Photo: Matt Olson (flickr)
Hanging baskets are popular for use on decks, patios, and in small gardens, as they conserve surface space.
However, one needs the correct hardware to make sure that they hang securely, and also so that they can be easily and safely taken down to be watered and groomed. And if one side is in shade and one in sun, you must rotate them regularly. I have hit my head and watered myself many times when I have hung them too high, for example.
Baskets have limited rooting space so don’t over-plant initially, and wire ones need liners of moss or coconut fiber. Always choose lightweight pots that drain well, and avoid breakable terra-cotta and ceramic pots that are heavy as well as breakable and must be stored indoors in winter.
Select potting soil with time-release fertilizer when planting and then use water-soluable fertilizer about once a week during the growing season. During hot, dry spells submerge the baskets to soak once a week so they are regularly well hydrated.
Pinch off dead flowers and remove brown or leggy branches to promote new growth, especially on plants such as petunias. Plants like wave petunias are easy, as they re-bloom without deadheading. In high summer, prune plants back hard to stimulate new growth to rejuvenate the plants.
When heading out to buy plants for hanging baskets remind yourself of the old saying that one should include “a thriller, a filler, and a spiller.” At the nursery, hold the potted plants together in your hand to see if they are harmonious in terms of textures, forms, and colors, and be sure to buy plants with the same requirements for light and moisture if you are combining them.