Hanging basket care
Hanging baskets and containerized plants are beautiful! Keeping that way is easy with a few tips! Water as needed and check often. Watering is the single most important ingredient in maintaining your plants. Think of all plants as a car engine. We don’t add oil once a day or once a month on schedule. We add oil when the dipstick reads “low”. The plants and their soil will tell you, and your finger is the dipstick. If you stick your finger 2” down and the soil feels dry and the basket is light, it is time to water. If the basket is very dry you want to water it for a solid 5 seconds, if the water starts coming out the bottom of the basket don’t worry and don’t keep going if you’ve finished the 5 seconds. If you are concerned that it did not receive enough water, let it sit for about 15 minutes and then go back and check the soil. This will give the water time to soak in and settle, helping prevent over or under-watering. Once the basket/container is water, allow the plant to sit and let the soil dry out again – until the soil is dry and the basket/container is lighter. Overwatering will only occur if you don’t let the soil breathe (Dry out a little). If your plant is wilting and the basket is light, water is overdue. This is most common in hot and windy times of the year. Check your baskets/containers for water once a day, and during extreme heat, twice a day. Wilting can also occur from overwatering (Not allowing a little bit of dry time). Unfortunately, when a plant wilts from overwatering the problem is usually terminal as the wilting is caused by root and stem rot.
Fertilizing is also necessary. Pale leaves and reduced blooms are signs of an under fertilized plant. Follow the directions on the fertilizing product of your choice as each is different. Water-soluble is great for baskets and containers – we use it in our facilities for all of our annuals and perennials. However, water-soluble fertilizer must be used every watering to every other watering making it a lot more work. Slow-release fertilizer is a little less maintenance. When using slow-release fertilizer it is still a good idea to supplement with water-soluble fertilizer once every week or two to give the plant a boost.
If your plant becomes lanky or is not blooming as much in mid-summer, it can then be cut back by half its size. Now obviously if your plant is still quite small take its size into consideration. When cut back the new growth that comes will look great until fall or its next required pruning.
Wind and frost protection
Wind can cause your baskets to fall or become battered. If you know it will be a windy day, take your plant down and move to a more sheltered area. Protect your plants from frost. Most basket/container plants will not handle any frost. If you bring your baskets/containers into a building for those frosty nights, you can extend the life of your plants into the fall.