By Lisa Rapalus/ Buyer
Colorful hanging baskets are a staple for gracing our porches and patios during the summer months. Although they are an instant way to add color and pizzazz to our outdoor spaces, they do require a bit of care to stay looking good all season long. I get my mom a couple hanging baskets from Shorty’s for Mothers’ Day every year and they still look amazing in October because she diligently follows the tips below:
Proper watering is probably the most important factor in hanging basket care. There are a lot of plants contained within a relatively small soil volume which means baskets can dry out very quickly on hot summer days. Alternatively, if your basket doesn’t have proper drainage and is watered too much it can suffer also.
- Make sure your basket has drain holes and they are not clogged.
- Water thoroughly when top surface feels dry and/or the weight of the basket feels light compared to just after watering.
- Water until the excess starts coming out of the drain holes.
- During cool moist conditions baskets may only need watering 1-2 times per week.
- During hot / windy conditions it is not unusual for baskets to need water twice per day.
- If your basket is hung under eaves or a covered porch, don’t forget to check it even on rainy days.
Just as all those plants in a small soil volume compete for water, they also compete for nutrients, so properly fertilizing baskets is crucial for success.
- When first bringing a basket home, add a slow release granular fertilizer such as Osmocote. Every time the basket is watered more nutrients are released for the plants to utilize.
- Usually by mid-summer baskets have used up most of the slow release fertilizer and the plant volume has increased too. At this point they will benefit from a water soluble fertilizer once per week.
Cleaning / Haircuts
One of the reasons my mom’s baskets look so good for so long is that she deadheads them daily and gives them 1-2 haircuts per season. Petunias and verbena in particular need to have their spent blooms removed to stay looking their best. Often by mid-summer baskets can start to have a leggy open appearance. By giving them a good haircut (remove 1-2 inches all over), the baskets will be invigorated with more branching and flowers long term. You may lose a few blooms at first, but will reap the rewards a couple weeks later when your baskets once again look full and beautiful!