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Horticultural Advice on Prolonging the Life of Hanging Baskets
Hanging baskets that start to draw and the growth has become thin, straggly and lacking in flowers can be helped by improving plant growth to generate a new wave of flower buds. This problem tends to occur in late summer following a prolonged warm spell and the constant watering has flushed the nutrients out of the compost.
Regular deadheading is important and if it has been neglected the developing seedheads will have seriously inhibited growth of new flower buds. It is too late to just remove the seedheads, you must instead trim the plants to remove all the weak growth. If you feel that this is too excessive for your display then consider removing all open flowers and also flower buds. The relief from flower production will alow the plant to generate more leaves and shoots.
Feed and Fertilisers
This is where most problems start. In the baskets early stages a balanced liquid feed is required. Miracle-Gro is ideal for this and used weekly will induce growth. However when growth is satisfactory you need to switch to a high potassium liquid feed, such as Tomorite, which will promote flowering.
We have trialled 2 different feeding techniques with Tomorite on our hanging basket displays. The first was to water twice then feed once rotation with a normal strength dilution feed, and the second was a half strength dilution feed every time. The half stength technique has resulted in the baskets lasting and looking good for over three weeks longer and with the trend in recent years with pleasing late summer weather conditions it is a time of year you need the company of a colourful hanging basket determined to keep pleasing - I don't want to be taken down!
Pests and Diseases
Well fed vigorous growth resists pests and disease. Healthy growth deter pests such as red spider mite, and early summer diseases such as powdery mildew, but some protection with approved pesticides may be necessary. Removing old, discoloured foliage also helps reduce troubles and improves growth.
Drying out is an increasing risk as foliage lengthens and days remain warm. Dunking dry hanging baskets in a bucket of water ensures they are fully wetted. Moving hanging baskets to a shadier spot can help where watering cannot keep pace.
Try using a cut-down plastic drinks bottle as a watering funnel. They can be hidden in the foliage at the top of the basket to direct the water into the root zone and prevent water running off the top.
Finally, look at the causes of hanging baskets failing, and note preventative action for next season such as using larger hanging baskets ( the larger volume of compost maintains a more stable root zone so the plants are under less stress in peak summer - 14 inch has provided the most consistent results ) , adding controlled - release fertiliser , using water retention granules and choosing plants that need less watering and deadheading
Hanging Basket Irrigation Systems
A common misconception with hanging basket irrigation is that water must appear out of the bottom of the basket before enough is replenished. The truth is that water draining out of the basket simply wastes water whilst washing away all of the valuable nutrients from the compost. Hanging baskets benefit immeasurably from receiving stable doses of water, but do not appreciate flooding. With a timer controlled hanging basket and patio container irrigation system you can accurately control the amount of water your baskets and containers receive. Once set up it will deliver the same amount of water every time. No more over or indeed under watering.