As of now in my life I live in a wonderful apartment which seems like it would be a horrid thing for someone who loves gardening. Overall, yes I would love some more dirt and surface area to grow things in, but I still get to exercise my green thumb muscles. This year I had a very busy spring and wasn’t able to get seeds started in time for the herbs and plants I had planned…which is sad because I had some awesome tomato plant ideas, oh well. Any who, I still wanted some lovely summer scenery for my morning tea and God time on the porch, so I went low maintenance this year. The four plants I picked would be awesome starter plants for those who would like to explore their green thumbs a little more. These plants are a perfect balance of learning (for those new to gardening) but not being overwhelmed and they yield beautiful blooms. You will see growth which will motivate you to take care of them!
Before I go on I will preface this by saying that two out of the four need full sun and the other two need shade, so pay attention to your porch or yard and know if you can do these plants or not. I will talk mostly in terms of porches because that is what mine are on and in pots.
Lets get started with….#1 Portulaca:
also known as Moss-Rose Purslane (so if you see that on a tag its Portulaca)
There are different varieties of this plant with different colored blooms, but they all have the same care requirements.
WATERING: These are a drought resistant plant so they are very good for hot, humid summer weather. They need to be watered when the top 1-2 inches of soil are completely dry. If you over-water you will notice your leaves start to turn yellow and if you under-water you will notice limp stems. (it takes a long time for these plants to feel under-watered) make sure your pots have good drainage holes.
SOIL: They prefer sandy soil if you are buying and re-potting. If you are buying already potted, they should be in the appropriate soil.
TIP: I bought mine already potted this year. Every now and then run your fingers through the top soil to loosen it, it will help your plant receive water more evenly.
SUN/SHADE: These plants need full sun.
TIP: pull off blooms that have died to encourage more bloom growth. This plant will give you a beautiful display of blooms if you keep dead-heading.
These succulent like plants will start to get a bit leggy in late summer into fall. If you want to keep your plant year around, make sure you bring your plant inside when it starts getting cold out. It will need a sunny, warm spot.
Got too much? Cut it back, you can give the cuttings to friends and family that would like to grow their own. Portulaca roots in soil easily, just stick a stem in some good soil and it will continue to grow
#2 Coleus (Kong Scarlet)
WATERING: Water when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. Make sure your pot has good drainage holes.
SUN/SHADE: Coleus can handle partial sun but will be most vibrant in full shade
TIP: When it blooms (like you see in the picture) pinch the bloom stalk off. The blooms are not the main attraction of the Kong Scarlet, so pinching the bloom stalk off allows the leaves to get more nutrients to grown bigger and more vibrant.
Kong Scarlet does pretty well in cooler tempratures but when it starts to frost bring it inside.
#3 Kalanchoe (type of succulent)
WATERING: Like most (if not all) succulents they are a desert plant, so they are very drought resistent. In fact, they prefer dry soil. You run the risk of over-watering succulents as opposed to under-watering them. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings. Kalanchoe roots are fairly sensitive.
SOIL: Soil needs to be well-drained and well-aerated. If you buy already potted it should be good. Make sure your pot has good drainage holes and it is best for it to be a clay pot for the roots.
SUN/SHADE: Kalanchoe can live in sun or shade. They need good light to bloom. Mine is in full shade but it gets indirect sunlight so I still get bloomage.
TIP: Like the other plants mentioned, dead-head the spent blooms to encourage more bloomage.
When buying Petunias pick a pot thats leaves are very healthy without spots or rips and find one that has only bloomed a little bit. That way you will get to reap the benefits of the most blooms.
WATERING: When in containers Petunias require more frequent watering. Check to see if the top soil is beginning to dry and water then. FULL DISCLOSURE: make sure you dont forget to water it because they will wilt and you wont be able to get them completely healthy again. That happened to mine 😦
SUN/SHADE: Petunias prefer full sun but can stand partial shade. You will have less blooms in partial shade but still healthy.
TIP: Always dead-head petunias so the nutrients will focus somewhere else.
All of these plants are beautiful to look at and grow. As long as you stay on top of watering and follow these tips you should have gorgeous, low maintenance plants for your patio to enjoy all summer and then into your home for the winter months.
OVERALL TIP: You should fertilize your plants once a month. Fertilizer usually comes in a concentrated form that you add water to. I use Miracle Grow Fertilizer and just follow the box instructions. Add it to your watering can and fertilize while you water that day. Two birds…one stone!
Hope this is helpful to someone ❤ Enjoy 🙂