How to grow plants in hanging baskets – Tips and Tricks

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The concept of hanging baskets is fast growing in its popularity, giving way to research, innovations, and informative guidelines to be able to create and nurture your very own plant. From flowers to fruits; from vegetables to herbs, there is nothing these hanging wonders cannot do. Whether it is the kitchen or the back garden or even a street corner, these hanging baskets have found a way to create their own little place in our daily lives. Let us see the best tips to grow plants in hanging baskets.

grow plants in hanging baskets
plants in hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are easy to create at home using multiple around-the-house items such as wire baskets, reusable grocery bags, plastic containers, kitchen colanders, and even coconut shells! With a creative idea, a suitable potting mix, and the right kind of transplant technique, your hanging baskets will result in an array of colors and magic!

In the USA, hanging baskets are most commonly used for growing flowers. If you have carefully followed the right procedure and yet you have reached a roadblock and your hanging plants are not flowering anymore, there are a few key points to keep in mind when faced with such a challenge. Let’s explore them.

Why are my hanging baskets not flowering?

Lots of people asks why my hanging baskets not flowering? You can check the below tips those will ultimately helps to grow plants in hanging baskets.

Am I watering them right?

It is imperative to water the plants in your hanging baskets regularly and well. It is also important when the hanging basket plants are being watered. The best time to water your plants is in the early morning hours. Maintaining a regular and fixed time will help in keeping the plant healthy and the flowers blooming.

Am I using the right fertilizer?

To encourage the growth of flowers in your hanging basket plant, consistent fertilizing is required. Additional fertilizer needs to be applied throughout the year periodically, as part of the maintenance regime. 1/4th cup of worm casting applied to the top of the plant can prove to work wonders.

The worm casting can be replaced by coffee grounds which are known to be high in nitrogen however; a word of caution is advised to not overindulge in this type of fertilizer. The third kind is the liquid fertilizer made from tea compost and can be introduced every two weeks or so to your hanging basket plants.

With regular watering, an adequate amount of fertilizer is sure to be transmitted to the roots of the plant.
A few examples of quality fertilizer that are easily available at nurseries and online throughout the USA –

  • Jobes Biozome Fertilizer Formula for Potted Plants & Hanging Baskets – 22$ for 72 spikes
  • Osmocote 274250 Smart-Release Plant Food – 21$ for 8lbs
  • EarthPods Premium Bloom Flowering Plant Formula – 33$ for 100 capsules

Are my hanging plants facing an imbalance of nutrients?

Although you might be regular at fertilizing your hanging basket plants, there could be a possibility that your potting mix does not have the right quantity of nutrients or worse, it has no nutrients at all. It is noticed that too much of nitrogen in your potting mix would give your plant healthy leaves and stems and promote lush foliage but can prove detrimental for the blooming of its flowers.

From a common man’s perspective, the plant grows well but it is devoid of flowers. Nutrient deficiencies not only results in less or no flower production but also results in poor pollination.

Am I plucking my flowers correctly and consistently?

It is almost wondrous how removing the old and faded blooms every alternate day or as necessary can make way for many more flowers. This occurs due to the facilitation of air circulation that in turn can help with providing energy to the plant and promoting the production of multi fold blooms. You know how they say, “out with the old and in with the new”!

Should I try replanting my hanging plant?

Sometimes, you may be doing everything by the book but yet nothing seems to be working and your hanging basket is still missing the touch of colour from the presence of flower blooms. In such a case, there is a probability that your hanging basket plant has become root-bound.

When this happens, you are left with no choice but to replant it into a larger container, so that the plant is relieved of its cramped situation and can get more room to bloom. This can happen either if the plant has outgrown the size of its hanging container or too many plants have been placed in a single basket.

Let’s say your hanging basket plants have started to flower.

How do you continue to keep the flowers in your hanging basket blooming?

