Use these tips to keep hanging baskets blooming all summer long
What is the difference between a hanging basket that looks beautiful all growing season and one that fades away with sparse, dead looking blooms? We will look carefully at this question in hopes of improving the length of time we can enjoy our baskets this summer.
So, you go to the greenhouse or stores around town and purchase a beautiful hanging basket to put up at your home. Initially they are in full bloom and look gorgeous. After a couple of weeks you notice they do not look as great and when you first purchased them, and now the basket looks flat and dry with fewer blooms.
If purchased from a greenhouse, the hanging basket needs to harden off outside and not be exposed to bright sunlight or it will burn the leaves. Place the plant in a semi-sunny area and let it acclimate to your yard. After a few days your new plant can take more sun gradually. If you are like me, you get excited to get it out and place it in the sun too soon and cook the tender greenhouse leaves; been there and have done that more than once.
It cannot be stated enough that watering regularly — and with the current heat, daily — is a must. The size of your basket and the number of plants in the basket determine how thirsty your plant will be. You want to water until you see water coming out the bottom of the pot. Dedication is the key and you are responsible for keeping this plant basket alive. Early in the morning is best so the plants can tolerate the heat of the day. If you find this too labor intensive, you can always purchase an automatic watering system, which are widely available now and easy to set up. This system is ideal for the person who is traveling a lot on the weekends and not available to care for their plants while away.
Snip off dead flowers or “deadhead the old blooms” every couple of days to keep your plant energized to bloom. This is very important and if not done your plant will start to dwindle to looking old and tired. Every place you deadhead splits and will now make two flowers. You can also prune back any lanky looking blooms that look sparse. Cutting back the branches forces the plant to make more blooms and leaves below the cut. There are some flower varieties that continue to bloom without deadheading. Be sure and ask your nursery personnel what your particular plant requires.
Add a water-soluble fertilizer to your basket every two weeks as the nutrients are washed out from watering and need to be replaced. Use a fertilizer that has a high middle number or high phosphorous to encourage blooming. There are many super bloom formulas and what a difference they make! Give them a try but don’t overdo it. Follow the directions carefully on the container.
Some plants prefer a partly shady area and last so much longer than in full sun. Be sure and ask at the greenhouse before purchasing the type of conditions your particular plant prefers.
Planning ahead is the best way to ensure that your beautiful hanging baskets thrive throughout the season. Flowers in the yard are so worth the effort and show a pride of ownership to your landscape. Enjoy your summer and beautiful baskets and remember to stay calm and garden on.
Chris Wood is a certified master gardener from Eagle River. Write to her at [email protected]