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How To Plant Stunning Hanging Baskets And Containers

Planting your own hanging baskets and containers takes a little extra effort but the results are definitely worth it. Here's how to keep them thriving until frost arrives.

Hanging plantersI know most people like the instant gratification of the ready-made, flowering baskets from the garden centre — and there’s no doubt they’re beautiful — but they don’t last as long or bloom as beautifully as ones you plant yourself.

Pre-done baskets and containers are planted tightly, which means they’re gorgeous and full when you buy them in early spring. But as the season progresses, there isn’t enough space for the roots to really thrive. Making your own means you can pick the colours and plant combinations you like best and the roots will be happy so your flowers will be stunning until frost arrives.

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Here’s how to get started.

Select a container

You’ll want a good-sized container to give the roots plenty of space. They need air, food, water and room to grow. Happy down below; beautiful up above. I use 14-inch peat pots for hanging baskets — I like the natural look and they don’t get as hot in full sun like plastic does. Coco-mat containers look great but require more watering. You are aiming for a balance between good drainage and water retention.

Get the right soil and fertilizer

Look for a loose potting mix that provides lots of wiggle room for the roots. It’s worth investing in a good product, such as Pro Mix or Agro Mix. Miracle-Gro and Proven Winners also have good potting mixtures. Add a slow-release pellet-style fertilizer to the mix before you plant so your plants get a steady supply of nutrients throughout the growing season.

flower basket

Photo, Pexels.

Pick your plants

A greenhouse is wonderful place to wander but it can be overwhelming. Make a list of your containers before you go, noting size, light, space and colour preferences. Try to shop early in the season when there’s more variety and the staff have more time to assist you.

You’ll find many three- and four-inch pots of flowering and trailing plants for sun and shade. The flowering ones will have a blossom or two on them, which makes choosing your combination easier. But it’s actually better to buy plants that aren’t blooming — you want their energy going into forming new roots, not flowers, at this stage.

I plant many baskets and always use a non-seeding variety of petunia like the Supertunias from Proven Winners. They’re more expensive than regular petunias but don’t need to be deadheaded, meaning you don’t have to pinch off dead flowers throughout the season. They also grow to a larger size so you don’t need as many plants.

Here are a few things in mind when choosing your own plants:

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Exposure:

Before heading to the greenhouse, pay attention to how much sun your container will get in its location. Look for plants that need about the same amount.

Water requirements:

Don’t put plants that like water with ones that don’t.

Form:

Is the plant upright or trailing and what size will it be?

Spacing:

How far apart do you need to plant? You want to give everything enough room to grow to its full size.

Plant your containers

When you first do your baskets, the plants will look a little lost. I put two Supertunias in a 14-inch inch pot, and nothing else. Before long, they are branching out and filling in.

When you have transplanted your purchases into your containers, pinch off the flowers so those roots can settle in without having to support the flowers. You will get a bigger, happier plant faster.

Keep them healthy

I fertilize with a high-nitrogen water-soluble fertilizer at half strength when I transplant and then at regular strength every 10 to 14 days.

Water your containers when they are dry. Hanging baskets are easy to check by just lifting them up to see if they are light. You will quickly get to know what a dry basket feels like. When you water, water well and all the way through.

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