Hanging baskets of flowers are just the right thing to add to the front porch for instant pizazz! If properly cared for and fertilized, a hanging basket purchased now can offer months of color and enjoyment. Here are a few of my best tips for success.

Water

A consistent watering schedule is the key to plant health. Watering needs will increase as the plants grow and the weather warms up. By mid-summer, most baskets will need daily watering, if not more than once a day. Check the weight of the basket to determine if it needs watering. If you plan to be gone for a few days, it is best to have someone take care of your basketsee if a neighbor will keep it for a while. If there is no one to care for it, take it down from its hook, water it, and place it in the shade while you are gone.

Fertilize

We recommend a time-release or slow release fertilizer be added to the soil in the basket as soon as you take it home. Osmocote is a long-lasting, reliable food that lasts for 4 months. In addition, liquid feed with a bloom booster every 10-14 days for best performance.

Deadhead

Some varieties of flowers do not need their spent blooms removed to keep blooming (Calibrachoa/Million Bells are ‘self-cleaning’), but many do and most baskets look better when this is done. Be sure to deadhead and examine baskets weekly to keep plants clean and healthy.

Protect

From bud worms and caterpillars with Captain Jack’s Dead Bug; spray when you see a small white moth/butterfly on or near your flowers. Keep an eye out for other pests/diseases such as aphids (use insecticidal soap or neem oil).

Sun

Pay attention to the amount of sun the area will receive; often baskets hang under eaves or in areas that may be shaded, although they appear to be in sun; some areas in full sun also receive radiant heat from fences, decks, or sidingspecial consideration needs to be made for hot-dry conditions (Ivy geraniums, purslane). Combinations for sun need at least 6 hours; part sun 4-6 hours; shade is less than 4 hours (fuchsias are great in the shade).

The larger the hanging basket container, the easier it is to care for and keep watered. Also, the type of container it is planted in can make a difference. Plastic pots hold water best, while wire frames with moss or coco liners tend to dry out more quickly. A 12-14″ diameter basket will be lush and full of color, so if you can, install a strong hook for hanging a heavy basketin this case, bigger is better!