Most years, I think “I will make sure to dig up a couple of pepper plants in the fall and bring them into the greenhouse just before the first frost comes.” One year, I actually did get around to transplanting one, but since I had to take a lot of garden soil with it, it left a big hole in my raised bed and it was hard to water. Regular dirt, even fairly friable garden dirt, is never easy to water in a pot.
This year, I am thinking ahead and planting a couple of my large patio pots with peppers as the center plant. I’ve always thought pepper plants are pretty. The patio has a nice warm southern exposure, so I expect them to be quite happy. Keep in mind that the pots are light weight, only made to look like ceramic, but have air for most of their thickness. The soil is what makes them heavy. I can, however, move them by rolling them sideways.
I chose to plant one pot with a Hot Paper Lantern (HPL) pepper, and the other with a specialty bell pepper called “Sweet Chocolate” (SC) The HPL is something I have grown before. It stays small for a while, until the weather really gets hot. Then, one day I look at it and it is just loaded with bright red peppers dangling under it’s canopy. The SC, a bell I haven’t grown before, is looking very sturdy and trying to flower, so it doesn’t seem to be finicky.
I wanted to use some of my flowers that I have grown from seed to fill in around the base of the peppers. For each pot, I picked one lower growing flower plant and one that would not be much taller than a foot. Portulaca, or moss rose, and night phlox went in around the HPL. Balcony petunia and salpiglossis (painted tongue) are surrounding the SC. The SC pot might get a little more afternoon shade where it is now, but I can move it if I need to.
I am not one to fuss about putting fresh potting soil in my pots every year. Especially the really big ones. Besides the cost of it, just all the stirring to get it initially wet strains my arms! After a couple of years, I’m sure they have their own ecosystems going in there. Why would I want to disturb that? I do fertilize occasionally, when I get around to it. I’m not going to stop planting just because I might get behind on a suggested fertilization schedule. Mostly, plants like dirt and water. I did lose some potting soil to the root mass of the old plants that I pulled out. Plus, I think some just gets blown away. So, I added about 3 inches of new moistened soil on top of the old.
All of the plants that I planted this time around had abundant roots. They needed some roughing up so that they will be stimulated to grow outside of their pot shape. I rubbed the sides and pulled a fair amount at the bottom of the root mass. After they were tamped down, I watered everything thoroughly. Then, remembering the propensity of the cats to lounge in my comfy pots, I added plastic forks (and a few knives when I ran out of forks!). I may have tons to plant in the rest of my vegetable and flower beds, but these pots have a finished look about them that calms the frazzled spring gardener.