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How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants – From Purchase To Disposal!

It’s finally Spring! One of the earliest signs that warmer weather is on the way is seeing all of those beautiful hanging baskets!

The displays are everywhere – at garden centers, big box stores, and even at your local grocery stores! But how do you care for hanging basket plants?

Displaying hanging basket plants is a great way to add beautiful color and texture to your home and landscape. Just take a quick drive around your neighborhood. I almost guarantee you will see a hanging basket or two!

Just because a hanging basket plant is full and bigger in size doesn’t mean that is the one you should purchase! Chances are that it has already outgrown its basket!

Whether you hang them from your front porch to smell as you walk into your front door, set them in the corner of your deck to enjoy while you relax, or hang them from decorative hangers to see from every window within your home, there’s just something about the beauty of hanging baskets.

Knowing how to care for your hanging basket plants doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. However, if you want to keep those beautiful blooms going throughout Spring and Summer, there are a few steps you should take to ensure they don’t start to wilt as soon as you bring them home!  

All You Need To Know To Care For Hanging Basket Plants!

Bigger Isn’t Always Better – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

The first suggestion happens before you even purchase the plant! While you are standing in the garden center trying to decide which hanging basket to take home, don’t grab for the biggest plant with the most blooms.

Early growth, while beautiful, indicates that the basket was likely started by the growers as early as November or December! By the time you get around to purchasing it, the plant has likely used up all of the available nutrients in their soil and has outgrown their pot.

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    Instead, choose a hanging basket that is just beginning to fill out their container. Yes, even if that means sacrificing a few early blooms right off the bat!

    Pick The Right Container – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

    Although you shouldn’t grab the biggest plant, you should consider grabbing the biggest container! There just isn’t enough soil in those smaller containers to sustain a plant throughout its entire growing season.

    If those inexpensive 8-10” plants are just too appealing to pass up though, go ahead and purchase them. Just make sure to transplant them into bigger containers so they have room to really grow.

    Avoid keeping plants in 8, 10, 12, and even 14” basket sizes. Instead, go for the larger 16-18” ones. More room in the container equals more room for your plant to expand and have better long-term growth.

    If you decide to purchase a plant in a smaller hanging basket size, consider transplanting the flowers into a larger 16-18″ basket so they have room to grow.

    Make Sure To Feed Your Plant – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

    Now that you are home with your “smaller” plant in a “larger” container, you need to feed it! Yes, your hanging basket needs to be fed just like you do, but in a slightly different way.

    The way you feed a plant is by using fertilizers. If you fail to use fertilizers, it’s likely that your hanging baskets will fade before the end of the growing season is up. Why? Because once those nutrients in the container’s soil are used up, the plant begins to die. The key to having success with fertilizers is doing it low and slow.

    Making your own organic liquid fertilizers such as compost tea or worm casting tea is perfect for accomplishing this! When made yourself, you have more control over how much and how often they are applied. It is best to apply these types of fertilizers every two weeks.

    Keep in mind that if you use a commercial liquid fertilizer mix for your hanging baskets, use only ½ or even ¼ of the recommended strength. Then apply it every 10-14 days. Remember, low and slow!  

    In addition to organic liquid fertilizers, another great boost to add to your hanging baskets is to apply worm castings! Just a ¼ cup of worm castings added to the top of your basket’s soil is the perfect slow-release fertilizer booster! It works by slowly leaking down small amounts of nutrients into the plant’s roots every time you water your plants.

    hanging basket care
    You will need to water your hanging basket plants on a consistent schedule, preferably in the mornings.

    Get Your Watering Can Ready – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

    Now, just like your hanging baskets need food, they also need water as well! Try to get into the routine of watering your plants on a consistent schedule. The best time to water them is in the early morning so the plants have a head start to dealing with the heat of the Summer sun.

    If you aren’t sure whether you need to water them or not, just stick your finger down an inch or so into the soil. When the soil feels dry, then they need to be watered. If the soil feels moist, then you can hold off a bit. Keep in mind that having overly dry soil sometimes means that you will need to water them twice a day, especially in mid to late summer.

    One watering issue to look out for is if your hanging basket foliage is turning yellow. That likely means you are overwatering them. Check to make sure your container has decent drainage. If it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to add a few additional holes. Whatever you need to do, just try to be consistent with your watering routine!       

    A Few More Additional Tips – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

    Another additional tip you can use to give your hanging baskets the best possible summer season is to not be afraid of deadheading. Yes, you read that right! Deadheading is when you remove the blooms that are dying so the plant puts all its energy into making new blooms, not repairing damaged or dying ones.

    Also, make sure you “get to know your plants.” By this I mean read the tag on the original container to make sure you know whether the plant needs full sun, partial sun, shade, etc. Putting the wrong type of plant in the wrong location could mean the difference between a thriving plant or a dying one! 

    hanging basket care
    Don’t throw away your dying hanging basket plant! Add the soil and foliage to your compost bin!

    How To “Dispose Of” Your Plant – How To Care For Hanging Basket Plants

    The last tip has to do with what you should do with your dying plant once the weather starts to cool and Fall is right around the corner. Should you just throw the hanging basket out by your curb and wait for the trash person to collect it? No way!

    Add your hanging basket foliage and soil to your compost bin! Even though the soil might be mostly depleted of nutrients, the soil and dying foliage are still a great addition to help boost your compost pile! It also helps to ensure that you will have great composting material available next year to make your compost tea fertilizer, which will help power that year’s hanging basket plants.

    Make sure to check out our Podcast Episode for additional information on Hanging Basket Care – How To Keep Your Baskets Flowering All Summer!