Ask Burton: This week, a quick answer about issues in your containers. Those flowers in the patio pots need to look nice! Q: I have numerous pots of flowers on my patio, and many of them are getting yellowed foliage and aren’t looking their best. I fertilized them with a good granular fertilizer when I planted them up, and they get decent sunshine. Any ideas on improving them?

A: Flowers in containers need a steady source of additional fertilizer! You’re watering your pots more often than your plants in ground – you just have to – and each time you water, you lose a bit of soil fertility out the drainage holes as it rinses out.

Flowering plants in containers can be fed a granular fertilizer regularly, but water soluble fertilizers start working the moment you apply them, and are the fastest way to correct your poor color. Use ferti-lome 20-20-20 for most plantings, or Carl Pool BR-61 for some of your heaviest flowering plants like hibiscus, plumeria, bougainvillea, and plumbago. Apply these fertilizers every 7 to 10 days throughout the summer.

Improvement will be rapid if you do so.

Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.