I am going to teach and show you how to have healthy hanging baskets. A few years back, I was visiting a small town in the Pacific Northwest. The town was a touristy town, and as we walked down the quaint Main Street of the town, I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous hanging baskets that lined the streets. I stopped at a corner to examine one of the lovely baskets. It was huge, about 3 feet across, and overflowing with a cascade of lovely petunias. I lifted the petunia cascade to examine the underside of the basket when a town employee walked by. He chided me on performing such an up close and personal exam under that basket. I laughingly told him that I was a doctor and had a license to conduct that exam. I then complimented him on how beautiful the basket was and expressed the desire to grow baskets as big and lovely as the one I had been examining.
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Those baskets inspired me to grow my own hanging baskets just as big and lovely as the one on that street. I started small and made lots of mistakes along the way. I over-watered my baskets and caused them to give me lots of greenery and not many flowers. I under-watered them and had chronically wilted baskets. I overfed them, underfed them, and after several attempts, I now have beautiful baskets that I enjoy all summer long.
My baskets are huge, 21-inches across. I recommend you start with smaller baskets, about 12 – 14-inches across. I like the cocoa baskets with the chain supports. The chains will last for 8-10 years, and you will need to replace the cocoa basket every few years. You can find them here.
What should you put in them? My SIS (simple is smart) choice. Buy a small, inexpensive patio pot or basket and repot it into your bigger cocoa hanging basket. I purchase my plants from a reputable garden center, nursery or grow them myself. I have had limited luck with plants from chain stores. Home Depot, Loews, or the grocery store, to name a few. These plants have been subjected to stressed conditions and often have a disease and insect infestations that reveal themselves after getting the plant home. If the plants I buy are not from a reputable garden center, I quarantine it for a week, so it doesn’t infect my other plants.
If you buy individual plants, three plants are enough for a 12-14 inch planter. Look for plants that have a trailing habit, such as a wave petunia. I pick three different plants that complement each other in color and size when fully grown. A good combination is one petunia, one verbena, and one calibrachoa (million bells.
Rx for Creating and Planting Your Own Healthy, Heavenly, Hanging Basket:
1. Line the new cocoa basket planter with some moistened potting mix. ( I use a professional-grower, organic potting mix from a local nursery.) If you need a smaller amount, Dr. Earth makes a good potting mix.
2. Add a generous amount of slow-release fertilizer, about 1/2 cup for a 12 to the 14-inch basket. I like Dr. Earth Organic bloom booster slow-release fertilizer.
3. Remove the purchased plants from their pot.
4. If you purchased a patio pot or smaller basket, put the whole plant into the new cocoa basket.
5. Add enough potting mix to fill the larger hanging basket.
6. Water the basket well.
7. Hang your basket in a prominent place where you can see and enjoy it throughout the summer.
8. Now, that is how to have a healthy hanging basket.
Alternate Rx method:
1. If you purchased three smaller individual plants, fill the cocoa basket with the potting mix that you added slow-release fertilizer.
2. Remove the plants from their containers and plant them in the basket.
3. Water and wait for the plants to grow and fill the basket in the coming weeks.
Consistent watering is how to keep your basket happy. I put my basket on a drip system and attached the drippers to a timer. The size of the basket and daytime temperatures determine how often and how long to water the basket. I let the basket dry out a bit between watering. It is normal to have some wilting of the flowers during the hottest part of a summer day. However, if the wilting persists into the cooler evening hours, it is time to water your basket.
Water the basket just long enough for water to start to drip out of the bottom of the basket. You don’t want a river flowing from the bottom of the basket.
For information on how to set up a drip irrigation system for your hanging baskets or patio pots, visit my blog, “How to set up a drip irrigation system.”
Have fun creating your hanging basket. Pop on over to my social media sites and share a picture of your hanging basket. Also, on my social media sites, you’ll find exclusive Doctor Jo’s daily pictures of what’s new in my gardens or what new recipe I’m creating in my kitchen. Make sure you click the like button, share, and subscribe. I love your comments, so let me know what you think.