Your flowering-hanging basket can bloom and thrive for many months – with a little help from you. Follow these easy guidelines to keep your plants healthy and beautiful throughout the season.
IS THE LIGHT RIGHT?
Most flowering hanging baskets will tolerate a wide range of light conditions, though some will balk at the heat and drying of all-day sunlight or the dimness of all-day shade. Match your plant with its light location for best results.
- Ivy and zonal geraniums tolerate the brightest conditions and an occasional drying out.
- Petunias also appreciate a sunny location
- Impatiens and begonias keep the shadiest spots bright.
- Fuchsias do best in a spot that gets some shade during the middle of the day.
WATER BEFORE WILTING
Do not wait for wilting as you cue to water! Flowering plants do best if you never allow them to wilt. Take extra care with watering, since hanging baskets dry out faster than garden plants, because they are exposed to more wind and warmer temperatures.
Under average conditions, flowering plants in 10-inch diameter hanging baskets use 16 to 32 fluid ounces of water per day. With proper watering, the plants should last 2 to 4 days between waterings.
Be sure to water thoroughly. If the basket dries out, the soil may shrink and allow water to quickly run out the drain holes, fooling you into thinking it is thoroughly watered when, in fact, the water is bypassing the roots. Make sure the basket becomes heavy with water, about 7 to 9 pounds. You may need to re-water the basket again in 15 minutes – or soak it in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes to thoroughly moisten the soil.
FERTILIZE WHEN NEEDED
Even if you have never allowed them to wilt, your plants may develop yellow leaves and poor flowering, which can indicate a need for fertilizer. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons per gallon of a water-soluble fertilizer that has 15 to 20% nitrogen, into the watering can every two weeks and your baskets should stay green and flowering.
You can also use plastic-coated, slow-release fertilizer beads, available from some greenhouses and garden centers. Apply one to two tablespoons to the soil surface at the start of the summer to last all season long.
Keep in mind that if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is NOT better. Too much fertilizer can burn roots and damage plants. Ask someone at your local garden center or greenhouse for help and invest in a little fertilizer to keep your plants flowering.
CLEAN UP YOUR PLANTS
With proper watering and fertilizing, your basket plants will flower so much that you may need to remove dead flowers and seedpods. This helps keep the plant looking its best – and is a nice way to relax after a long day, which is what gardening is all about.
PLAN FOR VACATION SURVIVAL
Do not forget your flowering hang-ups when you go on vacation. If you can’t get a “plant-setter” to water them while you are gone, take them down from their hangers and set them on the ground in the shade. With a thorough watering before you leave, most plants will last a week on the ground in a well-shaded location. Flowering may be reduced when you first rehang you plants, but they will soon return to their summer glory.
If your plants get large and overgrown, right before you go on vacation is a good time to trim them back and remove some of the extra growth.