Lawn and Garden

Hang on to your hanging flower basket longer with these tips

Originally by Carrie See, formerly of the WVU Extension Service Small Farms Center

Reviewed May 2015 by Larry Campbell, Harrison County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

hanging_basket-2 Hanging baskets are a spring tradition in many families. Holidays, such as Mother’s Day, make the perfect occasion for purchasing a gift that, if cared for properly, can last throughout the season.

Many shoppers might think that picking a basket is as simple as searching for your – or mom’s – favorite color. While color is a great place to start, there’s more to consider in purchasing the perfect hanging basket to fit your needs.

Planning

Where will the basket hang? This might be hard to answer if you’re giving the flower as a gift, but try to answer the following questions.

Is the location a full- or partial-sun location? Answering this will help you choose the plant varieties in your basket. This is especially important because flowers that like shade shouldn’t be in full sun locations or hot afternoon sun. Shade-loving flowers don’t handle the heat well.

Examples of sun-loving plants are: hanging_basket-3
  • petunias,
  • daisies,
  • geraniums,
  • calibrachoa,
  • nasturtiums, and
  • verbena
Flowers that need partial shade include:
  • alyssum,
  • begonias,
  • fuchsias,
  • impatiens, and
  • primroses.

If in doubt, check the plastic tag inside the basket that contains information such as the plant variety, how big it’s going to get, and how much sun it needs to thrive.

“Spiller” baskets

hanging_basket-2 Some baskets contain “spillers” which are the plants that drape down over the side of the basket, creating a trailing effect.

These are a great addition to a basket, especially if it is going to be hung at eye level or above. Add these to your basket to create a spilling effect:
  • sweet potato vine,
  • wave petunia,
  • fuchsia (this actually makes a great basket on its own!), and
  • lobelia.

You can even “spice” it up with some thyme or oregano!

Hanging fruit baskets

Another tasty idea is to create a hanging basket of strawberry plants. This basket will produce berries all summer.

Strawberries need full sun and lots of water, so if that’s not in the game plan, go with something a little lower maintenance.

How to purchase a good basket

When you make your purchase, it’s very tempting to choose the planter that is in full bloom; of course it will be the prettiest now. However, you’ll do better to select the basket with small, underdeveloped plants with just a few blooms. Smaller blooms will fill in and look nice in a few weeks.

If you purchase the overgrown plants, when the blooms are pinched back to encourage spreading, they tend to not grow back as well.

It’s beneficial to choose a larger planter because it won’t need watering as often. Smaller baskets tend to dry out more quickly and that can be deadly in the hottest part of summer.