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Hanging Baskets: Best plants & maintenance

By Sereba Agiobu-Kemmer   |   08 October 2016   |   5:45 am
Annuals for the sun, brightly mixed colors of portulacas

Annuals for the sun, brightly mixed colors of portulacas

Selecting the perfect plants for your hanging baskets can be a difficult process. Of course, you’d love flowers that are bright and colorful, but it is necessary to choose plants that are easy to maintain and does well with your environment. Hanging baskets are a terrific addition to any home. They add life and interest to living spaces bringing elegance and color to any home. Many are low maintenance, and they help to clean your indoor air. Each house is oriented a bit differently, has its own unique shade and sun characteristics, and your home geography also has a profound impact on what you can grow successfully. Because some plants can’t survive extremes, it is important to determine where the hanging baskets will be placed: in sun all day, or under a covered porch that is shady? Knowledge on weather conditions in relations to your property, especially the path of the sun, makes all the difference when hanging plants in baskets.

Are your baskets going to be in the sun all day, or are they going to hang under a covered porch that is shady? Some plant just can’t survive extremes.

Some possible choices, based on sun or shade tolerance: Full sun- lantana, portulaca, verbena, calibranchoa (common name a million bells), pertunia, bougainvillea, geranium.

Partial sun/shade- New Guinea impatiens, bacopa, gloriosq lilies.

Partial to full shade- begonia, coleus, impatiens, lobelia, sweet potato vine fuchsia, torenia (wishbone flower), fern, ivy, pothos (philodendron), spider plant (chlorophytum comosum) it has graceful leaves that cascade down like the leg of a daddy long e.g. spider. They come in solid green or variegated (with green and white stripes)

Adding netting over arbors, trellises or open area, if possible, to protect plants is a good idea. Netting allows sunlight to filter through and will prevent burning. At the very least, you can move plants around, temporarily to a shadier area to reduce stress.
Food and Water

Watering is the hardest and most crucial aspect of maintaining a hanging basket. Plants need to stay moist, especially in extreme heat wave. Water everyday, if you have to. But be careful not to leave them soaking wet- drainage is important.
Basic rules for watering plants in baskets

Be sure the baskets have drainage holes, and water until water comes out of the holes.
Avoid sprinkling the top of leaves of flower, especially in extreme heat or strong sun- it can burn the leaves or blooms.
In extreme heat, even drought-resistant portulaca and lantana need a little extra TLC. As long as they are watered, they’ll be okay.

Fertilizing a plant can boost its life span, but again, don’t overdo it. Adding a slow-release- or controlled release fertilizer to the hanging basket right after you buy or plant it is recommended. Follow the directions on your fertilizer package to ensure the best results. Once every 7 to 10 days is sufficient.

There are quite a number of products designed for flowering or non flowering plants. Bloom busters help produce more flowers, and an all-purpose fertilizer can keep all plants healthier longer. Ask your horticulturist for recommendation.

Basket Selection
The basket itself can make a lot of differences not only in appearance, but also the health of the plant.

First, decide if you are going to buy an already planted hanging basket or if you are going to plant it yourself. Next step, consider the size of the basket. Small pots will dry faster than the larger ones because they have less soil. But plants that are too large can become very heavy, so make sure you have the baskets strong enough to hold them securely.

Hanging plants could come pre-planted in either light weight plastic bags, pots or baskets filled with coco-fiber/moss. Plastic bags will need transplanting to a suitable pot or basket. Plastic pots retain moisture well, are inexpensive and easy to find, but color choice usually are limited to white, green or brown.

Coco-fiber/moss baskets are more decorative but tend to dry out faster.
If you purchase a pre-planted basket, you may need to freshen the soil. Use a thin trowel to loosen the soil, which will help water and air circulation and give the roots a little more breathing space. Root-bound plants may need to be transplanted to a larger basket or split (depending on the plants). This will help booster further growth. If transplanting or replenishing, use a good, light potting soil and give it a dose of fertilizer. You can also display a purchased plant, or start your own from a cutting, in any type of lightweight pot or woven basket. Garden centers have a variety of planters that can be suspended by chords or chains- or if the basket has a handle, just hang it on a hook.

Hanging plants can become a bit leggy overtime. If that happens you may need to pinch it back or even give the plant a good trim. Pinching back the dead blossom will allow the plant to focus its “energy” on new growth. Petunias, geranium and verbena benefit from a mid-season haircut and will quickly re-flower.

A good trim with garden shears will do the trick. Others like begonias, impatiens and million bells drop their blossoms, so they pretty much take care of themselves.

Want cascading effect with even less upkeep?
All green foliage plants like ferns, ivy, pothos (philodredon), spider plants- are always nice, and they are a lot less maintenance than flowering plants.

They do well under a shady porch or a covered deck, even indoors with low light, because they are not meant to be in harsh elements. But even without all the dazzling bright colors, they can look beautiful, bring an elegant and classic touch to any home.

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