Hanging Baskets with Mike Darcy

May 6, 2017

On a recent visit to Wilco, I knew it must be May as the garden center was ablaze with the color of flowering hanging baskets. It seems as though May is the month when hanging baskets begin arriving in garden centers and their color is certainly a welcome sight. This year with our wet and rainy cool days, a flowering basket seems to herald the fact that indeed, spring is here.

It is very easy to buy a hanging basket on the spur of the moment, and actually I do that quite often. However, before buying that basket, stop and think for a moment where you will hang it. This is important because the variety of plants in hanging baskets will vary and some will be better suited for a shady location while others will thrive in full sun.

Fuchsias are the most popular of all hanging basket plants and deservedly so. The plants will be in bloom when you buy the basket and they will continue to bloom all summer and into the fall. Plus an added bonus is that they are an excellent plant for attracting hummingbirds. Fuchsias might be the only plants in a basket, but often other plants are included with geraniums and petunias being popular choices. A basket with a combination of different plants can give you more diversity of color and foliage.

The care of hanging baskets is not difficult but does require consistency. For many years, I was on the Lake Oswego Hanging Basket committee and we learned that daily watering was necessary. Plants stressed from lack of water will often never fully recover. With hanging baskets being exposed to the elements; wind, sun, etc. they often dry out quickly and then the plants can easily become stressed from lack of water. As the soil in a basket begins to dry, it will contract and pull away from the sides leaving space between the root ball and sides of the basket. Once this happens, the water will run through this open space and the root ball will not get the moisture it needs. The only way to remedy this is to remove the basket and soak it in a garbage can or large bucket of water for several hours. Once the soil has become saturated, then the basket can be replaced to its original place and hopefully you will have learned your lesson about the necessity of daily watering. Most of the plants in a hanging basket will be annuals that bloom on new growth and to keep them blooming all summer, I suggest a weekly application of a liquid soluble fertilizer.

The hanging baskets that you will find at Wilco have all been grown in the Pacific Northwest and they have enough plant starts in them to make a full and lush basket. Liven up your garden this year with one or more hanging baskets and enjoy the color all summer.

Remember that hanging baskets make an ideal Mother’s Day gift as well as a gift to your favorite gardener!