Who does not love to see sprawling petunias, smiling purple and yellow pansies or a burst of red geraniums in hanging baskets at their door, their favourite coffee shop or lining the streets of their hometown? Growing plants in hanging baskets adds beauty and design to any area. But with hanging baskets you must take extra care. If not properly assembled and placed, for sun or shade, many hanging gardens will never blossom or will dry out quickly.
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Things you need
- Metal basket (or plastic container)
- Potting soil
- Black plastic bags
- Cocoa mats
- Garden wire or twist ties
The first thing you will need is a metal basket. Metal is the most reliable because it will support the weight of the hanging basket's soil, plants and water. Though, for petunias, you can use 12-inch plastic containers. They are light and hold water. Then, buy a nice light potting soil that retains moisture and contains peat and perlite. Most potting soil comes in bags and is already moistened.
Decide what type and size basket you want for the area where it will hang. Generally, a container with a 10- to 12-inch diameter will be sufficient for petunias or two or three geraniums. Select plants in packs: bacopa, nemesia, alyssum, pansies, calendula, schizanthus, campanula, and snapdragons are all cool-season annuals that do well in hanging baskets. For a more permanent basket, consider succulents, low-growing perennials, or even ivy, but make certain that all the plants you use have the same feeding, growing and watering requirements.
Line the basket so that the soil doesn't fall out. There are pre-cut affordable cocoa mats available at most garden stores. They are easy to use and can look nearly as nice as sphagnum moss without being as drying. Or, if you choose, you can use a black plastic garbage bag to line the basket. Or combine the two. Find the centre of the bottom of the bag and cut out a large circle, roughly 5 inches across. Place the bag inside the cocoa mat-lined basket, making sure the drainage hole is open. As you add the soil, make certain the hole stays open for drainage. Secure the lining to the basket with wire or twist ties.
Settle the plant in and cover the roots with soil. For a 10- or 12-inch basket, use three 4-inch plants. For 14-inch baskets, use three or four plants. When planting, you want to leave room between the plant and the edge of the basket. For larger and deeper pots, plant layers of plants, with the ones that need the most water at the bottom, continue adding layers and soil until you come to within 3 inches of the top.
Remember that the plants will eventually grow and cover whatever you use as a liner.
Finish the basket by attaching the wire hanger to the top rim, spacing the hooks evenly around the rim of the basket. Make certain they are secure. Use a slow-release fertiliser, and then supplement that with a liquid fish or some other low-nitrogen fertiliser applied at one half strength each time you water. Lightly water the plants to settle them into the soil. They are now ready to hang and add months of colourful delight to your garden design. Remember, hanging baskets are heavy, and as they bloom, they grow even heavier, so make sure their weight is supported. Water every day in hot weather, every other day in cool weather and enjoy!
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Tips and warnings
- Feed your plants. Nitrogen is consistently needed by all plants. You can use any plant food to promote growth.
- Water your plants. No matter the size of the container, it is crucial to soak it at each watering. Water until it runs out of the bottom, that way the roots can grow properly. Remember that the more plants you crowd into a basket, the more often you'll need to water it.
- Pinch off the wilted flowers in order to divert the plant's energies from seed making to blossom producing. Annuals benefit greatly from this kind of grooming.
- Avoid fertiliser damage. Always water your container thoroughly before applying fertiliser to it.
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