Nystrom's Nursery
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Hanging Basket Care

By Neil Peterson

Last Updated Apr 25, 2012 4:35:09 PM

Ok, so you've eyeballed and purchased the hanging basket of your dreams. You promise yourself that this is the year it will still look great in August. Super. Commitment is the first step that will ensure the basket holds up, now the actual plan.

Annuals are gluttons. They love water, fertilizer, and (most of them) sun. These three factors are where all the success is rooted. Typically, water and fertilizer are where most people get hung up.

I often say "annuals are like the family dog". You don't leave the dog outside for three days without water...don't do it to plants either! If temperatures are 80° or higher, a basket in the sun requires  three to four quarts of water a day. It only takes drying out really hard once or twice to fry a basket. Optimally, water your basket when it weighs around seven pounds (think of a bag of potatoes or oranges) and in the morning or evening. If you water at the same time daily, the plant will dry out consistently and never be overly stressed for water. The opposite is true as well, if it's damp and in the 50s, check the weight of the basket-it may not need water.

Fertilizing is the other major component of success. Annuals grow a tremendous amount in a short time in a constricted space-they love to be fed. I recommend using a balanced fertilizer, such as 20-20-20, weakly four times a week, or heavily twice a week [a weak solution would be 1 1/2 teaspoons to a gallon, strong would be a tablespoon to a gallon]. THIS IS WHERE THE MAJOR CAVEAT LIES: make sure when you fertilize, water leaches from the bottom of the container! Fertilizers are soluble salts-if they are allowed to build up in the soil, your pretty flowers are as good as compost!  

If you treat your baskets with care, they will perform extremely well until frost. Anything above negligence, and they'll reward you back with hundreds of flowers.