When your pot plants refuse to flower on demand

Multi-coloured hydrangeas “flowering” profusely in a pot by the front door. Pictures by Justine Tyerman
A mass of white agapanthas “flowering” in a pot by the swimming pool.
Use long-lasting flowers and foliage and make sure you cover the bottles with lots of straw or mulch.

I’ve never seen plants in pots flowering so prolifically,” my friend said to me as she admired the hydrangeas and agapanthas in pots at my front door and by the pool.

“How do you do it?” she asked.

“Oh, lots of water, fertiliser and attention,” I said as nonchalantly as I could.

“Well, I’m amazed at how you keep them looking so fresh and healthy in this extreme heat. I’ve got nothing flowering in pots now,” she said.

Foiled

As she felt around the base of the plants to check how much water I was giving them, she discovered something buried in the mulch.

“What’s this?” she shrieked as she parted the flowers and artfully-placed foliage to reveal the rim of a beer bottle . . . and six more the same.

“Busted!” I laughed.

“I’ve been cheating for years. Now you’ve discovered my dark secret,” I confessed.

“What a clever idea,” she said. “So clever in fact can I borrow the pots to fill in some gaps in the garden at a friend’s wedding this weekend?”

“Yes, by all means,” I replied.

“Just make sure you replace the flowers if they wilt and keep the bottles well concealed. No one will ever know . . . unless they are super-inquisitive like you.”

How to make a cheat pot:

Place as many beer or soft drink bottles as you can in a pot, fill with water, pack with straw or mulch and put whatever long-lasting flowers and foliage you can lay your hands on into the bottles. Add more straw or mulch to fully hide the bottles.

I’ve tried using roses too but they need replacing almost daily in the heat.

I’ve never seen plants in pots flowering so prolifically,” my friend said to me as she admired the hydrangeas and agapanthas in pots at my front door and by the pool.

“How do you do it?” she asked.

“Oh, lots of water, fertiliser and attention,” I said as nonchalantly as I could.

“Well, I’m amazed at how you keep them looking so fresh and healthy in this extreme heat. I’ve got nothing flowering in pots now,” she said.

Foiled

As she felt around the base of the plants to check how much water I was giving them, she discovered something buried in the mulch.

“What’s this?” she shrieked as she parted the flowers and artfully-placed foliage to reveal the rim of a beer bottle . . . and six more the same.

“Busted!” I laughed.

“I’ve been cheating for years. Now you’ve discovered my dark secret,” I confessed.

“What a clever idea,” she said. “So clever in fact can I borrow the pots to fill in some gaps in the garden at a friend’s wedding this weekend?”

“Yes, by all means,” I replied.

“Just make sure you replace the flowers if they wilt and keep the bottles well concealed. No one will ever know . . . unless they are super-inquisitive like you.”

How to make a cheat pot:

Place as many beer or soft drink bottles as you can in a pot, fill with water, pack with straw or mulch and put whatever long-lasting flowers and foliage you can lay your hands on into the bottles. Add more straw or mulch to fully hide the bottles.

I’ve tried using roses too but they need replacing almost daily in the heat.

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