A hanging basket is a wonderful way to add charming color to your garden space. It adds a dimension of color up high where flowers are not usually found and can make a great focal point for a porch or patio. There are some specific needs of hanging baskets that are unique to the flower world, so we’ve put together some tips that will help you enjoy blooms all Summer long.
Water: Because of the large number of plants and the open nature of the baskets, they need frequent watering. Direct a gentle shower at the top of the basket and slowly soak until you see dribbles emerging from the very bottom of the basket. If it’s a moss-lined basket, give a quick shower around the sides too. This will ensure the entire root ball and all the moss are well-hydrated. Check daily for moistness by putting your finger an inch or two into the soil, if it feels wet at all then you can wait and check again the next day. If your basket is in the sun or part sun, you will probably need to water daily especially during the hot dry months of July and August. Preferably water in the morning, so the plants are prepared for the heat of the day. If your basket is in full shade it may need it slightly less often.
Fertilization: Annual blooming plants are big eaters. Feeding them will go a long way toward keeping them flowering and resistant to attacks from bugs. When your basket was planted, the designer added slow-release fertilizer to the soil, but, by the end of May, a lot of it has been flushed out with frequent watering. You can either mix more slow-release fertilizer (such as Nutri-gel) into the soil at the top, or use a water-soluble fertilizer for flowering annuals such as Ferti-lome Rooting and Blooming.
Trimming: We love petunias, sweet potato vine and geraniums for hanging baskets because they cover the whole basket with flowers and spread over the edges, but their spreading habit can get out of hand over time. Frequent mini-trims and pinching will keep the plants full and flowering. Every other week or so, simply pinch back the longer branches (taking no more than 1/3 of the foliage at a time) to tighten up the arrangement and encourage more branching and blooming.
Bugs: Insects such as aphids and white fly often visit blooming plants. If you spot these unwelcome guests among your flowers, first give the basket a good shower to knock back the population a bit, then apply Ferti-lome Triple Action according to directions on the bottle. This will help knock out unwanted insects as well as fungus and mites. (Note: a well-fed and well-watered basket is its own best defense against bug attacks, so careful attention to the first three tips will make this last one less necessary!)