Some of us received beautiful hanging baskets as long ago as Mother’s Day. Keeping them fresh and flowering throughout our very changeable growing season here in the Lakes Region can be a challenge. As the heat and dryness of summer bears down on us, hanging baskets can start to decline. But with these basic techniques your baskets can look great all season long.
1. Water, water, water
Baskets can dry out quickly, and should be checked twice daily and watered every day; be sure to wet the moss sides as well. If you are seriously dedicated, once a week, take the basket down and soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes to hydrate the entire root ball.
Remove spent flowers, or deadheading, on a weekly basis, prevents plants from going to seed. This will encourage more flower production. Part of the beauty of the mixed basket is its prolonged and varied display.
3. Check for pests
During your weekly deadheading, keep a watchful eye out for aphids, whiteflies and other unfortunate pests. If you see any, try a quick spray of insecticidal soap to keep them from becoming problematic.
Not every plant in the basket will be at its peak all season. Cutting plants back after a flush of bloom will tidy them up and prepare them for a fresh crop of flowers. Meanwhile, other varieties will begin putting on a show. If the entire basket seems to be “flat lining”, go ahead and give the whole thing a trim. If you fertilize it heavily, in a couple of weeks it should be full of buds again.
Daily watering means nutrients can be leached out of the soil before the plants can absorb them. We like to use a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Grow once a week to keep plants thriving.
midsummer hanging baskets
During stretches of extreme heat, give your baskets a break and move them to a cooler, shaded spot to de-stress for a couple of days; likewise when heading on vacation. Your baskets will appreciate it.
Container gardening is one of the most popular ways to add interest and color to any outdoor space. The only rule you need to follow when creating your container garden is to be creative and enjoy it! At Miracle Farms we generally follow the Thriller, Filler, Spiller method when planting containers. This concept utilizes three different types of plants to create well-rounded combinations. Here’s how it works.
thrillers, fillers, spillers
• Thrillers are plants with height that add drama and a vertical element to the combination
• Thrillers can either be flowering or foliage plants or ornamental grasses
• Thrillers are generally put either in the center or at the back of the container
• Place it in the center of the container if it will be viewed from all sides
• Place it in the back of the container if it will be viewed from only one side
• Some examples are: angelonia, argyranthemum, grasses
Once you’ve chosen your Thriller, next start choosing your Filler varieties
• Fillers tend to be more rounded or mounded plants and make the container look full
• Fillers are generally placed in front of, or around, the Thriller variety
• Fillers should be placed midway between the edge of the container and the Thriller variety
• If the Thriller is in the center of the container, the Fillers should surround the Thriller variety
• Some examples are euphorbia, calibrachoa, and petunias
• Lastly, you add the Spillers
• Spillers are trailing plants that hang over the edge of the planter
• Spillers are placed close to the edge of the container
• If the container is going to be viewed from all sides, Spillers should be placed on all sides
• If the container is going to be viewed from only one side, Spillers should be placed in the front of the container
• Some examples are bacopa, lobularia, and sweet potato vine
use potting soil rich in organic matter
Feel free to plant containers full. You don’t need to go by the space requirements listed on the plant label because it’s not making a permanent home in your garden. Especially here in New Hampshire where are growing season is rather short, who wants to wait for a container to fill out? However, you will need to make sure you have enough space for the root zones. Use a well-draining, mixed potting soil that’s rich in organic matter. You can fill the container part way with a substitute fill material (we use empty plastic containers) to save on the cost of soil and to make the container lighter and easier to move. Most annuals will do very well with about 12 – 16” of soil. Remember to fertilize once a week as frequent watering of containers results in leaching of nutrients.