Here are a few simple steps to keep your hanging basket flowers blooming-

tips to grow plants in hanging baskets

The first and most important task is regular and ample watering of the plants in the hanging basket. Use a watering can and ensure that your hanging basket plants are watered well, at least 4 – 5 times a week however you must be cautious not to go overboard with the watering.

Since the roots of these hanging basket plants have restricted space to spread and grow, they need plenty of water to thrive.

You can water your plant until the water starts to drip from the drainage hole at the bottom of the hanging container. Since the soil provided to these plants is limited, it tends to dry out quicker than usual.

Another useful plant watering process that you could consider is dipping the bottom half of the hanging basket into a bucket of water and letting the roots absorb from the bottom as per their requirement. Make sure to do this process only when the soil has completely dried out.

The second thing that needs to be done regularly is keeping an eye out for withered and wilted flowers and snipping them off, with the help of gardening clean shears.

In fact, it is recommended to snip off flowers that have passed their prime stage and need to be removed in order to encourage the growth of fresh flowers in its place. Dead flowers tend to crowd the pots and they also block the circulation of air. Besides, they don’t make a pretty picture either.

Replanting the flowers and their foliage even during the blooming season can help the flowers to sprout more frequently. Keep replacing the plants as often as you desire while ensuring that all the plants in a single hanging basket have the same requirement of soil type, weather conditions, watering etc.

For example, Fuschias and Marigolds can be planted together in the center of a hanging basket with some trailing plants on the sides. This procedure of replenishing your plants will ensure the constant presence of flowers in these in your hanging basket.  

Another important activity to keep the flowers in your hanging basket nourished and blooming is to provide them with suitable plant food or other types of fertilizers. A water-soluble slow-release fertilizer is ideal for the flowering plants in a hanging basket.

Do this once every two weeks for the health and abundance of flower production. It is imperative that the instructions on the packaging of the fertilizer are followed precisely, especially for dissolving it completely before application otherwise you will end up with a bunch of overfed and dried out flowers. You can also opt-in for the option of using organic fertilizers that are made out of compost and can easily be prepared at home.

You can also try moving your basket to different locations around the house until your plant finds its ideal spot. We don’t always realize it but the intensity of the sun or the blowing wind can negatively affect our hanging plants to a great extent which then tends to arrest the growth of its blooms.

Why do the plants in my hanging basket always die?

There are many factors that go into creating a successful hanging basket that contains a healthy plant blooming with flowers.

low maintenance outdoor hanging plants
hanging baskets plants

Climate

It is important to be aware of the climate best suited for the plants that you are growing in your hanging basket. Not getting the required climatic conditions can deteriorate the growth of the plant completely. For example, when a plant thrives in the warm Mediterranean weather, it certainly cannot do well in colder temperatures.

Hence, before you start with anything else, choosing the right plant suitable to the climatic around you is essential.

Location

The majority of plants in hanging baskets or plants, in general, tend to enjoy the sun shine. The tricky part is that they all have their individual requirement of the degree and duration of sun shine per day.

Some plants like direct and full sun light for almost 8-10 hours a day, while some can like partial sun light and others prefer more shade and less sun.

To keep your hanging basket plant thriving, you need to determine this requirement of your plant and then hang the basket accordingly.

Watering

Plants in a hanging basket need ample and frequent water for various reasons as mentioned above. However, there could be the danger of overwatering which is something that needs to be kept in mind. It is important for the excess water to flow out and hence the presence of medium-sized drainage holes at the bottom of the hanging basket is a must.

If you find that for some reason your hanging basket plant is wilting you must hydrate it almost immediately. No harm in watering your plants as often as twice a day if it need be.

As important as it is to water your hanging basket plants regularly, it is equally important to remain consistent with your timings. It is recommended to adhere to one particular time, which is set preferably in the early morning hours.

Watering your hanging basket plants in the early morning hours can help in gearing them up to withstand the stress of the sun light and the heat that bestows upon them in the latter half of the day. The morning water helps prevent the foliage of your hanging baskets plants from getting burnt by the sunrays.

