Hanging Basket Care
We put a lot of time and effort into growing our hanging baskets into the beautiful combinations they are. They are beautiful as they go out the door and we want the proud owner to care for them correctly so that the baskets remain stunning. Care for the hanging basket is crucial to maintain the full and vibrant appearance, but it doesn’t have to be very difficult.
First off, hanging baskets are often placed in an area that has more air circulation than patio pots. Secondly, the pots are limited to how much dirt the flowers can be placed in. If the hanging baskets were larger, most wouldn’t be able to hang them where they desire. Watering can be tricky, but it can be made very simple. At first glance, an overwatered plant will display similar symptoms to an under watered plant. The easiest way to test the hanging basket is to push up on the bottom. There will be a significant weight difference between a wet and dry hanging basket. Being conscious of the weather can help as well. If you watered thoroughly yesterday and it has been relatively cool with no sun, then you probably won’t have to water today.
Some baskets are placed under an overhang and will need water whether it rains or not. Others may be placed where they do get rained on and will have to be placed under protection if it is raining too much. It is important to talk to your nursery professional about the location you will have your hanging basket and they can tell you what to be on the lookout for.
There will be several plants growing in a basket and all will be sharing the same fertilizer. Keeping your basket well fed is important for prolific blooms and strong stems. Here at Whiting’s Nursery, we help you out right away by putting slow release fertilizer in the soil. Every homeowner should have Start-N-Grow fertilizer by Fertilome. It should be added to the basket two months after leaving the nursery. Bloom boosters can be supplemented in the meantime or anything high in phosphorous (the middle number).
Putting Together Your Own Baskets
Those of you who want to plant your own baskets, this is the easy part. Picking out your basket is up to you, just make sure where you hang it is able to hold the amount of weight. If you choose a coco lined/moss covered basket vs a plastic one. Know your watering needs will be different so pay attention to the soil and weight of the basket.
A quality soil will help you grow a quality basket. Fertilome has a great potting mix that comes in 25 and 50 quarts. It is an all-purpose performer that works well for germinating seeds as well as hanging baskets.
Before you put potting soil in your basket, make sure there are multiple drainage holes for the water to escape. Then you can fill to the brim with soil. It is helpful to water and settle the potting soil before planting, and then adding more potting soil if necessary.
Choosing the Right Plants
It is important to select plants that will work for your location. Talk with an employee in the garden center to help you choose plants that you like and that will thrive. If you have an east or north exposure, you want to stay more towards the shade loving plants. Full sun plants require a minimum of six hours of direct sun. If you have a west or south exposure, you are going to want more sun loving flowers that prefer the hot heat in the afternoon. Some varieties of plants grow larger and are more aggressive. Reading up about your choices is always a good idea. When in doubt always ask your nursery professional for advice and good tips for the plants you have chosen.
Deadheading and Cutting Back
This seems to be the neglected part of hanging baskets. No one wants to add another task on the list of maintaining their hanging baskets. This one is not that hard. There are a few clues your plants will give you that they need a bit of love. Most petunias being grown do not need dead heading. However, cutting back is an important task mid-season. When you notice more blooms at the bottom and the foliage is starting to flatten out and yellow at the base of the plant, that’s when you grab the scissors and trim back 4-6 inches worth of growth. Yes, there will be removal of flowers for now but, you will be grateful in a week or two when the plant starts to really bloom instead of dying out on the top.
Then there are the plants that need dead heading, (anything that does not automatically drop the flower). With the exception of calibrachoas, fuchsias and a few others, most need a clip or a pinch. If you start to notice they are starting to look drab and it has nothing to do with watering, that’s when you grab the clippers. Those of us who have been in the gardening industry for a while know which plants need what. We are happy to share our knowledge so ask away!