How happy are your hanging baskets?

We all love them. Whenever we’re walking up to someone’s front door and are presented with a couple of colourful hanging baskets with the most exquisite smell coming from them, we make a mental note to go home and start rigging up a couple of these gems for our own homes, coupled with plant troughs well placed on window sills, it makes for a very satisfying ambience.

And then we discover that all it not as straightforward as it seems. For instance, it’s very easy to kill off flowers and plants in a hanging basket due to the fact that soil and water are at a premium. It’s also easy to forget about them and let them grow wild so that visitors are confronted by a monstrosity rather than a pretty exhibit. If you have been preparing through spring to summer they should now be looking stunning.

Around the middle of June, with the weather heating up, you’re looking at watering the plants in your garden and hanging basket a little more often (it’s actually very difficult to overwater flowers although you’ll be able to tell if the leaves become yellow or the soil feels too soggy). This is because the plants have all grown pretty well since April and things are getting tight now in the soil in that basket. More plant roots mean less soil in which to store water. Regularly test the soil with your finger, you need to get a good feel for it, this isn’t the time for gardener’s gloves.

Early morning is the best time to water the flowers in your hanging baskets. This is when they can best absorb the water before the sun gets too much. It also means that they will have dried out by night when problems with mildew can arise. The lack of water might push wildlife away too.

Here are some other tips to keep your hanging baskets a riot of colours over the warmer summer months:

Maintenance tips for hanging baskets

  • Water and food are at a premium for hanging baskets come summer so put in some slow-release fertiliser. It’s also fine to add some liquid fertiliser if you feel a bit extra would help perk things up
  • It’s not a bad idea to add some compost or worm castings now and again. Get yourself a good hand fork and really work it.
  • Set up a watering system on an automatic timer. If you’re doing it by hand, water very slowly, a water spray bottle is ideal or a watering can with a fine rose head, they really need work and it’s handy (if you’re doing it by hand) to have a good water butt nearby. You can’t water them frequently enough in the hot summer.
  • If the flowers in your hanging basket are drooping a bit it’s probably very thirsty. Unhook it and set in a pail of water until it perks up again
  • Use good quality soil to begin with and prepare it well with quality garden hand tools. If you’re not sure about pH use a soil tester.
  • Good plants to use in your baskets are Verbena, Lantana, Impatiens, and Angelonia. This is because these flowers come in a variety of bright colours and are easy to care for.

When creating the baskets in the first place it’s a good idea to work upwards (ie put the plants in the bottom first) and once they’ve started blooming feel free to cut back (ie deadhead) to allow further blooms to flourish and to keep the basket looking symmetrical at both sides. Make sure you keep your secateurs sharpened.

Needless to say, ensure they are well fixed for the sake of any toddlers and when it comes to taking down your hanging baskets, desist from watering them for at least three days. This way they won’t have any water weighing them down and will be far easier to remove as well as saving you from a mucky job.

So, go on then. What are you waiting for? Start creating some lovely hanging blooms for yourself, it’ll soon be winter so take advantage before the weather sets in and really enjoy this summer.