Besides, there is less evaporation in the morning hours hence the soil remains moist for most part of the day.

Fertilizing

It is important to fertilize your hanging basket plants with a water-soluble slow-release fertilizer once in two weeks to keep witnessing the arrival of many flowers. Since these plants grow without much soil, the task of fertilizing them is quite essential.

To ensure you do not miss out, it is helpful to maintain a feeding schedule for your hanging plants. For best results, mix a long-lasting slow-release fertilizer like a hand full of worm-casting to the top layer of the soil and boost it up with a light dose of liquid fertilizer after every couple of weeks.

The worm casting fertilizer trickles the required nutrients into the soil gradually and also helps the soil to retain its moisture. For liquid fertilizers you can use compost, worm casting tea, or a good quality liquid fertilizer purchased from your local market. It is equally important to monitor the fertilizing process and ensure you do not over-fertilize your plant.

Ensure you are aware of exactly what you are feeding your plant while taking note of its requirement vis a vis, the ingredients of the fertilizer mix. Different plants in the hanging baskets react differently to fertilizers.

For example, if the Petunia plant has been overfed with fertilizer, then its leaves start to turn brown and its flowers stop producing.

Bugs

Hanging baskets are not necessarily prone to being infested by pests such as aphids, leaf miners, caterpillars, or other such creatures as they are much above the ground level. However, the possibility cannot be ignored altogether.

If not handled immediately these pests and insects can gradually damage your entire plant and cause it to die. Mold can be another problem that your hanging plant might face. It is equally dangerous and can halt the lifespan of your plant.

Cleaning and Plucking

Regular cleaning and plucking of the dead leaves and flowers help in rejuvenating the plant as a whole. The nutrients of the plant get unnecessarily depleted and getting rid of the brown and withered foliage can stop this wastage. The process of deadheading needs to be followed regularly.

In most cases, this can be done simply by using your hands but for blooms with thicker stems pruning snips can be used. Indulging in this activity not only improves the overall look of your hanging basket but also will ensure that all the energy and the resources will be directed towards promoting fresher and healthier blooms.

Selecting the right size of hanging container

When you start hanging baskets prior to the spring season, the plants are in their infancy stage and do not require large containers or too much space to grow. In this stage, a container as small as one with a 10-inch diameter would look sufficient.

However, as weeks go by, the plants grow in size and so do their roots which then start to get entangled with each other and then start to restrict their absorption of nutrients and water resulting in an alarming situation.

There has to be a timely intervention of replanting your hanging plants into bigger baskets to ensure the continuity of the plant. Replanting can be done simply by lifting out the root ball and filling the additional space in the new and larger hanging basket with a good potting mix.

This situation commonly occurs during the spring or early summer seasons after which if the plant has been replanted in a larger basket which is at least 16 -18 inches in diameter, it can retain its blooms right till the end of the summer season.

What is the best way to water my hanging basket?

The watering procedure for a hanging basket plant is slightly tricky and requires a certain type of methodology. Since they are suspended at a height and are surrounded by air, the soil in these hanging baskets tends to dry up rather quickly.

The hanging baskets require more nutrients and more water than their garden counterparts however it is quite difficult to test the moisture in the soil due to them being suspended from a height.

How often should I water?

Hanging basket plants need more water than the plants that grow in the garden as the soil in hanging containers does not retain moisture and any excess water goes immediately out through the drainage hole at the bottom.

Therefore, watering your hanging baskets will require your deft judgment and management. The answer to the question regarding the frequency of watering depends on the climate, the location of the basket, the type or the types of plants in the basket, and the number of plants that are growing in that particular basket.

If for example, the hanging basket is tightly packed with plants it will naturally need to be watered more frequently as they will have to share.

