Hanging baskets are an attractive and practical way to add color, interest, and beauty to outside areas. Hanging baskets used to contain only one type of plant. However, in recent years, baskets with multiple plants have become very popular.

Often called “potting soil,” the best potting mix doesn’t contain any soil. Regular topsoil usually doesn’t have the qualities necessary to support good plant growth in containers, and it may prevent diseases and weed seeds.

A good potting or soilless mix is well-drained and aerated and holds moisture and nutrients well. Such mixes may contain various proportions of peat, bark, perlite, and vermiculite.

Avoid placing hanging baskets in sites that receive excessive amounts of wind, which causes them to dry out faster than in-ground plants. For places that get four to twelve hours of sunlight per day, select plants for full sun to partial shade. Choose plants for partial to full shade for two to four hours of early or late sunlight per day.

All plants combined in one basket must have similar water, light, and nutrition requirements. When you plant a hanging basket, fill the basket with potting mix within a few inches of the rim. If your mixture doesn’t contain nutrients, mix in some slow-release fertilizer. Be sure to follow label rates for the size container you’re using.

Select healthy, high-quality plants. Inspect the foliage and flowers for any signs of pests or diseases. Take the plant from the pot and examine the root system, which should be white and well-developed. Avoid root-bound plants. Some examples of trailing plants that are beautiful in hanging baskets are petunias, million bells, geraniums, torenias, verbenas, portulacas, helichrysums, and scaevolas.

Supply the baskets with adequate water and fertilizer throughout the growing season. When plants are small, their water and nutrition needs are less. As the weather warms and plants grow, their water and nutrition requirements increase. Container-grown plants need fertilizing about once every other week. When using liquid plant food, make sure the potting mix is moist. If it’s dry, the fertilizer salts could damage the plant roots.

Regular deadheading (removing spent flowers) encourages new flowers to develop. Pruning and trimming stimulate new growth. Using healthy, high-quality plants is essential. To keep them robust and attractive, you also need to provide the best growing conditions.

Consider using hanging baskets to add beauty to your home landscape. They are easy to plant and maintain.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett.

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