brighten our waterfront and I do my best to keep them healthy and blooming throughout the summer. My biggest challenge though is knowing how often to water and fertilize especially when they’re in full sun and get a lot of wind off of the lake. Only through trial and error, plus asking experienced gardeners like Adri (and a bit of online research) have I learned what I should and should not do when it comes to caring for my containers.


I thought you might find the following tips helpful for keeping your planters looking vibrant and beautiful this summer. And if you have any other tips be sure to let me know the next time you visit us at our store!

woman planting flowers in a pot

Water Often But Avoid Overwatering:

This has always been the biggest challenge for me. I used to water every day without bothering to check whether the planters needed the water. And if it rained that day then I would skip the chore, assuming they’d received enough moisture. I now realize this wasn't the ideal way to go about it and there is a quick and easy way to determine whether I should be watering my planters. 


At least once a day I test the moisture in the soil by pressing my finger into the top inch to see if it feels dry. If it does then I know it needs a good soaking. If only the surface is dry but underneath it’s still moist then I can hold off but perhaps check a little later on in the day especially if it is sunny and windy. A good rule of thumb is to keep the soil “moist but well drained” and not soggy but no longer do I just automatically water every day. 

Ensure Water Can Drain:

To ensure that the soil in the planter does not become water logged I had to learn the lesson (the hard way!) to have good drainage in the bottom of the container. 


Roger and I drilled some holes in the bottom of our black planters and it made a huge difference, allowing the water to flow through the soil, get at the roots and then drain out the bottom. When you’re watering it’s a good sign to see moisture coming out the bottom.

terracotta pots with drainage holes

TIP:  When determining how often and how much to water consider the type of container the plants are in. If it is a porous material such as coco fibre or terra cotta it will have good drainage but will dry out more quickly than a ceramic or plastic container. Hanging baskets are typically made in porous containers. The more porous the container the more you need to keep a close check on the moisture level.

Best Time of Day to Water:

Similar to watering your lawn,  the best time of day to water your planters is first thing in the morning. This way the flowers will be moist during the day and have time to dry out before the nightfall. Neither your lawn nor your containers will thrive when too moist overnight as it leaves them at risk of getting fungus and mildew. 


If you don’t have time to water first thing in the morning then certainly you should still water them later in the day so long as they are in need of a drink, but perhaps don’t soak them so much that they will be soggy overnight.

red flowers in a basket

TIP: Consider the size of the container. The smaller the container the quicker it will dry out. Anything smaller than 12” diameter will dry out quickly. The bigger the container the more soil it can hold and the more moisture it can retain for the roots. Also, the more room the plants will have to grow.

How Often Should a Container Be Fertilized:

To encourage stronger roots and more vibrant blooms it’s a good idea to fertilize your containers on a regular basis, since over time the soil will inevitably lose nutrients. If you keep your plants well fed and watered it will result in healthy strong roots and gorgeous blooms for the entire summer.


When we first bring our planters home we use a slow release fertilizer to get them established. We like using Miracle Gro Shake N Feed Bloom Plant Food because it slowly releases the nutrients the plants need in order to thrive over the next 3 months.


Then, to give them a boost, we add Miracle Gro Bloom Booster Plant Food to our planters every 7 to 14 days. We find this helps keep our containers looking healthy, vibrant and gets them through the entire season looking beautiful.


Some signs that your plants are in need of nutrients are:

• Not getting many flowers

• Slow growth

• Flowers are yellowing or lack vibrancy

• Stems look limp, weak

Grooming Your Containers:

Often at the end of the day I’m craving a bit more time outdoors while it’s still day light so I use that as an opportunity to go from planter to planter “deadheading”, by pinching off any of the dead blooms to encourage new growth. I also snip off any damaged leaves or branches. 


As the summer progresses I notice it becomes more and more important to do this and to stay on top of the watering and fertilizing. It’s always so rewarding to have beautiful, vibrant planters right up until Fall and so the little extra time I spend on them each evening seems to pay off.

Products We Recommend:

beautiful flower garden

I hope you find these tips useful and that you have the opportunity to appreciate all the beauty summer has to offer here in Kawartha Lakes cottage country!

Sincerely, Rose