Growing Things: Free Standing Planters and Watering in Warm Weather

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Q I recently purchased a very old cast iron tub with claw feet. I placed the tub outside the fence of my property, between the fence and the paved driveway. The driveway faces north/south and the tub faces west. I plan to grow something attractive there for everyone in my neighborhood to enjoy. My concern is that vandals are also using the driveway, so I should probably choose what I plant carefully. I considered Karl Forrester ornamental grasses with this lemon yellow vine hanging down the edges. What ideas could you have for me?

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Repurposed tubs, which have a built-in drain, can be fun planters.
Repurposed tubs, which have a built-in drain, can be fun planters. Photo by Ken Orr /Provided

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A I have seen clawfoot tubs turned into planters many times. I always like how they look. Your idea of ​​herbs combined with Ipomoea batista, or sweet potato vine would be very appealing. I have an idea to share — it’s a planting that I found particularly appealing. It was a clawfoot tub simply filled with Alyssum ‘Carpet of Snow’ and ‘Rosie O’Day’. These low-growing, spreading plants filled the entire tub, giving the illusion of a tub full of water. The bonus is the pleasant scent of the Alyssum. Considering you’re sharing this tub with your neighborhood, combining planting aesthetics and fragrance would be a really nice combination.

The Great Watering Debate

Q I notice that my plants suffer during our hot periods. Is there a better time to water them? I watered towards the end of the day. I think if I water earlier in the day the water evaporates, so I water them overnight and the next day.

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A This is one of those topics that sparks debate among the gardening fraternity. My opinion is that watering in the evening is not a good idea because the risk of fungal diseases due to humidity increases. I recommend watering early in the morning in hot weather. The reasoning is that watering in the cool of the morning allows water to penetrate deeper into the root ball without evaporating quickly.

When watering, I always use a watering wand so I can water at the base of the plants and never pour water on the leaves. Water droplets can act as magnifying glasses and burn leaves.

Pay special attention to potted plants as they may need to be watered twice a day on very hot days. Use the finger test in your containers to check moisture levels. I dig my index finger into the ground to the second knuckle. If it is dry, it needs water.

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Don’t forget to water the trees and shrubs as well. Shallow-rooted trees like birch or cedars need special attention in the heat, as do certain shrubs like hydrangeas. The rule with these plants is to water less frequently but more deeply. I like to use a soaker hose laid around the base of the tree or shrub and run the water for a few hours. If you don’t have a soaker, use a regular hose with the water trickling out for about an hour at the base. I like to make a pit of dirt around the base of my trees and shrubs to help trap water and allow it to penetrate deeper.

Learn more by emailing your questions to, reading previous columns on or my book Just Ask Jerry. You can also follow me on Twitter @justaskjerry01.

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