Answering Emails, Pot Garden Update

CEW August 2016 1cc

The following are some of the recent emails and calls from friends and readers, starting with one about one of my favorite projects, my “pot garden.”

“…was wondering how your pot garden is doing? My mother started one this year and she is struggling with her tomatoes….” – Lisa

Charlotte: Hi Lisa, your mom is not alone, this was a hard growing season for tomatoes. Between the record hot temperatures and the extremes in soil conditions – too much water one day, not enough the next – my tomatoes also did not do well.

However, now that temperatures are moderating, my tomatoes are starting to ripen, so, hopefully your mom will soon get a late bounty as well.

My green peppers and cucumbers were fried in our record heat; my eggplant start was munched on early on but seems to be making a good recovery, and my herbs are plodding along.

I actually caught myself thinking I may just stick with my deck pot garden next year instead of trying to plant a traditional garden plot. We’ll see, it was a humid day, the heat may have gotten to me for a minute or so but it’s not a bad idea.

“I was thinking of planting exotic plants in pots so I can bring them in over winter. Have you tried to grow more tropical plants?” – Harold

Charlotte: I sure have, Harold. As a matter of fact in another month or so I will be preparing a number of tropical plants in pots to spend the winter inside: tropical hibiscus, two orange trees, a couple of lime trees, a pomegranate bush and a banana tree. The hibiscus and fruit trees like to bloom in January provided they have the right light exposure. I also tend to sneak some herbs and potted flowers in. It becomes a bit of a jungle but I love having all of that greenery around me when it’s freezing outside.

First off, Charlotte, does anyone hold classes to learn more about planting flowers etc.?  Also I would like to get your opinion. I have Canna plants which I love, but they came up a few years ago not where I planted them so they are in a clump. I want to snip them off and move the bulb. When would you suggest doing that?Is it too early to move them now? – Maureen

Charlotte: The only plant classes being offered in this area this fall is a master gardener program in Pulaski County. Stanley Dillon, of Stanley’s Garden Center, St. James, has been offering classes on Saturdays in January and February. Your other option is the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, they have some wonderful Saturday seminars.

As far as your Cannas, those tropical plants aren’t supposed to winter over in USDA Zone 5b but I have friends who show me Cannas that have. We have had many mild winters, which may contribute to their success. Cannas usually need to be dug up after the first frost, then stored in a cool dry area. If you leave them outside, make sure you mulch them heavily, 6 inches or so to protect them. Does anyone else have suggestions?

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener, beekeeper and sometimes cook. Copyright 2016 used with permission, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at

GTD It's a trick 2 cc

IT’S A TRICK – You can plant a number of interesting plants in pot gardens. This is a pomegranate plant with the most beautiful orange flowers. From Greek mythology: Don’t eat the seeds lest, like Persephone, you are forced to spend time in Hades. (Photos by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins).

GTD End of season 2 cc

END OF THE SEASON – My deck pot garden as of the end of August 2016. I leave the volunteer weeds to help keep nitrogen in the soil between plantings. Truly.

Facebook Comments