About this time each year, plants in hanging baskets start to look a little less than perfect. Being confined in such a small space, they can run out of air and food, so they may need a little help from you to continue to shine for the rest of the season.
Consistent watering is the single most important job in keeping hanging baskets healthy. Try to water in the morning and give them a good drenching. This gives them moisture through the heat of the day. On milder days, you can possibly water every other day, but your plants will tell you if you forget. On the other hand, if you have a super hot day, water them again in the evening.
Fertilize on a consistent schedule such as the same day every week to two weeks. Container plants have limited soil fertility, so you have to give them a boost over the season. You can use whatever fertilizer you like best, but if you like continuous feeding, worm castings are a perfect slow release fertilizer. Apply ¼ cup worm castings on top of the soil and every time you water the nutrients filter down to the roots. You can also try ¼ cup spent coffee grounds that are high in nitrogen.
Fertilizers come in all varieties from granular, liquid, hose-end sprayed, and chemical or organic. They also come in various configurations for specific plants. Tomatoes need high potassium so the numbers on your tomato fertilizer should be highest in the third number, example 12-15-30 (the 12 is Nitrogen, the 15 is phosphorus, the 30 is potassium). Petunias on the other hand need iron, so petunia food would include iron as well as high nitrogen, low phosphorus, and higher potassium like 20-6-22.
I personally like a liquid or powder fertilizer that gets mixed with water and is applied every two weeks. This keeps the plants from getting too much fertilizer and becoming root-bound in their pots.
Many plants popular for baskets will stop producing blooms and get leggy if you don’t remove the spent flowers each day. The annual plant’s job is to grow, produce flowers, develop seed, and die. So, if there are dead flowers on the stems, it’s telling the plant to stop producing new blooms.
This process can apply to your other potted plants also. Here’s to beautiful hanging baskets and container plants.