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The red hibiscus in back is clearly bigger, but the yellow one is still flowering. I take that as a positive sign.

Remember that $300 I spent on plants to get my patio ready for summer? Yeah, I almost lost about 25 per cent of them last week!

I’m still not sure I was able to rescue them, but I think they’re now on the road to recovery.

The problem was with a set of three green planters that I bought last year.

I had bought the same set of planters about 3 years ago – only in black – and had been using them without issue. The planters are nice because they have a reservoir at the bottom that helps keep the soil damp. The reservoir has a small drain hole positioned to make sure water can escape if it gets too full.

When I bought those black planters, I don’t recall having to puncture that drain hole. It was just there. So I didn’t think to look when I bought the green planters two years later.

That was my mistake.

On Wednesday, I went outside to make sure everything was okay in my garden. It had been rainy for a few days and I assumed all the plants were getting enough water, but thought I should double-check.

Well, they certainly weren’t too dry. Water was pooling on top of the soil – this wasn’t good!

My yellow hibiscus was in the worst shape. The soil had become sludgy – like the quicksand you used to see on ‘70s TV shows (back in the days when quicksand was apparently a real concern for people.)

I made a couple of aborted attempts to upend the pots to check the drain hole. At this point I wasn’t even sure that was the problem, but the pots were way too heavy, and of course any effort to tip them sent mud sloshing onto my patio.

Clearly I was going to have to drain everything and re-plant. Thankfully, I had left a corner of my flowerbeds unplanted this year. That gave me the space I needed to dump the green planters out (after carefully removing the plants of course) and to repot the flowers.

The amount of water that came out was ridiculous, but at least starting from scratch gave me the opportunity to look at the drain hole and discover that, indeed, the hole was covered. It had been scored (for easy removal) but not punctured. The water I had been adding to these planters had nowhere to go!

Was the manufacturer trying to save money by getting the buyer to make their own hole?! The drain hole is pretty important – just knock the damn thing out when you’re making these pots…Argh!

I managed to repot all three of the green planters (after adding the drain hole) and the soil is still wet, but at least it’s no longer soupy. With the empty reservoir at the bottom, the soil should continue to drain.

I think I managed to rescue the plants before root rot set in. I’ll know better in the coming days if these plants survive, or whether I’ve lost a quarter of my 2016 crop.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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