Hanging Basket Success

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Hanging basket

Putting out flowering hanging baskets is one of the spring rituals I look forward to each year. Front porches, decks and patios all over the neighborhood slowly come alive with color as we all embrace the warming weather and spend more time outdoors.

The large containers by my front stairs got a spring makeover in mid-March followed by my window boxes and porch railing planters which I replanted this last weekend with early-season arrivals: geraniums, bacopa, etc. My front flower beds are looking bright and cheery with blooming bulbs and pansies planted late last fall so I will wait a few more weeks to replace them with summer blooming annuals.

Hanging baskets of flowers are now beginning to show up at the garden centers – they are just the right thing to add to the front porch for instant pizazz! If properly cared for and fertilized a hanging basket purchased now can offer months of color and enjoyment; here are a few of my best tips for success:

Water

A consistent watering schedule is the key to plant health; watering needs will increase as the plants grow and weather warms up. By mid-summer most baskets will need daily watering if not more than once a day. Check the weight of the basket to determine if it needs watering. If you plan to be gone for a few days it is best to have someone take care of your basket – see if a neighbor will keep it for a while. If there is no one to care for it, take it down from its hook, water it and place it in the shade while you are gone.

Fertilize

We recommend a time-release or slow release fertilizer be added to the soil in the basket as soon as you take it home: Osmocote is a long-lasting, reliable food that lasts for 4 months. In addition, liquid feed with SuperBloom every 10-14 days for best performance.

Deadhead

Some varieties of flowers do not need their spent blooms removed to keep blooming (Calibrachoa/ Million Bells are ‘self-cleaning’) but many do and most baskets look better when this is done. Be sure to deadhead and examine baskets weekly to keep plants clean and healthy.

Protect

From bud worms and caterpillars with Captain Jack’s Dead Bug; spray when you see a small white moth/butterfly on or near your flowers. Keep an eye out for other pests/diseases such as aphids (use insecticidal soap or Dr. Earth Insect Killer) or powdery mildew (use Serenade).

Sun

Pay attention to the amount of sun the area will receive – often baskets hang under eaves or in areas that may be shaded although they appear to be in sun; some areas in full sun also receive radiant heat from fences, decks or siding – special consideration needs to be made for hot-dry conditions (Ivy geraniums, purslane). Combinations for sun need at least 6 hours, part sun 4-6 hours, shade is less than 4 hours.

The larger the hanging basket container the easier it is to care for and keep watered; also the type of container it is planted in can make a difference. Plastic pots hold water the best while wire frames with moss or coco liners tend to dry out more quickly. A 12-14” diameter basket will be lush and full of color but if you can install a strong hook for hanging a heavy basket, in this case bigger is better!
Putting out flowering hanging baskets is one of the spring rituals I look forward to each year. Front porches, decks and patios all over the neighborhood slowly come alive with color as we all embrace the warming weather and spend more time outdoors.

The large containers by my front stairs got a spring makeover in mid-March followed by my window boxes and porch railing planters which I replanted this last weekend with early-season arrivals: geraniums, bacopa, etc. My front flower beds are looking bright and cheery with blooming bulbs and pansies planted late last fall so I will wait a few more weeks to replace them with summer blooming annuals.

Hanging baskets of flowers are now beginning to show up at the garden centers – they are just the right thing to add to the front porch for instant pizazz! If properly cared for and fertilized a hanging basket purchased now can offer months of color and enjoyment; here are a few of my best tips for success:

Water

A consistent watering schedule is the key to plant health; watering needs will increase as the plants grow and weather warms up. By mid-summer most baskets will need daily watering if not more than once a day. Check the weight of the basket to determine if it needs watering. If you plan to be gone for a few days it is best to have someone take care of your basket – see if a neighbor will keep it for a while. If there is no one to care for it, take it down from its hook, water it and place it in the shade while you are gone.

Fertilize

We recommend a time-release or slow release fertilizer be added to the soil in the basket as soon as you take it home: Osmocote is a long-lasting, reliable food that lasts for 4 months. In addition, liquid feed with SuperBloom every 10-14 days for best performance.

Deadhead

Some varieties of flowers do not need their spent blooms removed to keep blooming (Calibrachoa/ Million Bells are ‘self-cleaning’) but many do and most baskets look better when this is done. Be sure to deadhead and examine baskets weekly to keep plants clean and healthy.

Protect

From bud worms and caterpillars with Captain Jack’s Dead Bug; spray when you see a small white moth/butterfly on or near your flowers. Keep an eye out for other pests/diseases such as aphids (use insecticidal soap or Dr. Earth Insect Killer) or powdery mildew (use Serenade).

Sun

Pay attention to the amount of sun the area will receive – often baskets hang under eaves or in areas that may be shaded although they appear to be in sun; some areas in full sun also receive radiant heat from fences, decks or siding – special consideration needs to be made for hot-dry conditions (Ivy geraniums, purslane). Combinations for sun need at least 6 hours, part sun 4-6 hours, shade is less than 4 hours.

The larger the hanging basket container the easier it is to care for and keep watered; also the type of container it is planted in can make a difference. Plastic pots hold water the best while wire frames with moss or coco liners tend to dry out more quickly. A 12-14” diameter basket will be lush and full of color but if you can install a strong hook for hanging a heavy basket, in this case bigger is better!

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