There is nothing that adds more beauty and interest to a front porch, patio or backyard deck than beautiful hanging baskets – especially when you can keep them flowering big and beautiful all summer long!
If there is one issue that many gardeners face when growing their favorite flowers in hanging baskets, it is how to keep them healthy and strong from spring until fall.
For many, no matter how hard they try, the plants in their baskets that were once colorful and full of life in May and early June suddenly turn into a mass of dying foliage and fading blooms by July or August. One thing is for sure, it can be disheartening. And even more, quite costly too if you have to replace them!
But there is good news! With just a few simple tips, you really can keep your baskets booming and blooming all season long. Right into the heat of summer – and into late fall too. With that in mind, here are the four simple secrets to keep your hanging baskets gorgeous all season long.
4 Simple Secrets To Keep Your Hanging Baskets Flowering All Season
1) Start With Small Plants & Big Baskets!
If you want all season flower power, the first secret is to start small early on. Whatever you do, stay away from those incredibly large and beautiful early spring hanging baskets. The massive flowering baskets may look amazing, but all of that growth simply means they will never make it to mid-summer, let alone fall.
To get huge flowering baskets early in the season, growers plant indoors as early as November or December. This allows plants to develop big roots and blooms by early spring.
Unfortunately, those plants with big early blooms have already started to outgrow their containers. At the same time, they have also used most of the nutrients in the soil as well. All of that means that no matter how you care for the plants, the baskets simply won’t have lasting power.
The Keys To Success When Selecting Or Planting Hanging Baskets
If you purchase your hanging baskets, select ones that are just beginning to fill out their containers. These are the baskets you can grow slowly with proper care. Even better, by starting smaller, you can also get them to last all season long.
Although you want to look for smaller plants – you do want to select larger baskets. Stay away from hanging baskets that have smaller containers. There is simply not enough soil in small baskets to keep plants going all year. The same goes if you plant your own baskets at home.
Avoid using or purchasing 12″ to 14″ basket sizes. Instead, select ones at least 16″ to 18″ in diameter. These provide more room and depth for roots to grow all season long. And when planting your own, start with smaller plants too.
As an added bonus, with more roots in large baskets, the plants have more ability to soak up water and nutrients – which as you will see below, are both huge keys to success as well! Affiliate Product Link : 16 inch Metal Wire Round Hanging Basket Planters
2) Consistent Watering – How To Keep Hanging Baskets Flowering All Season
The quickest way to weaken a hanging basket plant is to water it inconsistently. And that includes not watering it often enough, or watering it too much.
Inconsistent watering puts stress on a plant’s roots, stems and foliage. When roots are either dry or waterlogged from too much water, they are unable to soak up nutrients. The result is a plant that struggles to produce new blooms and foliage.
Listen In Below To Our Podcast On How To Keep Your Hanging Baskets Blooming Big!
Get in the habit of watering your baskets at the same time every day. Not only does it help the plant with regular watering, it helps you remember to do it! The best time to water is in the early morning so plants can withstand the heat of the day.
One thing you don’t want to do is water your plants when they already have enough. Soggy roots can create major issues for potted plants. When roots become over-saturated, they are unable to absorb nutrients, leading to poor growth and eventual rotting out of the roots.
The best way to check if your baskets need water is to use the tip of your finger or an inexpensive moisture meter. If your finger can go down in the soil and come out dry, it’s time to water. Moisture meters have a long probe that make checking moisture down deep in the roots quick and easy. Product Link : Soil Moisture Meter
As baskets grow larger in mid-summer, they will need more water. Not only does it usually get warmer as summer hits full stride, but the roots and plants are bigger and require more water to keep them healthy and strong. When this occurs, it is best to water once in the morning and again in the early evening.
3) Fertilizing Slow & Steady – How To Keep Hanging Baskets Flowering All Season
Hanging baskets, as like any flowers planted in a container, have limited soil fertility. Even when you use the best planting mix, it will eventually run out of power. Because of that, fertilizing your baskets on a regular basis is a major key to keep them thriving.
But it is how and when you apply fertilizer that is the biggest secret of all when it comes to long-term success. If you apply fertilizer in heavy doses, not only will it grow plants too quickly, it can create more foliage than blooms. The end result is an oversized plant that is finished by mid-summer.
The key is to apply a lighter (weaker) dose more often. The best way to fertilize is every ten to fourteen days with a steady slow feed of nutrients. This can be best be accomplished with a liquid feeding of an organic fertilizer, or using liquid compost tea or worm casting tea. See: How To Make And Use Compost Tea – The Perfect All-Natural Fertilizer!
If you are using a commercial liquid fertilizer, mix at 1/4 to 1/2 of the recommended strength to apply every 10 to 14 days. This supplies a slow dose without pumping up the plants too quickly. Affiliate Product Link: Performance Organics Liquid Fertilizer Mix
The Two Fold Fertilizing Approach
We use a two-fold approach to fertilizing with our baskets – and it works like a charm! In addition to the regular feeding with a liquid fertilizer, we also apply a 1/4 cup of worm castings to the top level of the basket’s soil every month.
Worm castings are the perfect slow release fertilizer. Every time you water, the nutrients leach down through the soil and are absorbed by the roots. The one-two punch of worm castings and liquid fertilizer will have your baskets healthy, strong and blooming big deep into summer and early fall!
4) Deadheading Your Plants – How To Keep Hanging Baskets Flowering All Season
Finally, to keep your plants flowering, deadheading is a must! As blooms fade on your plant, take the time to remove them so new buds and blooms can take their place. Old blooms continue to take energy from the plant, but when removed that energy is then spent on producing even more flowers.
The more you deadhead, the more blooms you will have. Here is to getting the most from your hanging baskets this year and enjoying them all summer long! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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