Hanging Baskets: How to Keep Plants Lush – Gardening Tips
Hanging baskets are the decorative surprises everyone loves to give their mom for Mother’s Day. They are a great way to bring color and charm to any house. In addition, they add a pop of color that will stay all summer rather than die off in a few days.
The trouble with hanging baskets is that they can die out quickly too if not cared-for properly.
How do you keep them going all summer, if not longer?
There is so much plant material in a hanging basket relative to the amount of soil. Any hanging basket will have this problem, but the garden center baskets are especially bad at providing enough soil for longevity. This means the whole thing is going to dry out quickly and make watering a daily chore.
And if you forget to water it? Say goodbye to those red impatiens! But they really are beautiful – especially if you have a lovely front porch. It’s just screaming for a few hanging baskets lushly stuffed with green and bright flowers and trailing a vine or two.
Tips & Tricks to Help Your Hanging Baskets Thrive
There are a few tricks to making your baskets stay looking nice all summer – besides the watering.
Pick a Basket
Depending on what you want to plant, you might be able to find what you want already planted. Or you might find that you want to mix plants and create a custom look. Go for the biggest diameter basket that is deep in order to create the most soil volume. The bigger, the better.
The Material is Key
Many of these pre-made baskets are plastic or coco-fiber/moss. Sometimes you can find wood, ceramic, terra cotta or another type of basket, but really in order to get one of those you’d probably have to make it yourself.
Plastic retains moisture well, is inexpensive, and can be found in stores everywhere. Not to mention, much lighter than some of the other options. However, sometimes plastic looks cheap and you may not like the look of it.
Fiber or moss baskets are more decorative and have a certain look to them. They do dry out much faster than plastic, and the liner has to be replaced. They can also be harder to find. One way to cheat is by lining the fiber basket with plastic before you plant. Ceramic pots will retain water almost as well as a plastic one, wood, and terra cotta will dry out but not nearly as fast as fiber or moss.
Pick Your Plants
This can seem like a no-brainer. It could also be the most difficult concept in the world. Every gardener has been there. Beyond color and shape, what’s the most important thing to keep in mind?
Location, location, location.
Take a gander at your porch, or wherever you are going to hang this basket.
- Is it mostly in the sun or in the shade? 50/50?
- Is it a tropical plant that needs a lot of moisture?
- Is it a dry-loving plant that quickly gets drowned?
You will have the best luck by choosing plants that go with your environment. This is not to say that you should never try something different. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out; that little succulent just can’t handle all the rainy weather you’ve been having.
Some other considerations:
- Will your plant need deadheading all the livelong day?
- Is it drought tolerant or water-needy?
- Will it tolerate heat and the sun well?
- Will it need a lot of fertilizer?
Many gardeners do like to lavish their time nurturing their little plants. However,be realistic. If you don’t have the time, then a low-maintenance plant is more likely to look full and beautiful all summer and bring you joy when you see it rather than be a dying drag you wish you could do something about.
Building Your Hanging Basket
If you prefer to buy a pre-planted basket, don’t worry about this. They generally come with the correct type of soil. If you are choosing your own, you want to choose a light potting soil of good quality and replace it every year.
Here are the steps to maintaining a great-looking hanging basket through the season:
Water it. Fertilize it.
I know. That’s it? You could have thought of that on your own. But there are some specific rules for watering hanging baskets you might not have thought of. Container plants are notoriously hard to water the right way. Let me save you some time.
You can’t have the plant too wet or the roots will rot. You can’t have them too dry or they will wilt. What do you do?
- Make sure you have a pot with drainage
- Water until water comes out of the drainage holes
- Don’t allow your pot to sit in standing water (much like a potted indoor plant). This can be a problem for those of you who put a plastic liner in a fiber pot. Just make sure there are drainage holes poked through.
- Water your plant only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch.
- Plants need change over the course of the growing season. In low temperatures, they may need it infrequently – every 3-4 days. As they get larger and the temperatures get hotter, they may need to be watered every day. Smaller pots may need it twice a day, depending on how needy your plants are.
- The wind will make hanging plants dry out more quickly.
- Consider using a Rootwell’s Root Starter Sticks to irrigate your hanging plants at the root for a more effective watering system.
- Potted plants don’t have the ability to grab nutrients from down in the soil. You have to provide everything they need. A controlled-release fertilizer added just after you buy or plant your basket will give your plant all it needs all season long. Follow directions to avoid damaging your plants.
- After it starts to heat up and your plants are growing, adding a water-soluble fertilizer every few weeks will keep it looking healthy. A good dose of this after a heavy rain will help with the fertilizer being lost by all the flushing-out of a lot of water.
Hanging baskets are gorgeous, a perfect gift to give that special someone in your life, and a great way to add charm to your porch or yard. Take a few extra steps to ensure you have healthy plants all summer and enjoy the view every time you come home.