Hanging baskets dress up a bland porch or patio and add colour to landscaping and architecture. Hanging baskets can be used indoors for houseplants if there is adequate sunlight, but annual and perennial flowers and plants flourish in outdoor baskets. Plant the baskets when the weather is warm enough for the varieties of plants you have chosen to grow without adverse effects.
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Hanging baskets can be planted earlier than in-ground flower beds because the soil warms up faster and the baskets can be taken inside if there is danger of frost. Depending on the types of plants selected, baskets can be ready for planting by early spring if using hardy varieties. Tender plants require warmer temperatures and cannot tolerate frost, so if the baskets are exclusively for outdoor use, wait to plant them until early summer.
Large hanging baskets can contain a variety of plants, from bright trailing flowers to rich foliage. Choose plants with similar needs for water, sunlight and soil together in the same basket. Smaller baskets often look better with only one type of plant. Select plants based on where you plan to hang the baskets. Sun-loving plants such as petunias thrive on a south-facing porch, while impatiens and ferns brighten shady nooks with a northern exposure. Trailing plants and vines are especially effective in hanging baskets, draping and softening the lines as they tumble over the sides.
Hanging baskets are essentially overhead container gardens and are planted in much the same way. The pot or basket and its hook must be sturdy enough to handle the weight of the plants and the soil, and the design needs to provide drainage to avoid root problems in the plants. Fill the pot most of the way with a potting soil mix before placing the plants in the pot. Fill the rest of the way with soil after the plants are in place. Allow trailing plants to fall over the sides of the pot, and plant upright varieties at a 45-degree angle to form a more pleasing silhouette.
Care and Maintenance
Water the basket regularly, remembering that the limited amount of soil cannot retain moisture as well as an in-ground flower bed can. Lighter, more frequent watering may be necessary. Remove spent flowers and stalks to encourage new growth and maintain the beauty of the basket. As the weather becomes colder, it might be necessary to move the basket inside at night. Some plants can be repotted and kept indoors through the winter, then set out in baskets again in spring. Many plants, particularly annuals, last only one growing season and require replacement each year.
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