Success with Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets are a gardener’s treasure because they bring to a garden or patio that “wow” factor. Here are tips to make your baskets look fabulous and have staying power to last all summer.

1) THINK BIG. When it comes to growing plants in containers. The larger the pot, the better. A size of 12 inches or larger is suggested. Small pots are a chore to keep watered in warm weather and starting plants in roomy baskets will result in healthier root systems, less watering and will produce more flowers and lush foliage.

2) Use a QUALITY POTTING SOIL that is porous and reliable in its nutrient content for good growth and stamina. Ordinary garden soil has a tendency to settle and harden—a condition that stunts root growth. Garden soil may contain weed seeds, harmful spores or insect larvae.

3) SUN or SHADE basket? All the plants combined in one container should have similar light requirements. Plants in SUNNY baskets must receive direct sunlight for more than four hours a day. The more direct sun, the faster the plants will grow, and their performance is dependent on more frequent water and fertilizer.
SHADY plant baskets are those which receive four hours or less of direct sunlight. They are happy in bright but diffused light and partially shady locations. Deep shade can result in poor blooms and overall health. No shade plant performs well in full hot afternoon sun. See the list at the end of this article for plant suggestions.

4) COLOUR THEME = HIGH IMPACT. It’s the colour that catches the eye first and draws attention to the basket. Select only 2 or 3 colours either contrasting (colours like yellow and violet) or harmonious combinations (pink, purple and blue) including tints and hues of these colours and accent with silver, white or chartreuse. White or very pale flowers are more visible with night lighting, or in shady areas or against a dark background.

5) Think about FOLIAGE when you’re choosing plants for your creations. These add a bold or delicate texture to any combo with their interesting foliage hues and structure. A recommended ratio is 3 to 4 flowering plants to each foliage plant for balance. Texture will add spice to any design.

6) You want BEAUTY. Create an instant sensation by designing your basket to look beautiful right from the beginning. Use QUALITY, HEALTHY plants. Starting out with stressed or unhealthy plants can result in disaster. Choose ENOUGH plants to FILL OUT the container so that it doesn’t appear skimpy in comparison to the pot size. Use 7 to 13 plants depending on their size in a 12” pot.

7) To CREATE YOUR BASKET, first water all plants thoroughly. Fill the container with the potting soil so that when the plants are in place the soil surface will be 1.5 inches from the rim. Gently loosen the root ball of the plants if they are tightly wound mass so that the top of the root ball is at soil level. Water thoroughly when done.

8) Baskets are always HUNGRY. We recommend FEEDING EVERY TIME YOU WATER with half strength or one quarter strength water soluble fertilizer. (Caution: never fertilize a dry basket with full strength product.) Then, once plants are established, add a slow release pellet designed to feed all summer. It’s actually heat that causes the capsules to release their nutrients. As a result, plants get food when they need it most—during those hot summer days.

9) MOISTURE. When the basket needs water (the soil just beneath the surface feels dry ) gently DRENCH it! Then don’t water again until the basket is dry and feels light. If dried out completely, the plants will wilt, delay flowering or ultimately die. A constantly soaking wet basket will likely develop root rot. As you get to know your plants, you’ll develop a feel for how much water they’ll need. 

10) PINCH RUTHLESSLY while the young plants are soft and supple. PRUNING develops full and bushy plants and later when they are trailing over the basket’s edge it will result in a fullness and continuous bloom that is rarely seen.

11) DEAD FLOWERS always look bad. Regular GROOMING will keep the basket looking fresh and vibrant. Removing blossoms and leaves as they fade will not only keep the plants looking its best, the plant will continue to produce flowers instead of forming seeds.

Plant Suggestions for Shady Baskets

Less than 4 hours of direct sunlight

Center Plants

Non-stop Begonia
New Guinea Impatiens
Fuchsia (upright)

Filler Plants

Fibrous Begonia
Lobelia (upright)

Trailing Plants

Fuchsia (trailing)
Vinca Minor
Lobelia (trailing)
Spider plants
Asparagus Fern
Tuberous Begonia (trailing)

Plant Suggestions for Sunny Baskets

More than 4 hours of direct sunlight

Center Plants

Seed Geranium
Zonal Geranium
Dahlia (dwarf)
Marigold (10” dwarf)
Snapdragon (dwarf)
Dusty Miller

Filler Plants

Petunia (compact)
Marigold (dwarf)
Fibrous Begonia
Mesembryanthemum (ice plant)

Trailing Plants

Creeping Charlie (nepeta)
Lotus Vine
Lobelia (trailing)
Ivy Geranium
Verbena (trailing)
Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
Supertunia and Petunia
Green or Variegated Ivy
Silver Brocade (Artemesia)
Lysimachia (creeping jenny)
Dichondra (silver falls)
Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomea)
Potato Vine
Variegated Mint
Tagetes Marigold