As the heat and dryness of summer bears down on us, the vigour of our treasured "garden in a pot" hanging baskets can start to decline. But with these basic techniques under your belt, your baskets can look great all season long.
1. Water, water, water
Baskets can dry out quickly, and should be checked twice daily and watered every day; be sure to wet the moss sides as well. Once a week, take the basket down and soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes to hydrate the entire root ball.
Remove spent flowers on a weekly basis (this is called deadheading) to prevent plants from going to seed. This will encourage more flower production. Part of the beauty of the mixed basket is its prolonged display, just like in your garden.
3. Check for pests
During your weekly deadheading, keep a watchful eye out for aphids, whiteflies and other beasties. If you see any, try a quick spray of insecticidal soap to keep them from becoming problematic.
Not every plant in the basket will be at its peak all season. Cutting plants back after a flush of bloom will tidy them up and prepare them for a fresh crop of flowers. Meanwhile, other varieties will begin putting on a show.
Daily watering means nutrients can be leached out of the soil before the plants can absorb them. Feed baskets weekly with 15-30-15 fertilizer. Use a solution containing micronutrients, as plants like petunias need extra iron.
During stretches of extreme heat, give your baskets a break and move them to a cooler, shaded spot to de-stress for a couple of days; likewise when heading on vacation. Your baskets will appreciate the relaxation time, too.