August 2012
Home Grown Tomatoes

Fill ‘em UP!


As you bump plants up to the next size pot, the smaller pots are the right size for late-season seed sowing.

We’re a month and a half into summer, and we have endured some extremely hot temperatures! You’re all probably watering your garden at least every other day. Container plantings are probably getting it every day, if not twice per day.

Next to harvesting veggies and fruits, and cutting flowers, watering my garden and container plants is one of the many things relaxing me as I watch them grow. Every day, at a certain time in the afternoon, the plants need attention. It is about the same time neighbors get home from work and start to attend to their plants and pets.

We have all sown our seeds, put in our vegetable gardens, planted our seasonal annuals and added perennials to the garden. What’s left besides watering, harvesting and looking at the beauty of our efforts? Well, the planting probably isn’t over just yet.

What’s next?

Think about all of those empty pots. Those left over and taking up space in your potting shed, greenhouse or basement are just waiting for a purpose in life!


Sometimes age shows too much (inset). But aged pots are easily renewed with a little spray paint.


I am pretty sure you still have containers needing plants in them. Pots, planters and various other vessels just lying around waiting on a purpose in life should be bringing joy to you. They just need some creative ideas.

Plant everything! I mean, plant everything with a hole big enough to hold soil and roots! That means, plant every pot, planter, basket, unused kitchen bowl, old shoe or any other container needing to be kept from the landfill!

Usually, about mid-summer, I find all of my good pots are not planted. You know the type, the pots made of terra cotta, ceramics or oddball containers just screaming, "Plant me!"

Well, it’s time to use those empty containers and planters longing to be shown off for what they are worth!


There’s always a plant or two needing a bigger pot by August. Sometimes the best looking containers get overlooked in the spring while you’re waiting on the perfect plant.


Perhaps you have been saving a particular decorative pot for a specific plant, or there were a bunch of plastic nursery pots that came with shrubs or perennials in them and you planted them in your garden. Those pots should be planted or recycled! Why on earth would you store something you aren’t going to ever use?

Leftover pots should never be left empty. There is a purpose for all of them.

For example, larger pots (5- to 15-gallon size) are excellent containers for tomatoes, peppers or mixed flower plantings. Medium size pots (2- to 4-gallon size) are good for flower plantings and mixed plantings. One gallon and smaller pots are perfect for starting coleus and begonia cuttings as well as impatiens, coleus and many succulents. Sempervivum, sedum, escheveria and various cultivars of aloe are easily propagated in your extra pots. The growing season isn’t over yet, folks.

Right now is the perfect season to find and rescue plants from the "big box" stores and find late-season bargains at your local garden centers. Take advantage of the opportunity and get some cheap plants for your extra pots.

There shouldn’t be any terra cotta empties this time of year! This larger pot is a perfect size for this lonely, forgotten cowhorn pepper seedling!


Fill up those extra pots with soil and start seeds for your fall, cool-weather crops like mustard greens, lettuce, spinach and other salad greens. It is not too late (early) to start basil in those pots either! The plants can always be transplanted into other pots for your windowsill kitchen garden.

Do you have extra jars saved from products purchased over the last year? I do and I reserve a few of them to root plants in. Old jelly, relish and cherry jars are the perfect size for rooting plants in water. Fill the jars with water and replace the screw lid with aluminum foil. Poke holes in the foil and place your cuttings through the holes so the basal end of the stem is immersed in the water.

Plants responding well to this propagation technique include, but are certainly not limited to, begonia, African violet, basil, primrose, Streptocarpus and many others.

If there are plants your neighbors have and you would like them in you own garden, ask them for a cutting and use your surplus pots to root them in. So what if you don’t place them in your garden until next year? You will save money and be able to tell your garden buddies how you propagated the plants.

Broken terra cotta or ceramic pots can still be planted, too. It is probably best to use them in an outdoor garden setting, but placing broken pottery in strategic garden spots can add whimsy and interest to your planting beds.

Use those pots that would otherwise be left for the spiders to nest in. Fill ‘em UP!

If you have any questions or comments regarding container gardening, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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