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Flourishing Florals

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Flourishing Florals

A tisket, a tasket, a beautiful hanging basket. Find these at your local nursery selling for top dollar or, with a little patience and imagination, you can create a fantastic arrangement of colours and scents to suit your garden decor.

A tisket, a tasket, a beautiful hanging basket. Find these at your local nursery selling for top dollar or, with a little patience and imagination, you can create a fantastic arrangement of colours and scents to suit your garden decor.

Bold colours have an energizing effect and do well in full sun, while muted colours are calming and brighten shady areas. Tumbling wildflowers create a casual, country feel while single-species baskets are more formal.

Harmonious colours are colours that appear next to each other on the colour wheel. A basket of hues in blue can be both striking and soothing. Combine salvia, blue pansies, lobelia, and trailing verbena.

Complementary colours are high in contrast and add drama. Combine yellow or orange calendula with violet petunias and blue asters.

Choosing only two or three colours overall will create visual unity.

Classic Arrangement

The classic arrangement for baskets is upright plants for focus, fillers for colour, and trailers for length and volume.

Try upright annuals such as snapdragons and salvia as centrepieces in your hanging basket. Medium-sized flowers and foliage such as geraniums, nasturtiums, and coleus are great for filling the spaces in between. But hanging baskets are most eye-catching with plenty of trailers, such as candytuft’s mass of white, red, or pink flowers and dark foliage, and sweet alyssum’s dainty, white cascading blooms.

Choosing Plants

Annuals are best for hanging baskets as they are colourful, relatively easy to care for, and will bloom all season if deadheaded regularly. Buy plants that are in bud, with some flowers in bloom for immediate effect. Select green, bushy plants with no signs of stress, dryness, or pests.

Potting Mix

Buy potting mix or create your own by combining equal parts of sand, loamy soil, and peat moss. Mix in a few handfuls of composted manure. The potting medium should feel light in your hand.

The biggest challenges to successful hanging baskets are daily watering and weekly fertilizing, but due care for hanging baskets will reap months of blooming pleasure from spring to fall.

How to Plant a Wire Hanging Basket

  1. Use baskets that are at least 12 in (30 cm) across, as small baskets dry out too quickly.
  2. Stand wire basket in empty pot for stability.
  3. Place small saucer in basket to act as water reservoir.
  4. Line basket with sphagnum moss or burlap.
  5. Cover base with potting mix and press down firmly to eliminate air pockets.
  6. Tease transplants out of pots and loosen the roots.
  7. Plant in layers, starting with trailers at the bottom. Lay plants on potting mix through wire mesh from the outside. Firm and secure plants in place.
  8. Add alternate layers of potting mix and plants, with fillers in the middle and centrepieces at the top.
  9. Fill basket to within 4 in (10 cm) of the top and firm down.
  10. Add thin layer of composted manure for fertility and bark mulch for water retention.
  11. Water and place out of harsh direct sunlight until plants are established. If frosts still happen at night, protect basket in a sheltered area and bring it outside again during the day.
  12. Hang on strong brackets, hooks, or wrought-iron stand.

Watering and Care

  1. Soil should feel very moist, but not soaking wet.
  2. Water during the evening when moisture will not evaporate due to wind or sun. Use a wand and try not to splash foliage. Spray blooms and foliage with a light mister.
  3. Ensure water does not stream out the bottom, as nutrients leach out with it.
  4. Water weekly with potash-rich fertilizer such as liquid seaweed.
  5. During heat waves, water twice daily and remove baskets from harsh heat. If basket is completely dry, immerse in a bucket of water for half an hour or until soil is moist.
  6. Turn baskets occasionally to ensure all plants get plenty of sunshine.
  7. Deadhead daily for maximum bloom by pinching faded blooms and trimming faded foliage. Prune leggy trailers to make the plants bushier.
  8. Arrange for someone to water hanging baskets while you’re away on vacation.
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