Hanging baskets are a beautiful addition to any porch, patio, or garden. The densely-packed blossoms are vibrant and cheerful, adding a pop of color to your outdoor spaces. They also help feed our pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. But after a month or two, they can start to look a little worse for wear.
Keeping your hanging baskets beautiful all summer long is pretty simple, but it does require some regular maintenance. Hanging baskets need lots of water, regular fertilizer, and believe it or not, pruning. A few snips here and there every couple of weeks will keep them looking fresh and full.
Watering Your Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets are stuffed with plants, which means there is not much soil in the pot. They are also often high up in the air, exposed to the sun and wind, which makes them dry out quickly. Fiber baskets dry out even quicker than plastic ones.
Your hanging baskets should be watered every day through our Greenville summers. On the hottest days of the year, you may need to water them twice a day. You can gauge this by how heavy they feel, and if the basket feels light, water it.
Even if it rains, you’ll still need to water your hanging baskets. On a rainy day, they won’t dry out as fast, but the rain doesn’t get into the pot very easily. The massive amounts of foliage and flowers in a hanging basket means most of the rain runs off without it ever reaching the soil.
A watering wand on your hose is probably the easiest way to water hanging baskets. If the basket is really light, give it a little bit at a time until it feels quite heavy, and water is running out of the drainage holes. Another way to water hanging baskets is to take them down and set them in a full pail of water, or a kid’s play pool full of water. Let them soak until they feel heavy again.
Fertilizing Your Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets are just as hungry as they are thirsty. Since there is very little soil in your baskets, your plants will use up all the soil nutrients very quickly. Profusely blooming plants need lots of nutrients to keep producing all those beautiful flowers, so fertilizing is vital for keeping your hanging baskets looking their best all summer. Most liquid soluble fertilizers will work just fine; think the blue stuff.
Fertilize your hanging baskets every other week. Make sure to mix the fertilizer according to the package directions. Apply fertilizer when the soil in the pots is damp; otherwise, it could burn the roots.
A couple of months after you take your hanging basket home, it could start running low on micronutrients. These are elements needed by plants in very small portions. Too much or too little can cause a variety of leaf discolorations or poor growth. Portulaca needs a periodic dose of trace amounts of Epsom salt in order to keep leaves from purpling. If you suspect micronutrient deficiency, look for a fertilizer with micronutrients included. Most fertilizers do not have the total package, so read the labels carefully.
Pruning Your Hanging Baskets
If your baskets have tons of blooms hanging over the sides, but they’re starting to look a little flat on top, do a little rejuvenation pruning. You can safely take off about ⅓ of each plant, so aim to prune off whatever is hanging down. Pruning will encourage the plant to bush out more and should help it fill in around the top again. You can either do a weekly rejuvenation pruning by clipping past-prime plant material, or you can do a more intensive biweekly pruning by taking off up to ⅓ of the plant’s foliage and blossoms.
Deadheading also encourages more blooming, so pinch or snip off spent blooms whenever you walk by. This will keep the plant looking its best and encourage the plant to flower for longer.
Hanging baskets do require a bit more maintenance than other types of planters. However, with the amount of color payoff they give your garden design, it’s always worth the extra few minutes per day!