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Eight Great Tips for Healthy Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets overflowing with flowers just seem to be getting more and more popular every season. And no wonder! Colorful annuals spilling down like fountains make a perfect statement: healthy, vigorous plants that just can’t help themselves!

BOGO Baskets at Tagawa’s are a tradition!

For years now, Tagawa’s has welcomed the beginning of the spring planting season with a BOGO special: buy one specially-marked hanging basket with orange tags, and get a second BOGO orange-tagged basket for free!

The special offer is going on now, while supplies last. Tagawa has hundreds of other baskets available too, at their regular price.

Whichever type of basket you choose, we want to make sure you have all of the tips and tricks you’ll need to keep these beautiful arrangements looking their best all summer long.

So let’s look at some things to keep in mind to help your hanging baskets thrive.

Right plants, right place

There’s no sense in falling in love with a hanging basket that’s just not right for the conditions you can give it. If you’ll be displaying your basket in full sun, especially full afternoon sun, don’t ever try to force it to adapt to “morning sun” or “shade.” And never put a sun-loving plant where it can’t get any sun at all.  It’s a no-go! Neither you nor your plants will be happy!

The hanging baskets at Tagawa’s indicate what type of light the plants need.  The same is true if you’re buying annuals to create your own basket.  Trust the labels!

“Hardening off”

Hardening off or acclimating any plants you buy is far more critical than most people think. Consider this:  the plants that have been grown and displayed indoors don’t have a clue what growing in the “real world” outdoors is like.  They’re used to even temperatures, high humidity, no wind, or harsh sunshine. They need time to adjust to this sudden change once you take them home.

The answer?  Harden them off, toughen them up slowly, over the course of five days at least.  Once you’ve taken them home, weather permitting, set them in a sheltered location outdoors the first day, perhaps up against a shady wall.  Then set them in the garage overnight. (I’ve hardened off plants overnight in the trunk of my car more than once!)

The next day, a little more exposure… then perhaps set them up against a wall that night.  Day by day, introduce them to a little more of the world that awaits them.  The process of acclimating them slowly can make all the difference between plants that thrive and those that are stunted, perhaps for the entire season.

Containers and extra TLC

More than any other type of container garden, hanging baskets demand a little more love. Think of where they’re usually displayed once you get them home: well above ground level, fully exposed to the elements, and subject to hot drying winds from all sides.  It’s not an easy assignment!

The TLC starts with the type of container they’re growing in, which directly affects how they need to be watered.

I often think the most appealing baskets of all are the ones growing in coco fiber liners. They just look so natural… like Mother Nature had a hand in things. But be advised:  these beautiful arrangements will absolutely require extra water because the coco fiber is so porous. Well worth the effort, for sure, but not a choice to be taken lightly simply because they look so very pretty.

Even plastic pots like the ones used for our BOGO baskets may easily need watering daily, just depending on where they’re displayed.

How much water, and how often?

Just assume that your hanging baskets are water hogs, and you’re halfway home.

Amanda and others on the Tagawa Annuals team can determine a hanging basket’s need for water simply by lifting the plant slightly and judging the weight.

Water your hanging baskets thoroughly, until water pours out the bottom of the container, then judge the weight yourself going forward. Whenever the basket starts to feel noticeably lighter, it’s time to grab the hose.

Maybe a good soak is in order?

If the hot weather sneaks up on you and you’re having trouble truly drenching your hanging baskets with every watering, how about a nice soak?

It never hurts to treat these hard-working plants to a pan or tub full of water up to their rims of the pot for an hour or so. Set a timer so you don’t forget them!  Sometimes soil that is completely dried out can be hard to fully hydrate with a hose.  A good soak can make all the difference!

Feed them and they will grow!

Because hanging baskets require such frequent watering, the nutrients in the soil are always leaching out. Some of the TLC I referred to earlier needs to include frequent and consistent fertilization. (By the way, that’s true for  all container-grown plants, and will help keep your flowering plants looking their best!)

Trish, Tagawa’s Annuals/Production Administrative Assistant, says she has a couple of go-to fertilization programs she follows to keep hungry annuals blooming all summer long.

She says she puts a lot of faith in a liquid plant food called “Nature’s Source.”

Trish says she’ll use Nature’s Source at the recommend rate in all of her hanging baskets and container gardens once every week or so.

She says her second option is using Age Old “Grow” and Age-Old “Bloom.”

grow and bloom fertilizer at tagawa gardens centennial colorado denver

She alternates, using the grow formula one week, then the bloom formula the next.

We’d never recommend fertilizing perennials this way, but annuals are different.  We’re willing to push them with frequent feeding because we know they’re only here for the season.  With the first frost, most of them will be gone. We can ask them to flower! flower! flower!  It’s kind of like a marathon… they send up blossoms like crazy, and then the race is done. Annuals’ long-term year after year health just isn’t an issue. We push them hard for a few months, and then have to let them go. Sad, but true.

Trim and tidy is the order of the day

When they’re happy, the annuals in hanging baskets should grow vigorously. It’s up to you to keep up with the deadheading and trimming.

“Deadheading” is simply trimming off the older flowers as soon as they begin to fade. By nature, flowers are going to want to set seed… but it’s seed you don’t need!  If the plants are allowed to go to seed, you’re letting them waste energy that could otherwise go toward making new blossoms.

It’s also up to you to keep any leggy or stringy bits of the plant trimmed off.  Pruning back “tired” growth will help enormously in keeping the plants tidy and robust.

Turn them ’round and ’round

As the season progresses, rotate your hanging baskets to even out the light over time. Turning your baskets helps keep one side from growing more than the other and getting lopsided.  Turning them at least every week or two can help keep the overall planting nice and balanced.

Hanging baskets can be a bit more trouble…

…but they are so worth the extra effort!  I don’t think of them as divas or prima donnas, but they do have extra maintenance needs, to be sure.

Come see us at Tagawa’s. I’ll bet there’s a perfect hanging basket (or two) just waiting for you! Always feel free to ask our wonderful staff any questions you might have about container baskets or anything else we have to offer.