~ On the to-do list this spring from the Mini Garden Guru blog! We’re not just an online Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center store, we’ve been freely sharing, writing and teaching about all things gardening in miniature, since 2001.
Time to clean up your container gardens! It doesn’t really matter if it’s a regular container garden or if it’s a miniature garden, they’ve been sitting all winter and are now ready to prep and grow for Spring – Yay!
So here’s a checklist to help you get a jump on your spring cleaning:
1. Check to see if roots are growing out of the bottom of the container. If so, it’s time to re-pot. Depending on what is planted, divide the plants and replant them. This will maintain the same mini garden design – or use this opportunity to try something a bit different. You can even make two matching pots, swap plants with your gardener friends, or plant any extra plants in the garden bed for some continuity throughout your garden beds
2. Trim back any dead or leggy branches on your trees or bedding plants. The dead branches should be easy to see, if not just wiggle them to check to see if they are still alive. For most plants, you’ll see new growth along the leggy-branch so cut just above that new growth. This is “general” info! Google, “How do I prune my _____” for more precise information.
3. In spring, in drier climes, the garden soil may develop a crusty layer on the top that will redirect the water toward the sides of the pot, away from the plant’s roots. Use a garden fork or weeder to break up this crusty layer of soil so the water will be redirected evenly throughout the garden and the roots will get much needed moisture.
4. If re-potting is not required, poke a stick deep into the pot to aerate the soil around the root balls. The soil gets compacted when it has been planted for a couple of seasons and this will help get air and water to the roots.
5. Check for “conifer dieback.” When miniature and dwarf spruces shed their foliage, it often gets stuck in the middle of the plant, eventually suffocating and killing it. Slough off this dead foliage to the ground with your fingers, then clean up the dead needles around the base of the tree.
6. Look for snails and slugs around the base, bottom and sides of your container. Remove any debris on the soil – it’s where the snails and slugs like to hide. If you see leaves that are already chewed, look for that snail! He’s around somewhere. They may still be dormant if the area is cool. Also check under the lip/edge of the pot, underneath the foliage, the back of the garden beds and in the damp, shady areas close to the house or sometimes on the house. Some gardeners toss them in a pail of soapy water or salt them to kill them. I toss mine in an out-of-the-way place in our back garden and they can find something else to munch on.
7. If the garden is older than two years, sprinkle some general, organic fertilizer on top and mix it in to the top layer of the soil. Repeat this in mid-summer only if you see your plants need it, otherwise it’s a miniature garden and we don’t want the plants to grow more than they should.
8. Wipe the outside of the pot with a soft cloth. Get rid of scratches on ceramic surfaces with a little car-wax-polish. If the pot is past its prime, group it with other pots to hide it.
9. Water the garden thoroughly. Remember to always deep-water your established miniature garden containers by watering it until you see the water draining out of the holes in the bottom of the pot. If you’ve built a permanent mini patio in your miniature garden, thoroughly drench it at least once a month, (once a week in the hot months!) and will keep the soil hydrated throughout the container.
REMEMBER to watch out for your dormant plants before thinking, “Gee, there’s a spot I could try another plant in!” Some of them are slower to emerge than others so dig carefully if you’re doing any spring cleaning in an established miniature garden.
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