Getting the most from you're hanging baskets

Last week we took a look at planting up a hanging basket for summer colour. This week we will take a look at few tips on the general care and maintenance of your hanging baskets so that you can get the full benefit of their blooms all through the flowering season.
   Undoubtedly the most important thing to remember when caring for a hanging basket is watering. As a general rule summer hanging baskets should be watered at least once a day but in particularly hot spells they may require watering as much as two or even three times a day. Probably the easiest way of checking your baskets moisture content is by checking the weight. At a time when you know your basket has sufficient water lift it up and try to guage its weight, as the summer goes on you can use this weight as a rough guide for watering, the lighter the basket the more water it will require. Ideally watering should take place in the morning or evening as water applied at the hottest part of the day tends to evoporate before it does any real good and there is a risk that it might scorch the plants. When watering a basket apply the water directly to the soil surface and not from overhead as this tends to ruin the flowers. Another point to remember about watering is not to be fooled by rain. A lot of people think that because it has rained during the day that they don¬ít have to water that evening, but very often summer showers are not heavy enough to do the job and quite often baskets are placed in shady spots close to the house where they are sheltered from the rain.
   Along with daily watering hanging baskets should also be given a liquid feed every week. This feeding should be started about a month after the basket is planted up and should continue all the way through the flowering season. Regular feeding will ensure that your plants stay fresh and healthy and produce plenty of blooms all summer long. Weekly feeding should be carried out even if slow release fertilizer was added to the compost mix when the basket was planted up.
   To keep your hanging baskets in top condition all faded flowers should be removed regularly. This dead heading prevents the plants from producing seeds and helps to conserve the plants energy for producing more flowers.  Deadheading is a job which can be done in a matter of seconds when you combine it with your daily watering.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.