Similarly, if the hanging basket is located in an area that receives full sunlight more frequent watering will be required. Varieties like drought-tolerant plants, succulents, and herbs tolerate dry soil hence watering them can be less frequent in comparison with flowering and fruiting plants.

The best way to determine if it is time to water is to do the ‘touch test’. To do this, you can feel the soil from the top of the plant and through the drainage hole at the bottom. The dryness of the soil will determine whether it is time to hydrate your hanging garden plant.   

How should I water?

It is advisable to use water can with a long handle. You must refrain from using a jet spray. Gently soaking the hanging basket plant will ensure that the water seeps in gradually into the soil and stays there for a longer period of time.

Another way of watering the hanging basket is to submerge the bottom halfway into a bucket or a basin of water. In this way, the water goes directly to the roots of the plant.

The quantity of water to be given to your plant will solely depend on the number of plants that are in the hanging basket and the frequency at which the plant is being watered.

What time of the day should I water?

It is best to water your hanging baskets in the morning hours. With the sun’s rays not in its full strength at this time of the day the soil is able to retain the water better with little chances of the water evaporating quickly.

How can over watering affect my plant?

This is a tricky situation as it is a commonly known fact that plants in a hanging basket require ample and frequent watering. Keeping a vigilant eye and checking the moisture in the soil carefully with your fingers can determine how much and when your hanging basket plant needs to be watered.

Overwatering can prove dangerous to the roots of the plant as it causes the roots to rot especially when there is overcrowding of plants in your container.

Should I water my hanging basket every day?

Generally speaking, the plants in the hanging baskets need water when the soil on the surface begins to appear and feel dry. The frequency of the watering can depend highly on the climate, the location of the hanging basket, and the species of the plant.

During the summer months when the sunlight is strong, watering every day becomes a necessity to keep your plant thriving. The potting mix in the hanging baskets is lightweight and well-drained due to which the soil dries out faster.

Keep in mind that the soil should not be left to dry out completely as this will result in its separation from the sides of the basket. If you are ever faced with such a challenge, you can submerge the hanging basket in water for about 2 hours for the roots to regain their moisture and stick back to the sides of the container.

An important trick to ascertain the amount of water that your hanging basket might need is to only stop watering when excessive water starts to pour out from the drainage hole at the bottom of the hanging basket.

Best fertilizer to use in a hanging basket

Hanging basket plants need repeated fertilizing as they have less soil in comparison to garden plants and hence the nutrient resources deplete rather quickly. Without these vital nutrients, it is next to impossible for a plant to bring forth flowers and fruits.

The best fertilizers to use are water-soluble fertilizers or slow-release granular fertilizers that can last long. For your hanging basket, the ideal ingredients for a perfect fertilizer are a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the ratio of 1:2:1.

While phosphate or phosphorous stimulates the roots and gives the plant strength, potassium or potash is necessary for the formation of the fruit and flowers. Nitrogen activates and promotes the growth and health of the foliage and the leaves of the plant.

There are many chemical fertilizers available in the market for your hanging basket plants. Although they are inorganic in nature, they do have certain plus points.

In the US, chemical fertilizers are easily available in local markets and nurseries and are cheaper than their organic counterparts. In today’s day, you can purchase the perfect fertilizer online with a click of a button!

Most stores bought fertilizers are rapid-release formulations so that your hanging basket plants get their necessary nutrients in lesser time. The flip side of these chemical fertilizers is that you have to extra careful not to over-apply them as that could cause your plants to burn.

If you want to opt for a more natural formula, then a 100% organic fertilizer would work wonders. You can begin by applying 1/2 a cup of worm castings to the top layer of the hanging basket soil every month. Worm castings can make the best and naturally slow-release fertilizer for your hanging basket plant.

With every watering, this natural fertilizer would gradually release it’s nutrients into the soil which then nourishes the roots of the plant. Besides this dry fertilizer, a dose of natural liquid fertilizer can be used alongside.

