The Richmond Register

May 8, 2013

Taking good care of hanging baskets

Plants

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

RICHMOND — Trying to think of a nice mother’s day gift? You might try giving a hanging basket. They add a touch of warmth and beauty to any environment in which they are displayed. But they do need to be maintained to keep looking beautiful throughout the summer.

The first and most crucial consideration is location. Be sure the plants in the basket are compatible with the quality of light you will be placing them in. Some plants need full sun, others partial sun and some can grow in the shade. Placing a plant in an environment with the wrong type of light could spell trouble for the health of the plant.

Another consideration is providing the proper nutrition for the plants. The warm temperatures of summer can be hard on blooming plants.

There are many good fertilizers. Look for one that has a higher "middle number" on the package such as “15-30-10.”

How often you fertilize depends on the form you use. There are timed release formulas which can be applied only once per season and formulas meant to be used every time you water. Just read the label on the fertilizer you choose, it should have instructions for use.

Hanging baskets also need to be frequently watered. How often they need to be watered depends on how much shade and rainfall they receive. Some baskets need water every day or every other day, while others might need water only every three to four days.

Check soil moisture once or twice a day to a depth of several inches with your finger. Regardless of how often you water a hanging basket, be sure to do so thoroughly. This means watering until you see excess water dripping from drainage holes. Placing the container down on the ground to water is a more efficient method than trying to water a moving target and "guessing" if it's watered well.

Make it a daily habit to check for spent blooms, broken stems or any signs of pests or disease. You can rejuvenate hanging baskets by cutting back leggy plants. Pruning one-third to one-half the stem length will force new growth, causing plants to branch out more and flower again. Adequate fertility is critical in this situation because removing stems eliminates nutrients stored in plant tissues.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.