A GROWING CONCERN: Break out the baskets for Easter

SEVERAL OF MY friends brought an extension ladder over last week to help me off my “high horse” and down from an exceedingly tall “soapbox.”

With that said: Happy Easter to all. May this weekend see you with good friends and family as we reflect on this time of spring and all things resurrected.

And without question, now is the time to resurrect your most distinguished plantings.

It is time to get all residents of the Olympic Peninsula revved up for baskets and containers.

Our weather here is ideally suited for the average homeowner to grow some of the best containers and baskets in the world.

This is because our evening temperatures stay so mild and rarely do daytime temperatures rise above 70 degrees, so our containers don’t suffer from heat stress.

And our weather is already warm enough to plant containers. They should last all the way through December — at the minimum.

Just one or two hanging baskets or a magnificent pot at your doorway will instantly transform your house into a charming home.

I have always maintained that if just 75 percent of all people would put out one pot or basket, then we would be dubbed “Flower Peninsula USA.”

Baskets and pots are fantastic for their artistic value. They allow you to pick and choose colors, textures, blooms and fragrance to complement your house, yard and personal style. They also add vertical interest.

Picking the pot itself or basket adds to the piece and should be as significant as the plants themselves.

Always pick the right light conditions for your plants.

Some are suited for full sun, half-day sun, full shade, light shade or even very hot and dry.

And why not pick some hardy perennials or bi-annuals so you can replant them in your garden for years of enjoyment?

Take time to think about color and bloom sequence in order to keep your visual display at peak performance throughout the year.

Select plants that are cool tolerant if possible, meaning they can withstand light frost (28 degrees and above).

These plants can be hung now and will last until December or longer.

However, the No. 1 factor for your success will be your soil and fertilizer.

Your soil for your baskets, pots and containers must be the best possible because you will be putting way too many plants into way too small a space.

But if you use great soil — one that is a mix of peat, perlite, vermiculite, cow manure, sheep manure, bark, black top soil, sand, leaf mold and compost — then it will both hold water and nutrients in abundance.

It will also be full of pore space so roots will explode into these gaps in a mad and wild search for food and moisture.

I usually start with a very expensive bag of blended soil then add manures, compost, etc., along with bone meal, blood meal, lime, and after planting, osmocote, fertilizer (time release) on top.

Then the key is watering.

Watering is the way plants get fertilized, so water every day in order to feed the plants. Rain never counts as watering.

So take the next 10 days to shop around and pick out containers and plants for that perfect look.

Display hanging baskets proudly for all the neighborhood to enjoy and please be a critical factor in our home becoming thought of as “Flower Peninsula USA.”

________

Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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