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Hanging baskets are "spots of living color" that accent architecture by picking up elements of the landscape and putting them at eye level. Hanging baskets can add a whole new dimension to any location.
When selecting plant for your hanging basket, first take a moment to decide what effect you want to create. Flowering bedding plants that are annuals or perennials mixed with complementing foliage are usually a good choice. These plants can be selected to theme with the existing features in your landscape.
Important things to keep in mind when selecting plants for hanging baskets:
Making Your Basket
Hanging baskets grown for outdoor locations can be planted in sphagnum moss baskets. As well as looking good, the sphagnum helps retard fungus. However, when you hang the sphagnum basket, make sure you have good support-after watering, these baskets can weigh from 20-60 pounds! Sphagnum baskets can either be planted in the top - with the plants allowed to cascade over the sides - or in the sides and the top to create a ball. Planting in the sides as well as the top produces a fuller basket. In turn, the basket will be ready in a shorter period of time. On either type basket, check your wire hangers often, as the water and fertilizer weaken the hanger over time.
When planting baskets, add one tablespoon of time-release fertilizer to the top of the basket. Fertilizing weekly with a water soluble fertilizer will help your basket fill in quickly and stay healthy.
Tips for Creating a Sphagnum Hanging Basket
Maintaining Your Basket
Good maintenance can prolong the life of your basket. Once your basket is grown, maintaining it is time consuming but important to it's health and look.
Trimming is a special part of basket maintenance. By trimming old flowers every two or three weeks your basket can stay at its' peak for a long time. Certain plants - such as latana or verbena - require little or no trimming. Others, such as begonias and impatiens, are usually trimmed into balls of color.
During the warm months, watering daily is essential. During the cooler weather, watering can be slowed to every two to three days. Continue fertilizing weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer during the life of the basket.
Common pest problems on hanging baskets are mealy bugs and spider mites. Fungus can also become a serious problem, especially during the warmer months. Your local garden center or Agricultural Extension Service can help you with controls for these problems. If your basket becomes severely infested, isolate it from the others, prune out the problem and then treat with the appropriate control. Pruning of the affected plant is a fast way to reduce an insect population.
When your basket starts to deteriorate, you have several options: dispose of the plants and replant; severely prune and grow it out again if the plant is salvageable; or, if you have seasonal plants in a combination, replace them and start production again.
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