It's that time of year again: the summer is over (I know, I know, “what summer?”) and it's time to put all our outdoor pots up on their “feet”, so that they have good drainage over the winter.
Throughout the summer, it's ok to have pots standing directly on the ground: it keeps the water in them for longer, and in fact in hot summers, many of us stand the pots in saucers to catch the water and keep them moist.
But in winter, there is a danger of the pots becoming waterlogged, which is bad for two reasons.
Firstly, a waterlogged plant might rot at the roots, which will obviously be very bad for it. But secondly, when we get the cold weather again, the water inside the pots will freeze, and we all know that water expands as it freezes. So if your pots are waterlogged, the root ball will expand as it freezes, and may well crack the pots.
Raising the pots allows them to drain much better, thus avoiding both of these problems.
In many of “my” gardens, I have a box in the shed to keep all the terracotta “feet” safe over the summer, so this week I have been going round digging them all out - aren't there a lot of spiders around this year, by the way? - and sorting them out into sets of three.
Then comes the fun game of positioning them equally around the pot, and trying to manoeuvre the pots up, one “foot” at a time, without getting a faceful of foliage. It always makes me laugh to hear my Clients refer to me as their “lady gardener” as I spit out greenery and spiders in a particularly un-lady-like manner...
But at least once they are up on their feet, they are done for the winter.
If you have your pots standing in saucers, don't forget to take those saucers away: if you don't have any “feet” for your pots, you can just turn the saucers over, which is not quite as good as raising them on feet, but at least it's better than having them sitting in water all through the winter!