Hanging Basket Maintenance

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Your flowering hanging baskets can bloom and thrive for many months – with a little help from you. Follow these easy guidelines to keep your plants healthy and beautiful throughout the season.

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:
Most flowering hanging baskets will tolerate a wide range of light conditions, though some will balk at heat and all-day sunlight or dim all-day shade. Match your plant with its light location for best results.

  • Ivy and zonal geraniums tolerate the brightest conditions and an occasional drying out
  • Petunias also do well in sunny locations.
  • Impatiens and begonias do best in shade.
  • Fuchsia does best in a spot that gets some shade during the middle of the day.

WATER BEFORE WILTING:
Don’t wait for wilting as your cue to water! Flowering plants do best if you never allow them to wilt. Take extra care with watering since hanging plants dry out faster than garden plants, because they’re exposed to more wind and warmer temperatures.

Under average conditions, flowering plants in 10-inch diameter hanging baskets use 16 to 32 fluid ounces of water per day. With proper watering, the plants should last 2 to 4 days between waterings.

Be sure to water thoroughly. If the basket dries out, the soil may shrink and allow the water to quickly run out the drain hole, fooling you into thinking it’s thoroughly watered when, if fact, the water is bypassing the roots. Make sure the basket becomes heavy with water, about 7 to 9 pounds. You may need to re-water the basket again in 15 minutes, or soak it in a bucket of water for 5 to 10 minutes to thoroughly moisten the soil.

FERTILIZE WHEN NEEDED:
Even if you’ve never allowed them to wilt, your plants may develop yellow leaves and flower poorly, which can indicate a need for fertilizer. Add 1 or 2 teaspoons per gallon of water-soluble fertilizer into the watering can every two weeks and your baskets should stay green and flowering. We recommend Garden Elements Bud & Bloom Water Soluble Fertilizer.

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You can also use plastic-coated slow-release fertilizer beads available from some greenhouses and garden centers. We recommend Osmocote Smart Release Plant Food. Apply one to two tablespoons to the soil surface at the start of the summer to last all season long.  Keep in mind that if a little fertilizer is good, a lot is NOT better. Too much fertilizer can burn roots and damage plants. 

CLEAN UP YOUR PLANTS:
With proper watering and fertilizing, your basket plants will flower so much that you may need to remove dead flowers and seed pods. This helps keep the plant looking its best—and is a nice way to relax after a long day, which is what gardening is all about.

PLANT FOR VACATION SURVIVAL:
Don’t forget your flowering hang-ups when you go on vacation. If you can’t get a “plant-sitter” to water them for you while you are gone, take them down from their hangers and set them on the ground in the shade. With a thorough watering before you leave, most plants will last a week on the ground in a well-shaded location. Flowering may be reduced when you first rehang your plants, but they will soon return to their summer glory. If your plants get large and overgrown, right before you go on vacation is a good time to trim them back and remove some of the extra growth.

Provided by Michigan State University with the help of the Western Michigan Bedding Plant Association, Bedding Plants Foundation, the American Floral Endowment, and the Professional Plant Growers Association.