Q. How do I keep my plants in a hanging basket flowering all summer?
Plants in hanging baskets dry out very easily and so may need to be watered frequently (possibly twice a day) in warmer weather. To cut down on the watering schedule, line the inside of the moss-lined basket with plastic prior to filling with media. This will help reduce moisture loss. There are also coir (coconut fiber) liners made with a plastic liner sandwiched between the coir. If you are using moss or coir fiber-lined baskets, you can plant through the sides of the basket. Planting through the sides works well if you want a completely full-looking basket and only want to use non-trailing types of plants. Plants such as wax begonia, pansies, alyssum, brachyscome or impatiens can be used. Wire baskets on the market today are plastic-coated for durability and rust proofing.
Planting the basket: To plant into the side walls, after you have lined the basket with moss (decorative side out) and inserted the liner (sturdy clear or black sheet plastic from a hardware store), use an ice pick or pointed tool to punch evenly spaced holes into the sides of the liner. Fill potting mixture into the bottom of the hole. Insert the plants (protect roots with a piece of plastic or paper; remove after inserting) though holes and cover roots with soil to the level where the next series of holes or slits will be cut through for more plants. Insert plants and finish off with potting mixture, planting the top last (you can use larger plants on top). Leave one inch between the top of the soil and the rim of the container. A layer of coir or moss on top of the potting mixture will act as a mulch to help with moisture retention.
After planting, place the container where it will hang, since it will be quite heavy, and water thoroughly all the way through the potting mixture, soaking thoroughly. Tip: Use a good-size container (at least 9-inch); a smaller container will need more watering. If by some chance your basket dries out, soak for 30 minutes early in the day. At the end of the season, remove the liner and soil to prolong the life of the basket. Store in a cool, dry place during the winter season.
Fertilizer is helpful for keeping the flower show extended through the season. You can use a slow-release granular fertilizer (such as Osmocote®) at the beginning of the growing season and once mid-season, or you can use a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. A fertilizer with NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, usually displayed in three numbers on the package) is necessary for full nutrition. Organic fertilizers are also available and supply good nutrition as well. Deadheading the flowers or cutting back the plant as needed through the growing season will also help keep the plants flowering and lush.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
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