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Plant and care ... a general approach to container gardening

Proven Winners plants have many uses and conditions vary from garden to garden from country to country. However, to ensure a healthy growth, a long blooming period and prolific flowering, it is a must to take a few, but necessary precautions which apply to almost all annuals and ensure a lovely performance.


Bedding plants are fond of light and air

(The)Plants need sun (light?) and fresh air to be able to grow and bloom optimally. Hence a light situation on the terrace, balcony, (in garden beds) or in a hanging basket is ideal and helps ensure the continuous//continued development of the plants and flowers. In general, annuals cannot get too much light under our climatic conditions//in these latitudes, but their situation may get too hot, especially if the surface of the soil or the roots are not protected against direct sun, or if the plants e.g. are placed in a closed greenhouse without airing.


Plants need space:

Even though many plants with advantage can be planted rather close together with other plants (community-plants), they all need sufficient room to grow and develop, especially to be able to dry after a shower. Use large pots with a good volume, and plant the plants at least 20 cm apart.


Having cold feet is not pleasant:

Most plants suffer if the soil is cold and soaked with water - their roots simply drown. That is why it is important always to ensure proper drainage and to avoid over-watering. Check pots, containers and window boxes to make sure that all draining holes are big enough to allow excess water do drain away easily.


Plants like a good planting media:

We always recommend a good, rich potting compost. Before planting the mould can be mixed with fertilizer, e.g. a slow release fertilizer which is gradually released over the summer period. The quantity required depends on the product, but generally the dosage is 2-3 grams per litre of potting soil. Follow the instructions on the package as regards dosage, etc.  It is not a good idea to plant in very acid soil, nor in pure chalk. 


Planting is easy (and relaxing):

To release the plant from the pot hold it between your forefinger and middle finger, at level with the pot edge or just above the potting soil and turn the pot upside down. Squeeze the pot gently or knock it carefully against the edge of a table. Try to loosen the clod of soil from the pot without damaging the small roots, this is most easily done when the pot-soil is moderately moist. 


How to plant

Fill the pot, jar or container 3/4 with the prepared potting soil. Remove the new plants from their plastic pot and plant them with the recommended intervals. The old surface should be approximately 2 cm below the new surface. Press gently around the roots of the plants and top fill up with potting till the edge of the pot. Now water (tilvande) with a soft jet of water or use a nozzle, so that the whole clod becomes moist. After the initial tilvanding the distance between the surface of the soil and the pot's edge should be a couple of centimetres, making space for the next watering.


Apply water - don't drown :

Some flowers want lots of water, others don't, so the trick is to find a balance, especially when more sorts of plants are planted in the same container. As a general rule, more plants are damaged by too much water than by too little. Don't water till the soil starts to look lighter or clearly feels try, also at the lower part of the pot, or lift the small pots to feel their weight. It is important to check the plants after a period of rain, some dry out sooner than expected, whereas others stay wet for quite a time. 


Flowers and other plants need fertilizing:

A regular and appropriate addition of nutrients prevents as well excess and deficiency (of what?), and secures a continous growth with lots of new shoots, buds and flowers. It is recommended always to mix the planting soil with a slow release feritlizer before the planting, and to add fertilizer a least once a week during the summer months, e.g. a water soluble fertilizer mixed in with the water, – even if you have applied a slow release fertilizer.


What about pests ?:

Most annuals are not seriously afflicted by pests, many even carry /contain substances which deter/repel the pests. Proper watering and fertilizing, a good potting soil with room for the roots and a light, airy position//conditions is the best protection against pests and diseases. In addition it is possible to fight pests by biological means by using their natural enemies without harming//polluting the environment. Finally the problem may get so big that chemical pesticides ? are necessary – if so, you may ask your local garden centre for advice.  

Should such unwanted/uninvited guests invade your plants after all, greenflies/aphids (bladlus), ………. (spindemider) and caterpillarsare the most likely to cause problems. Bladlus don’t like cold water, so if the rain cannot deal with them, give them a cold shower. Caterpillars are kind of a dilemma as we all like to see the magnificent adult butterflies, but nature demands that they all go through a period as caterpillars spending days or weeks eating exactly the leaves and plant material (plantedele) intended to become our garden/summer flowers. (Spindemider) tend to turn up//appear after warm periods and can be difficult to control. Finallly the Iberian slug may cause damage//harm plants with rich foliage severely, e.g. petunias, whereas roes and other deers love begonias, ipomoeas and some of the nemesia-varieties.


Is deadheading necessary:

An old and very important piece of advice is that spent flowers and yellow leaves must be removed, maybe even several times a week. Like this fungal diseases and unnecessary seed set are prevented, and the plants become more vigourous and get more light and air to grow and bloom. The advice is still valid, though only as regards some annuals like geranium? and other plants with large, full flowers. Proven Winners tries to select plants that are prolific bloomers, but still are “low-maintenance” meaning that they don’t need to be deadheaded to secure a continuous blooming and growth, maintaining their fresh and neat look. Most Proven Winners varieties are self-cleaning – withered flowers are simply shed or covered by new leaves and flowers. Only varieties like the double Petunias or the large, full Belleconia flowers need deadheading.   


Is it possible to overwinter my bedding plants ?

As a general rule annuals are not winter hardy, and to overwinter they must be kept in a light, dry and cool room at 5-10 degrees Celsius. A heated greenhouse or (a cool indoor room) havestue  is the best place. A few varieties like Dahlia and Ipomoea may be overwintered as tubers, whereas others like Buddleja, Heuchera and Leucanthemum usually are hardy and may overwinter in the garden beds(vokseplads), maybe protected by leaves or spruce twigs (grangrene). 

Remember, by overwintering plants indoors, different kinds of insects and pests will overwinter, too. In the spring they will have a head start and may become a problem.