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Hanging Basket Care – How To Keep Your Baskets Flowering All Summer!

This week’s podcast and corresponding article are all about hanging basket care – or more importantly, how to keep them flowering and gorgeous all summer long!

It’s true that hanging baskets and containers add instant color and interest to your landscape and property. But for many gardeners, by mid-summer, many of their gorgeous baskets start to fade. But with a bit of care, you truly can keep baskets strong and healthy all season long.

You can listen in below to our complete podcast on hanging basket care – or you can read on for a full-length article on the subject. As always, all of the podcast resource links will be provided at the end of the article. 

Simple Hanging Basket Care Tips

#1 Small Plants in Bigger Pots – Hanging Basket Care

One of the first tips is one that needs to be taken into consideration when you go to first purchase your hanging baskets from your local garden centers. While it might be extremely tempting, avoid purchasing overly large early-season baskets. 

Hanging basket plants at a garden nursery.
When choosing your hanging basket plants from a garden nursery, don’t choose the ones that are already fully blooming and filled out. Instead, opt for smaller, newer plants instead.

While these larger containers are great for early growth, the roots are already too large for the container they are in and the plants will soon start to suffer. Believe it or not, many growers plant baskets as early as November or December indoors to create gorgeous baskets for early spring. 

The issue with that is that the plants have already nearly outgrown their containers by the time you go to purchase them. In addition, the plants have already used up every bit of nutrients in the soil as well. 

Instead, choose hanging baskets that are just beginning to fill out their containers. These are the baskets you can grow slowly with proper care. More importantly, they are ones you can make last all season long. 

#2 Use Large Containers or Repot – Hanging Basket Care

In addition to purchasing less developed baskets, stay away from hanging baskets that have smaller containers. There just isn’t enough soil in smaller baskets to keep plants going all year long. Steer clear of using or purchasing 10 to 12 inch basket sizes and instead go for at least 16 to 18 inch diameter baskets.

You can also plant smaller plants and then transplant them to the larger pots. Not only can this be a great way to create your own unique flower arrangements, but the smaller plants are typically less expensive. 

a rootbound flower plant that was left in a small container for too long.
When plants are left in small containers, they quickly become rootbound and struggle to absorb nutrients.

Just be sure to plan ahead and use a larger container than the plant needs at the start. The more soil and more room you can provide, the better the long term growth will be. 

#3 Fertilizing – Hanging Basket Care

Without additional fertilizer applied throughout the growing season, hanging baskets will not continue to bloom. Hanging baskets, just like flowers planted in containers and raised beds, have limited soil fertility.

Even if you use the best planting soil mix to begin with, it will eventually run out of power. Thankfully, fertilizers are available to boost the resources available in your hanging basket soil.

But the important part is how and when you apply fertilizer to create long-term success. If you apply fertilizer in heavy doses, it will grow plants too quickly. It results in a massive plant that will outgrow its surroundings by mid-summer.

The key is to apply a lighter (weaker) dose, but do so more often. You can accomplish this with a liquid feeding of fertilizer, or using liquid compost tea or worm casting tea. 

A hand pouring compost tea into a hanging basket with pink and purple flowers.
Compost tea is simple to make and one of the best ways to boost the nutrients in your hanging basket soil.

If you are using a commercial liquid fertilizer mix, use it at a quarter or half of the recommended strength every 10 to 14 days. This supplies a slow and steady dose without pumping up the plants too quickly. Be sure to apply the liquid fertilizers early in the morning to avoid the heat of the sun.

Also, be sure to spray the liquid fertilizer on the foliage as well as at the roots. Liquid fertilizers absorb through the roots and leaves, and this will help energize the plant quickly.

#4 Top Dressing With Worm Castings – Hanging Basket Care 

It is best to use a two-fold approach to fertilizing. First, apply roughly a quarter cup of worm castings to the top level of the hanging basket’s soil every month. 

Worm Castings are the perfect slow-release fertilizer. Every time you water, the nutrients leach down through the soil absorbing into the roots of the plants. Then, apply your light dose of liquid fertilizer every two weeks as well. Together, the two work wonders to power plants!

#5 Consistent Watering – Hanging Basket Care 

The quickest way to weaken a hanging basket plant is to let it go too long without water. Get in the habit of watering your baskets at the same time every day. Not only does this help the plant with regular watering, but it also helps you remember to do it!

Use the hanging basket care tips to have beautiful flowers like this one with shades of purple blooms.
It really is possible to get beautiful hanging baskets by following these simple tips and care instructions.

The best time to water is in the early morning so plants can withstand the heat of the day. But if you come home on a scorcher and they look wilted, don’t wait until morning to water them. Give them a good second dose if needed.

If your hanging basket flowers look like they are starting to yellow, then you might be overwatering. Check for sufficient drainage in the pots and containers. It could appear that the top part of the soil is dry to the touch but the roots are sitting in water due to the lack of drainage.

If that’s the case, you can usually add your own drainage holes to most containers. As plants grow larger in mid-summer, they will probably need watering once in the morning and once in the evening. Constant and consistent watering, or the lack of it, is a big reason for early hanging basket failure. 

Bonus Tips – Hanging Basket Care 

While it might seem obvious, be sure to read the plant labels when you go to purchase your hanging basket plants. Each plant variety will require a different type of care – whether that pertains to being in full sun or shady locations, or even what type of moisture they require.

If you purchase hanging baskets early in the spring, keep an eye on your outdoor temperatures. You may end up with several days in the high 60s and then have a drop in temps, especially during the night. Delicate hanging basket plants might need to be brought indoors during these cold spells. 

A dead petunia bloom getting cut by a pair of scissors.
Don’t forget to cut off the seed head in addition to just pulling out the petals when you are deadheading flowers.

Lastly, be sure to keep up on deadheading blooms. Even varieties that were created to not need deadheading usually benefit from the task. For more information on deadheading, be sure to check out the article listed in the Podcast Links below.   

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Simple Garden Life is a website dedicated to keeping gardening fun, simple and enjoyable! We publish two new articles each week along with a new garden podcast episode every two weeks. This article may contain affiliate links.