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Maintain Your Baskets

Maintaining Your Hanging Basket

The keys to maintaining your hanging basket really fall into three categories: water, fertilizer, and other maintenance.

Water

Watering is the hardest part of maintaining a hanging basket or any container plant. You can’t keep the soil too wet because it will result in root rot problems You can’t keep the soil too dry or the plant wilts and dies. You want to hit the happy medium. Here are the rules of thumb for watering hanging baskets:

1. Water only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch
2. Water until water comes out of the drainage holes
3. Don’t allow your pot to sit in standing water

Here are a few more tips on watering hanging baskets. Early in spring, when your plants are smaller and the temperatures are lower, you may only have to water every 3 or 4 days. As the plants get larger and the temperature creeps higher, be prepared to water every day. With small pots or water- thirsty plants, you might even have to water twice a day. You will also need to water more quickly if it is a windy day. Wind will cause pots to dry out more quickly, especially hanging baskets. Larger pots will dry-out less quickly than small pots. For more in-depth watering information, click here .  If you have had problems with your hanging basket in the past, we really encourage you to read the watering article.

Another option to consider with watering is a drip irrigation system. Benson Corners is marketing a very adaptable, low-volume irrigational system that works as well for flower beds as it does for hanging baskets and upright patio containers. These systems generally apply ½ to 1 gallon of water per hour. Drip irrigation systems can be turned into automatic systems by adding a timer to your outside faucet. This timer can be set to turn on your water at specified times and on specified days—you don’t want to be locked into watering every day. The drip emitters limit wasted water from splashing on sidewalks and driveways. They also deliver the water directly to the soil by the plant. This eliminates water evaporation and lots of water on the leaves resulting in less disease and less water waste. We will design a perfect system that has everything you need to set up the system. The only tool you need to install the system is a pair of scissors. If you don't want to install it yourself, Benson Corners Greenhouse offers installation service.

Fertilizer

Your container plants are only getting nutrition if you provide it to them.  After watering, fertilizer is the most important thing to keep your plants thriving.   We usually recommend adding a slow or controlled-release fertilizer to your hanging basket right after you buy or plant it.  This will provide your basket with a good constant dose of fertilizer.  Be sure to follow the directions on your fertilizer package to make sure you don't damage your plants. 

Starting in July, we usually start using a water-soluble fertilizer once every one to two weeks.  Again, follow the directions on your fertilizer package.  We do this for two reasons -- by this time the plants are very large and to keep them going takes more fertilizer plus some of the controlled-release fertilizer has already been used by the plant.  We sometimes also use a dose of water-soluble fertilizer after a heavy rain.  A lot of water going through your basket, like you get with a big rain storm, can wash out fertilizer.  A dose of water-soluble fertilizer the next time you water is a good, quick way to give your plant some food.  For more in-depth information on fertilizing, click here .

Other Maintenance

There are two other things you may want to do to help maintain your basket for the long-haul.  First, some plants may need deadheading.  Most Syngenta® Flowers GoldFisch®  Vegetative  plants sold at Benson Corners have been selected to not need deadheading for continuous bloom, but some plants may benefit from it. 

The second thing you may want to do is a late July/early August trim. Hanging baskets can become a bit stretched or open-looking over time, even when you are doing everything right. If this happens, we give our baskets a "haircut" in mid-to-late summer. This simply means we take a sharp pair of scissors or shears and trim a few inches off the entire basket, like when you get your hair trimmed similar to getting your hair trimmed. How much you cut off is up to you. A light trim of an inch or two is usually plenty, but there are times when a bigger trim might be good. If you have long trailing pieces that you don't like, feel free to cut them off.

Giving the basket a haircut will rob you of some flowers, but it will increase branching, tighten the habit, and help keep the basket looking good long-term. Your flowers should come back within a few days to a week or so. And given enough fertilizer, your plant is likely to start growing more strongly again.


Photos courtesy of Proven Winners - www.provenwinners.com
Copyright 2016