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Hanging Baskets 101

Want flower baskets bursting with color and blooms?

By Thad Johnson, Yatahai Gardens

Here are Yatahai Gardens’ growing tips for the best baskets:


Add Texture and Dimension. Blend straight, upright plants like geraniums, mounding plants like petunias, with trailing plants like verbena and lobelia.

Always Have a Focal Flower. Include at least one bold-blossomed plant, like a geranium or petunia. And add in an unusual nonflowering plant like dusty miller—a silvery-gray plant with soft, fernlike foliage—or ‘Blackie’ sweet potato, a vine with stunning, trailing black leaves. Too many little flowers can make for a blurry display.

Choose Plants Wisely. Choose plants that grow at about the same rate. For instance, petunias, verbena and lobelia all grow fairly fast, while geraniums and million bells grow more slowly. If you opt to mix slow growers with fast growers, choose smaller plants for the fast growers and larger plants for the slow growers; eventually, they’ll catch up with each other.

Design a Crowd-Pleaser. As long as the pot’s depth allows plants to extend their roots, squeezing plants together won’t hurt. Shoot for having 12 to 15 inches of potting mix below the plant when you first put it in the basket.

Feed Each Watering. Fertilizer is particularly important for hanging baskets, because potting mix doesn’t have all the creepy-crawlers and soil microorganisms that your garden does. So try to fertilizer every time you water with a bloom-booster formula.

Go Big. The bigger the basket, the more water-storing potting mix you can put in it, and the less often you’ll have to water to keep it from drying out. Bigger containers also buy you more time before plants mature and become root-bound. A good starter-size hanging basket is 14 inches, but feel free to go with the biggest basket you feel comfortable hanging.

Think Outside the Basket. Want a ready-made, beautiful cluster of flowers for whiskey barrels or front entryway beds? Buy hanging baskets and transplant them into barrels or beds, where they’ll happily spread and grow all season.

Use a Quality Growing Medium. Use a premixed potting soil that contains water-storing granules like perlite or vermiculite, and peat moss. Don’t put straight garden soil in a basket. It’s too heavy and will weigh it down.

Water Is Where It’s At. Different plants have different water needs. Watch how many days it takes for your baskets to begin to dry out, and then establish a routine based on your observations. Water baskets until water seeps through the basket bottom.

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