Hanging baskets are an attractive and practical way to add color, interest and beauty to outside areas, such as patios, decks and terraces. And since they can also be used inside, hanging baskets are extremely popular!
In the past, hanging baskets contained only one type of plant. But in recent years, mixed baskets have become very popular. This “instant garden” look appeals to beginner gardeners and longtime hobbyists alike.
Plastic hanging baskets are inexpensive, but may look uninteresting, so you may want to use moss and coco fiber to get a more appealing “organic” look. Plants in moss and coco baskets can dry out fast, too; therefore you may need to water more often, especially if the plants are large and in a drafty location.
If you are making your own moss or coco basket, insert a piece of plastic with holes in it for drainage. To retain a natural effect while helping hold moisture, you can put a black plastic liner inside the moss liner and poke holes in it. This will allow water to stay in the container longer.
Often called “potting soil,” the best potting mix does not contain any soil. Regular topsoil usually doesn’t have the qualities necessary to support good plant growth in containers, and it may contain diseases and weed seeds, as well.
A good potting or soilless mix is well-drained, aerated and holds moisture and nutrients well. Such mixes may contain peat, bark, perlite and vermiculite in various proportions. The pH of the mix (how acidic or alkaline it is) directly affects the plant’s ability to take up nutrients. Make sure you choose a mix in the 5.5 to 6.5 pH range.
Windy sites outside aren’t good for hanging baskets. The wind causes them to dry out faster and they may need more frequent watering. Dry soil can stress your plants and cause them to perform poorly.
For places that get four to 12 hours of sunlight per day, select plants for full sun to partial shade. For those that get two to four hours of early or late sunlight per day, select plants for partial to full shade.
Remember this rule: All plants combined in one basket must have similar water, light and nutrition requirements.
When you plant a hanging basket, fill the basket with potting mix to within a few inches of the rim. If your mix doesn’t contain nutrients, mix in some slow-release fertilizer. Be sure to follow label rates for the size container you’re using. If you’re mixing in a water-retaining agent, mix it with the media before you plant.
Select healthy, high-quality plants. Inspect the foliage and flowers for any signs of pests or diseases. Take plants from their pot and examine the root systems, which should be white and well-developed. Avoid root-bound plants.
Just a few examples of plants that are beautiful in hanging baskets are angel wing begonias, coleus, creeping zinnia, cypress vine, dusty miller, English ivy, fuchsia, gazania, ivy-leafed geraniums, impatiens, pansies, petunias, portulaca, marigolds, trailing lantana, sweet potato vine, scaveola, verbenas and vinca.
To keep your hanging plants growing and flowering, you have to supply plenty of water and nutrition all season. When plants are small, their water and nutrition needs are less. As the weather warms and plants grow, their water and nutritional requirements will increase.
Container-grown plants need fertilizing about once every other week when using a liquid plant food. Make sure the potting mix is moist. If dry, the fertilizer salts could damage the plant roots.
Regular deadheading (removing spent flowers) encourages new flowers to develop. Pruning and trimming stimulates new growth. Scout thoroughly and often for insect pests and diseases. Look closely at the flowers and foliage for pests and damaged, deformed or discolored leaves or flowers. You may have to part the foliage to examine the center of the plants closely.
Don’t stress your plants by improperly watering or fertilizing them. A stressed plant is more prone to diseases and pests. Planting healthy, high-quality plants is a good start, but to keep them robust and attractive, you also will need to provide the best growing conditions.