The most commonly used organic liquid fertilizer is compost tea or a worm casting tea which can easily be prepared at home. The liquid fertilizer is to be gently sprayed on the foliage once every two weeks.

You can judge the potency of the liquid fertilizer by looking at the grass that is growing on the ground beneath your hanging basket as it would be lusher than the surrounding area.

Fertilizing is an important aspect of hanging basket gardening as these plants need fertilizing more often than the ones in your back garden. The caution has to be exercised not to over-fertilize your hanging baskets plants.

Though that might make the roots and the foliage stronger but would arrest the growth of flowers. Too much of nutrients too fast will have the plant attain its maximum growth escalated to 1 to 2 months and result in becoming root-bound.

This would mean that the soil would become tight and the plant would not be able to absorb even water, ultimately resulting in its destruction.

Fertilizing the hanging basket plant on a regular basis can accumulate salt around the roots of the plant. This is rather threatening to its growth. Watering the hanging basket plant excessively till the water starts trickling out from the drainage hole once in a while can help in removing this excessive salt.

What is the best potting soil to use in my hanging basket?

Having the right soil makes all the difference. With the right kind of soil, the roots get thoroughly nourished and thrive well below the soil which results in healthy leaves and flowers that adorn the plant. The soil in a hanging basket needs to contain all the minerals required by the plants throughout its growing season.

To avoid water-clogging, the soil needs to drain well but at the same time, it must retain enough water for it to remain moist keeping the roots nourished throughout the summer season.

Hanging baskets need to be filled halfway with a premium lightweight potting mix before placing your plant into it. It is recommended that a mixture of fir bark, peat, vermiculite, and perlite be used as this can work extremely well as the potting mix for a hanging basket.

Since these baskets have a good drainage system, 1/2 cup of organic fertilizer mixed with the soil can better the health of your plant.

A common and pesticide free potting mix technique adopted across South America is a 4 part organic combination formula. This works as a nourishing and natural potting mix for plants in a hanging basket, especially those at home, and can keep the plants thriving the entire season.

The first of the 4 part combination mix is a pulverized top soil. This is fairly inexpensive and comes in a easy to use disposable bag. The pulverized quality is an important aspect. The soil has to be of a fine quality. If the soil is compact and clay like, it will result in making it highly difficult for the roots of your hanging basket plant to expand and absorb the nutrients that you are feeding it. Therefore, the pulverized top soil should be fine and should easily crumble in your hand.

The next element in your potting mix is the compost which is also known as the ‘life giver’. The plants can easily convert the nutrients in the compost through its roots and grow strong and healthy. Compost adds a structure and the holding power to the soil.

Compost also has the ability to hold water which can sometimes be up to 10 times its weight. This retained water comes handy for the hanging basket plant on exceptionally hot and sunny days. Compost should be aged and broken down like the pulverized top soil making the entire mix loose and crumbly.

Contrary to what the general opinion is, perlite is a 100% natural and organic substance. Perlite is volcano glass which is heated and then popped. The result of this is a super lightweight material whose porous quality helps the soil in both, the drainage and the water retention process most required by hanging basket plants.

Like compost, perlite too can hold water multiple times its weight and can make the soil light. This makes the use of perlite important in the potting mix.

The fourth and final element to the soil mix is (you guessed it!) worm casting! The flawless nature of the overall potting mix comes from the content found in worm castings. It not only takes care of your plants complete health but also enhances its appearance.

Like compost and perlite, worm castings are also light in weight and can easily absorb water. Their natural and slow-release property makes them a perfect component for the hanging basket plants potting mix. Additionally, pre-used coffee grounds make another beneficial ingredient to your potting mix.

They provide a rich supply of nitrogen and other minerals required by your hanging plants.

Since multiple varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables are grown in hanging baskets at home, it is always good to be aware of the produce that you are consuming and the ingredients that help in their production.

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If you love gardening and want to plants in hanging baskets, then I hope these tips and tricks will help you to grow plants in hanging baskets.

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