Hanging flower baskets and planters can be a beautiful and satisfying addition to your color garden. However, hanging basket depend completely on you to give them what they need to grow and to stay healthy.
Location, Location, Location!
Be sure to hang your baskets in the right location. For example, fuchsias and begonias like shade or partial shade. Petunias and geraniums flourish in full sun. Impatiens prefer a cool, partially sunlit location. Also ensure that your baskets are protected from strong winds.
Water – The Source of Life
Having a regular watering schedule is important to the health of your baskets. However, changing outdoor temperatures can change the way your basket should be watered dramatically. Early in the season, or during cool, overcast weather, your basket may only need water every couple days, where as in the heat of August, they may need to be watered twice a day! To check the moisture level in your hanging pots, just stick your finger in the soil in the middle of the pot. If the soil feels moist, wait to water until the soil feels dry. Eventually you can get the hang of testing how dry a basket is by simply lifting it up a little from the bottom to gauge the weight of the basket. Over watering can mean certain death to your baskets, especially in the early season, so allowing your pots to dry out between waterings will keep them free from root rot. When they are dry and ready to be watered, allow the water to fill the entire pot and run out the drain holes at the bottom to ensure there is water way down at the root level.
Fertilizer - Nutritious Food for your Plants
To keep your basket blooming all summer you should feed them with a flowering plant fertilizer designed to be mixed with water at least once a week. Follow the label directions carefully and use the directions for container plants. Do not make the solution stronger than the label recommends or you may burn the roots of your plants. Adding a granular slow-release fertilizer formulated for flowering plants should feed the basket for about three months. Check out our supply of top notch fertilizers at the Whistle Stop.
Keep Them Trim and Tidy
Keep dead flowers plucked off to increase your blooms. Trim off straggly and broken ends and generally keep the plant full and bushy, not “long and leggy." We recommend giving your pot a good “hair cut” at least a couple times during the growing season. If you are going on vacation for a week or two, it is a great time to trim baskets back about six inches. In a couple of weeks you will have a bushy plant with fresh, happy blooms. This works very well with plants like petunias, impatiens, alyssum, lobelia and calibrachoa. Warning - not every plant can be trimmed back drastically to renew it. Don’t cut back things like begonias and fuchsias. Instead, just dead head and pinch off the seed pods of these flowers. For some of the new and unusual plants in hanging baskets, ask the Whistle Stop staff if they can be trimmed back for renewal.
Avoid the Effects of Jack Frost
You can extend the beauty of your baskets for a month or so in the fall if you cover them or move them inside a garage or shed when frost is likely. You can use an old sheet or garbage bag to cover a basket on cold nights, but make sure to remove the cover shortly after sunrise the next morning so you don't bake them.