Why is your neighbour's balcony nicer than yours?
Maybe you know the feeling. You are approaching your house, look up at your balcony with summer flowers, and you just don´t get it. Blooms don’t grow, look nothing special, dull, just nothing to be proud of. You feel like a fool. You ask yourself why you bothered buying them at the first place. You look to the right, one neighbour has beautiful geraniums, you look to the left, another neighbour has wonderful petunias. How is this possible?
Geraniums and petunias are the most popular types of balcony plants, that is why we will pay attention to these local runners. Why is it then that they bloom so beautifully? Well, it´s not because the neighbour pours the rest of her cold coffee into the pot. Nor that her husband smokes secretly on the balcony tipping his cigarette into the soil. So, why then?
Geraniums are one of those outdoor classics which have been popular for years. They are stunning holders, preferring a sunny position, resisting strong winds and rain. Surfinias are coming closely second. They also love a sunny position, but they are much more delicate and fragile, which makes them less resistant to wind. Ideally they should be protected by a roof when a heavy rain comes.
Generally, the secret of everything lies in high quality seed and regular watering. It is important to plant the product as soon as you buy it in the store, because you have no idea know how long it has been there already. However, even though the plant in the store seems to be looking like it´s on its last journey, it doesn’t mean that it really is. What it needs is urgent planting in the outside pot, with a special substrate for balcony plants. This gives it all the nutrients. Then give it a bit of time to get used to the new environment to stabilize and grow roots, to feel welcome. After planting you do not fertilize the plant, leave it for at least three weeks, otherwise you do more harm. Then you can use a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium once a week or as per directions.
If you decide to invest in self-watering pots, you are half-way there, it will save you time and hassle. Classic pots are a bit more hard work, especially on hot days it is extremely important to water even twice a day, morning and evening. No need to water during hot peak of the day, use that time and splash yourself in the pool instead. We also suggest not waiting until your plants start turning yellow, dropping leaves and flowers, that´s too late. The substrate should be constantly moist, so even on hot days your plants feel pampered. Basically, prevention is much better than corrective action. It´s similar with people, if you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. The best water to use is the one you left to rest for a while, ideally at a temperature in which the plant is itself, so you can simply leave the watering bottle on the balcony. During colder days, since we have those in summer too, you just adapt to current conditions. After stormy weather, remove excess water, so the plants do not rotten.
Good idea is also to remove dead blooms to make room for new ones, removing flowers helps more flowering. Geraniums and surfinias can be attacked by aphids, in this case, use a special solution on green leaves and stems only. If your plants do not bloom and grow only, cut them by about 2/3 and fertilise. They will wake up and flourish.
Finally, when leaving for a vacation, find a reliable person who will take care of your plants. Only then you can enjoy their beauty when you return, and that glass of wine will taste much better. Perhaps, ask that neighbour.
But only if she is not a competitive type, you don´t want her to give your blooms a deadly cocktail.