Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hanging Basket Care

*****(Weather update, August 1st) Please note that some of these instructions are specific to the pacific northwest and the weather we have been experiencing this summer (rainy and cloudy). For the locals please note that temperatures are finally on the rise and we have been having clearer days so always check your basket in the morning to see if it is time to water. There are also general instructions that are great for all areas included in the blog below. Enjoy!

 We have been getting a lot of interest about care for your hanging baskets this year. The lack of sun and rainy weather has not been easy on plants or gardeners.  There are three key practices that are vital to having a goregous hanging basket through to the end of the season. Please note that these are general guidelines and you must make variations to this plan depending on the weather, where your basket is hanging and so on

WATERING: In our care information sheet we recommend 'watering every day during the hot summer months'. Please note that although we are in the 'summer month' of July it is not hot outside!! Therefore it is best to follow the 'early spring' instructions until the weather turns around. It is important to first test the weight of the basket before watering. Place your hand under the container and check the weight by lifting slightly; you will be able to tell whether your basket needs water or not. It is a good idea to check the weight of your basket right after a good watering so you know how it feels when the soil is full of water compared to when it is close to drying out. If it does need water, do so until the water flows freely from the drain holes on the bottom. It may appear that water is draining from the bottom but it could simply be water running off the side of the pot. Make sure the water is running out of the bottom of the container. When the weather is cool, cold and cloudy like today, you may not have to water your basket for three or four days... Then when the sun suddenly appears and its 30degrees you may even need to water your basket twice that day if it is in full sun. On the other hand, sometimes my basket in 'full shade' spots do not dry out even on a sunny day. Again, feel the weight of your basket to know for sure! 

The weather is changing constantly this summer and is cooler then most summers.  Just make sure that when we do get an unexpected 'scorcher' you check your baskets right away! Try to water in the mornings if possible as evening watering can put a basket to bed with wet foliage which can promote mildew.

FERTILIZING: Watering pulls the nutrients out of the soil so it is important to replace them with a fertilizer. Mix fertilizer (15-30-15) according to directions and feed your basket AFTER a good watering. The roots are open for drinking and will absorb the fertilizer much better. We recommend fertilizing 1-3 times a week depending on the weather and how much you are watering. Every second or third watering is a good way to go. If you want your baskets to have 'flower power' and to look as gorgeous as they did when they left the greenhouse you must feed them with fertilizer. 
Plants need nutrients to look healthy, just like people :)

 DEAD HEADING: After a flower has bloomed to its full potential it should be removed.  This will force the plant to produce another flower. Pinch the dead flower back to the main stem ensuring the removal of the seed pod. If a plant grows leggy or out of proportion to the rest of the basket, do not hesitate to trim it back into shape.   If this is done regularly your basket should flower until October or the first frost.   

I hope you find these tips helpful! Every year you will get to know your baskets more and more and find caring for them and determining their needs easier!