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LET’S TALK GARDENING – Caring for Annual Flowering Hanging Baskets

By Doug Hensel
Doug's Blog

TIPS ON KEEPING YOUR FLOWERING HANGING BASKETS THRIVING AND BLOOMING FOR MONTHS

Over the past six weeks, so many of you came into the garden center to purchase a beautiful, flowering hanging basket. I give a shout-out to our buyer, Kathy Madsen, for keeping up with the demand and keeping us in stock as we were selling thousands weekly.

Now that all these flowering baskets have found their forever home, they now need a little help from you to keep growing and blooming. Here are just a few easy tips to keep your plants healthy and beautiful throughout the summer.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOCATION

Remember the golden rule, IT IS ALL ABOUT LOCATION! Is the location and light right for your flowering hanging basket? Yes, most flowering hanging baskets, such as Lantana, Petunia, Angelonia, Scaevola, Geranium, Portulaca, and Calibrachoa are all sun lovers—meaning that they need a least six to eight hours of direct sunlight to do well. Granted, most flowering hanging baskets will tolerate a wide range of light conditions.

Varieties such as Impatiens, Fuchsias, Begonias, and Torenias would benefit from some cool shade, especially protection from the hot afternoon sun.

WATERING

You need to learn when your hanging basket needs water. I like to use my index finger and stick it down into the soil to feel for moisture. I have two flowering 10” baskets—a basket with a mix of colorful Calibrachoa and a Geranium. A good rule of thumb when it comes to watering is DON’T WAIT FOR THE PLANTS TO WILT!

Be smart and diligent when it comes to watering. Flowering plants do best if you never allow them to wilt. Take extra care with watering, since hanging baskets dry out faster than ones planted in the ground because they are exposed to more wind and warmer temperatures. Be sure to water thoroughly. With proper watering, hanging baskets should last 2 to 4 days between waterings. But, again, use your finger to feel for moisture.

The best time to water is early in the morning—before the heat of the day. Watering at night is not the best time. With watering at night the leaves stay wet for hours becoming vulnerable to fungal development.

FERTILIZING

Producing flowers takes a lot of energy from the plant. It only makes sense that we need to help the plants to restore that energy. And, that comes with fertilizing. Yellowing of leaves and poor flowering performance are the two main indicators that your hanging baskets need fertilizing.

There are many good forms of fertilizers—liquid and granular. My advice here is to read the label and apply the chosen fertilizer according to the directions. Keep in mind that if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is NOT better. Too much fertilizer can burn roots and damage the hanging basket.

DEAD-HEADING

Cleaning up the spent, dead blooms and doing a little pruning will encourage new growth and more blooms. By dead-heading, this helps keep the hanging basket looking its best. You will want to deadhead regularly. This will keep the flowering plant from forming seed pods.

VACATION

Now that Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, more people are feeling comfortable about traveling and leaving home for a few days. How can I keep my flowering hanging basket alive in my absence? Maybe a neighbor or a relative can come over and do some watering. You may want to consider taking down the flowering hanging basket and sit on the ground instead of being up in the air. This will slow down the drying-out process. Before leaving, be sure to water the baskets thoroughly. Also, before leaving on vacation, this may be a good time to give your flowering baskets a “hair cut” especially if they have become leggy and overgrown.

Enjoy these beauties. Beautiful blooming hanging baskets add a lot of color to any landscape, patio, porch, or deck.

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